Don Meredith (politician)

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The Honourable
Don Meredith
Don Meredith at Toronto Centre Candidates Debate 2008 (Cropped from original).jpg
Meredith during his unsuccessful 2008 campaign
Senator for Ontario
In office
December 18, 2010 – May 10, 2017
Nominated by Stephen Harper
Appointed by David Johnston
Preceded by Peter Stollery
Personal details
Born (1964-07-13) July 13, 1964 (age 53)
Saint Ann, Jamaica
Political party Non-affiliated
Other political
affiliations
Conservative (2010-2015)
Non-affiliated (2015-2016)
Independent Senators Group (2016-2017)
Residence Richmond Hill, Ontario

Don Meredith (born July 13, 1964)[1] is a Canadian Pentecostal minister, former politician, and executive director of the GTA Faith Alliance which focuses on the issue of youth violence particularly violence involving gangs and guns.[1][2][3][4][5] The GTA Faith Alliance has organized peace rallies in the Malvern and Rexdale communities of Toronto following incidents of violence as well as organizing town hall meetings on related community issues.[2] Meredith was the Conservative candidate in the March 17, 2008 federal by-election in Toronto Centre. He received 12.5% of the vote, and placed fourth behind Liberal victor Bob Rae and the New Democratic and Green candidates.

Meredith was appointed to the Senate of Canada on December 18, 2010 as a Conservative. He was expelled from the Conservative caucus on June 17, 2015, however, following allegations that he had conducted a two-year affair with a teenager that began when the girl was 16[6] and found guilty of ethics violations by the Senate ethics office in March 2017.[7] The Senate Ethics Committee recommend in May 2017 that Meredith be expelled from the Senate. He announced his resignation on May 9, before a vote could occur;[8][9] his resignation took effect the next day.[10]

Background[edit]

Born and raised in Jamaica, Meredith immigrated to Canada and became a Canadian citizen in the early 1980s.[11] He attended Ryerson Polytechnical Institute but never graduated; while he was a student at Ryerson, he began Donscape Landscaping Services (c. 1994), which he still owns and operates.[1]

Meredith was ordained a minister in 2006,[1] is a graduate of Rhema Studies of Theology Association,[12] which is a non-degree granting association.[13] He is the volunteer senior pastor at the Pentecostal Praise Centre in Maple, Ontario[14] close to Richmond Hill, Ontario[1] where he now lives.[15] Meredith is a member of the Chief's Advisory Council for the Toronto Police Services; he was also a member of the York Regional Police Police Community Advisory Council (PCAC) from 2004 until 2012, as well as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Consultative Committee since 2005.[2] He is the former Co-Chair of the Black Community Police Consultative Committee, an advisory group of community members who advise the police on various issues. Meredith participated in the “Black Family Summit,” held in August 2006, he described the event as "a great way to meet young women".[16]

Early political career[edit]

In December 2007, he was nominated by the Conservative Party of Canada as its candidate in the downtown Toronto riding of Toronto Centre federal by-election held on March 17, 2008.[17] Meredith won the Conservative nomination by acclamation several weeks after the party controversially removed Mark Warner as its standard-bearer.[18]

Meredith is a social conservative who has spoken out against pre-marital sex and stated that "when we have marriages, we don't have these social problems."[19] Meredith has also stated that he would like to see the age of sexual consent raised to 18 from 14 which was at odds with the then-Conservative government's stated intention to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16.[20] Nonetheless, Meredith had supported New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament (MP) Bill Siksay's private member's bill[21] to add gender identity to the list of distinguishable group traits protected from hate speech by the Criminal Code and to allow judges to take into account whether crimes were motivated by hatred of transgender or transsexual people when determining the offender's sentence.[22] In opposition, Stephen Harper had opposed Siksay's predecessor, former NDP MP Svend Robinson's successful private member's bill that added sexual orientation to the law in 2004.[23]

He placed fourth in the by-election which saw him receiving 12.5% of the vote, down from the 18.2% received by the Conservative candidate in the 2006 federal election and also down from the 18.3% that the Conservative candidate would receive in the federal election held seven months after the by-election.

Senator[edit]

Meredith was appointed to the Canadian Senate on December 18, 2010 on the advice of Prime Minister Harper, and joined the Conservative caucus.

