Embattled Sen. Don Meredith is seen in his Toronto lawyer’s office in downtown Toronto on Thursday, March 16, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel

Senate agrees to compensate harassment victims of ex-senator Don Meredith

The committee did not mention legal costs

The Senate has agreed with recommendations from an independent evaluator that the victims of disgraced ex-senator Don Meredith should be compensated.

The Senate standing committee on internal economy met behind closed doors Thursday to consider the recent report by former Quebec Appeal Court judge Louise Otis.

Otis had been tasked to speak with six former employees in Meredith’s office and review all materials from a four-year investigation completed last year by the Senate ethics officer.

That investigation concluded that Meredith had repeatedly bullied, threatened and intimidated his staff, and that he had also touched, kissed and propositioned some of them.

In a statement Thursday night, the Senate committee did not say how much the staff would receive, but that in her recommendations, Otis had averaged compensation levels in line with the amounts awarded in three major recent class-action lawsuit settlements involving harassment in the public sector.

“Employees who participated in the independent evaluation process will be contacted by the office of the Senate law clerk and parliamentary counsel,” the committee said.

Two women who worked for Meredith had previously complained about the evaluation process, saying they were barred from using lawyers when speaking with Otis, told their legal costs would not be covered and that Otis’ recommendations would not be binding on the Senate.

After they came forward the Senate shifted the rules, allowing them to have counsel and that their costs may be covered — if Otis also recommended that as part of her report.

The committee did not mention legal costs in its release Thursday, though did say it will meet again to consider the report.

Meredith was appointed by former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper in 2010. He resigned in 2017 following a separate investigation and subsequent recommendations by the Senate’s ethics committee that he be expelled for using his position to pursue a sexual relationship with a teenager.

He has not faced any criminal charges.

The Canadian Press

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