In September 2012, Meredith was criticized for attending a cultural event at Carleton University organized by the Iranian embassy at a time when the Canadian government was urging a boycott of Iran.[24] In contravention of his government's position on Iran, Meredith travelled to Iran in 2012 in attempts to forge business deals with the government.[25]

In 2014, despite not being authorized by the Senate, he attended the National Prayer Breakfast for notable preachers and politicians in the United States.[26] Meredith expensed the first class trip for himself and his wife along with the hotel cost to the Senate and was later forced to repay the expense.[26]

Harassment complaints and sexual misconduct investigation[edit]

Sexual predator Meredith was being investigated by the Senate in February 2015 after being accused of harassment and bullying by former members of his staff.[27][28] An independent report was submitted to the Senate ethics office in July 2015.[29]

Meredith was expelled from the Conservative caucus on June 17, 2015, following allegations that he had conducted a two-year affair with a teenager that began when the girl was 16.[6] In October 2015, the Senate ethics office suspended its investigation pending the result of the concurrent police investigation that took over the file.[29] Ending up the teenager, Ms. M, declined to press criminal charges to protect her identity. After the police investigation was dropped the Senate ethics office investigation resumed in February 2016 [30] and found him guilty of ethics violations in March 2017 after he conceded he had sexual intercourse with the woman after she turned 18.[7] The woman said that Meredith "continually encouraged her to be in a relationship with him" and that he frequently masturbated on-camera during video chats while he was in his GTA Faith Alliance office.[7] Meredith called the encouragement a gross lie and did not recall masturbating, but said that if he did "it was an interaction".[7] Meredith was expelled from the Independent Senators Group he had joined the previous year.

Meredith repeatedly apologizing for his "moral failing" and begging forgiveness but refused to step down, while taking sick leave on doctor's orders. He claimed to be a victim of racism in this affair, with his first lawyer Selwyn Pieters suggesting "his client was being portrayed as a "sexual predator" because he is an imposing black man".[31] Meredith replaced Pieters with Bill Trudell as his new attorney, the latter who believed that the race card approach would not be helpful in Meredith's defense.[32] Despite growing calls for Meredith's resignation from the Senate, Trudell argued "for a one- or two-year suspension without pay as a form of punishment for his two-year sexual relationship with a teenage girl".[33]

Meredith announced on May 9, 2017 that he will be resigning from the Senate.[8] The announcement came shortly after the Senate Ethics Committee found that his conduct "demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as a senator" as "He has abused his privileged position of authority and trust by engaging in behaviour that is incompatible with his office", and "No lesser sanction than expulsion would repair the harm he has done to the Senate".[34] Though the Senate has no explicit power to expel a member, a situation unprecedented in Canadian history, the Ethics Committee "accepted the legal opinion of the law clerk and parliamentary counsel to the Senate that the Constitution gives the upper house the same privileges enjoyed by the United Kingdom's House of Commons, which can permanently eject a member". Had Meredith not agreed to resign voluntarily, it was "virtually certain his former colleagues would have voted overwhelmingly" to expel him.[35] In his resignation letter he stated that "the path of expulsion being considered by [his] colleagues will have major implications for the Senate of Canada" and that "this is a constitutional fight in which [he] will not engage."[36] His resignation took effect on May 10, 2017.[10]

Credentials[edit]

Meredith claims an honorary degree from an association of Christian counsellors, the Canadian Christian Clinical Counsellors' Association, that has no standing as a degree-granting school and has been signing himself as "The Honourable Dr. Don Meredith" since receiving the honour. Meredith stopped calling himself a doctor after his credentials were questioned and he was called upon to substantiate his educational credentials.[37][38] Meredith also claims to have earned a bachelor's and master's degree in religious studies from California State Christian University, an unaccredited, unregulated school which is not recognized by either the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and is not permitted by the state of California to grant graduate degrees.[37][38]

Awards[edit]

In 2006, Meredith received an Urban Leadership Award from the Canadian Urban Institute for being an “outspoken advocate against crime and for the advancement of a just society”.[2]

In 2008, he received the Toronto Police Service 13 Division Community Service Award.[39]

In 2012, he received the Nelson Mandela Humanitarian Award [40] and the BBPA Youth Advocacy Award.[41]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal by-election, March 17, 2008: Toronto Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Bob Rae 14,187 59.2 +7.0
New Democratic El-Farouk Khaki 3,299 13.8 −9.9
Green Chris Tindal 3,263 13.6 +8.4
Conservative Donald Meredith 2,982 12.5 −5.7
Animal Alliance Liz White 123 0.5 +0.4
Canadian Action Doug Plumb 97 0.4 -
Liberal hold Swing +8.5

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Toronto Centre Conservatives welcome new candidate Don Meredith[permanent dead link], Toronto Centre Conservative EDA press release, December 21, 2007 (retrieved January 3, 2008)
  2. ^ a b c d Award Recipients - Urban Leadership Awards 2006 Archived November 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., Canadian Urban Institute
  3. ^ Whittington, Les, "Harper calls 4 by-elections for March 17; Two former Liberal leadership candidates Rae and Hall Findlay to run in Toronto ridings", Toronto Star, December 22, 2007
  4. ^ Welsh, Moria, "Faith in ending violence; 'We are not going to sit back and let 2006 become like 2005'; City's church leaders pray, then announce extensive plan Response to gangs includes 400 mentors for at-risk youth", Toronto Star, January 3, 2006
  5. ^ Fowlie, Jonathan, "No more bodies on our streets", Globe and Mail, April 3, 2004
  6. ^ a b http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/sen-meredith-out-of-tory-caucus-after-teen-alleges-sexual-relationship-1.2428121?hootPostID=e8dbf919b1d26b7c2b30eb7b2d10989d
  7. ^ a b c d "Senator Don Meredith guilty of ethics violations after 'inappropriate' relationship with teenage girl". CBC News. 9 March 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  8. ^ a b https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/05/09/disgraced-senator-don-meredith-is-resigning.html
  9. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/don-meredith-resigns-senate-1.4106901
  10. ^ a b https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/05/10/questions-linger-as-don-merediths-resignation-becomes-official.html
  11. ^ Elect Don Meredith Archived March 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Campaign website, retrieved January 31, 2008
  12. ^ Toronto Kiwanis - Don Meredith (speaker's biography), retrieved January 4, 2008
  13. ^ "Rhema Theological Association". Archived from the original on 5 January 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Senate appointee known as activist preacher leading campaigns against gun violence", Globe and Mail, December 20, 2010
  15. ^ Grech, Caroline, "Residents express cell tower health worries", The Liberal (Richmond Hill), December 1, 2007
  16. ^ Black Family Summit, 2006 accessed December 21, 2007
  17. ^ Canadian Press, Bob Rae gears up for federal byelection in Ontario Archived 2007-12-26 at the Wayback Machine., CTV News, December 22, 2007
  18. ^ Four federal byelections offer Dion chance to solidify leadership[permanent dead link]", Canadian Press, December 21, 2007
  19. ^ "Harper annonce la tenue d'élections partielles le 17 mars", Le Devoir, December 22–23, 2007
  20. ^ "Candidate tackles top issues", Towncrier, January, 2008
  21. ^ Creelman, Brent Siksay introduces trans hate crimes bill, Xtra, December 13, 2007
  22. ^ Rau, Krishna Conservatives appoint new by-election candidate, Xtra, January 17, 2008
  23. ^ CTV, Toews on record for repeal, changes to hate law Archived March 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., CTV, June 8, 2004
  24. ^ Proussalidis, Daniel (September 4, 2012). "Tory senator slammed for attending Iranian event". Toronto Sun. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  25. ^ Proussalidis, Daniel. "Tory Senator Slammed for Attending Iranian Event". Intelligence.ca. 
  26. ^ a b Leblanc, Daniel (March 2014). "Conservative Senator Disciplined for Expensing Unauthorized Trip". Globe and Mail. 
  27. ^ "Sen. Meredith investigated for alleged workplace harassment". CTV News. June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Senator Don Meredith facing review after staff harassment, bullying allegations". CBC News. June 11, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2015. 
  29. ^ a b "Don Meredith case suspended by ethics officer while police investigate: sources". CBC News. 2 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  30. ^ "Sen. Don Meredith's alleged relationship with teen back under ethics office review". CBC News. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  31. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/don-meredith-no-resignation-1.4028557
  32. ^ [1]
  33. ^ http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/government-senate-leader-urges-disgraced-senator-don-meredith-to-step-down-1.3319927
  34. ^ http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/government-senate-leader-urges-disgraced-senator-don-meredith-to-step-down-1.3319927
  35. ^ "Don Meredith quitting Senate amid scandal". CTV News. The Canadian Press. May 9, 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2017. 
  36. ^ Tasker, John Paul (May 9, 2017). "Don Meredith resigns from Senate over relationship with teen". CBC News. Retrieved May 9, 2017. 
  37. ^ a b "Tory Senator Stop Calling Himself "Doctor"". Huffington Post Canada. Huffington Post Canada. May 5, 2014. 
  38. ^ a b "Tory Senator Calling Himself "doctor" receive honourary degree from groups not authorized to grant degrees". National Post. May 5, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Parliament of Canada". Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  40. ^ "Planet Africa Awards". Archived from the original on 12 November 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  41. ^ "BBPA Harry Jerome Awards". Retrieved 11 April 2013. 

External links[edit]