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.” Meredith has also stated that he would like to see the age of sexual consent raised to 18 from 14 which is it at odds with the Conservative government’s stated intention to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16.
A Canadian senator who is under investigation for workplace sexual harassment is facing a new allegation that he had a sexual relationship with a teenager during the past two years.
Don Meredith, 50, has been a senator since 2010 and is also a Pentecostal pastor with the Praise Centre in Toronto.
Soon after the allegations against Meredith were published on the Star website, the Prime Minister’s Office took swift action to oust him from Conservative circles.
“Senator Meredith is no longer a member of the Caucus,” spokesman Stephen Lecce said in an email.
According to the young woman, who is now 18, the relationship began soon after she turned 16. She met Meredith at a church event in Ottawa.
She said it began with sexually explicit chats over Skype and Viber in which Meredith asked her to remove her top and underwear. She said he then masturbated on camera.
The relationship progressed to physical intimacy, kissing and touching before the girl turned 18. Soon after she turned 18, the woman said, they had intercourse twice.
When the senator broke it off earlier this year, he told her in a text message that he did so because “God has spoken to me and am (sic) not happy with me … I should be leading you not making you.”
The Star has conducted detailed interviews with the woman in person and over the telephone. The Star has also viewed text and email messages the two exchanged.
Meredith, reached by the Star on Tuesday, said he was too busy to answer questions.
“I’m just in a meeting right now; I can’t speak to you,” Meredith said. The senator hung up when the Star began asking questions.
Following the call, the Star sent two sets of written questions to Meredith. The Star left requests for comment on the issue of an alleged inappropriate relationship on Meredith’s cellphone, at his Toronto area church, and his Senate office in Ottawa. Meredith has yet to respond.
In Canada, the age of consent for sexual relations is 16. However, the age of consent is 18 if there is a relationship of authority, trust or dependency.
Meredith was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2010. He had run unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate in the 2008 byelection in Toronto Centre. A landscaper by trade — his company is called Donscape Landscaping Services — Meredith had become prominent in Toronto for speaking out against youth violence.
Last week, CTV’s Robert Fife reported that Meredith is under investigation by the Senate for “allegations of workplace sexual harassment and bullying.” According to the CTV report, “four of Meredith’s former female employees and four other Senate staffers allege he made sexual advances, used sexual innuendo, and was often rude and vindictive.”
Senate Speaker Leo Housakos confirmed to media outlets that an investigation he called a “workplace assessment” is underway. The woman the Star interviewed did not work for the senator and has no connection to the workplace harassment allegations.
In an online biography at the Pentecostal Praise Centre in Vaughan, Meredith is described as having a strong commitment to religion and youth. He is also known for his comments on the importance of family values.
“He has a heart for people and desires nothing more than to see all people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and His glorious Kingdom. With a strong passion for Youth and their families, he wants to empower them through education,” the biography states. “He has dedicated his life to work with other Faith Leaders, Politicians, and Police to bring about change in how we Engage, Encourage and Empower our youth across Canada.”
Meredith met the young woman, who was then a girl, at a religious event. The woman is embarrassed and troubled by the relationship. Because of the nature of the allegations and her young age, the Star agreed to protect her anonymity.
In February 2013, Meredith was invited to speak at a celebration of Black History Month at a church in Ottawa.
The girl, who had just turned 16, was in attendance.
“He was cute. I was meeting a senator. I got a picture with him,” said the woman, recalling the meeting.
“There were a lot of people waiting to speak to him. It was a celebrity experience. He kept telling me to wait. Then he came and talked to me and gave me his card and wrote his cellphone number on the back and told me to call him.”
On Valentine’s Day in 2013, she said, Meredith invited her to dinner. She did not go on the advice of her family. “I was scared; it did not seem right.”
Over the next three months, Meredith and the young woman texted. He used his government cellphone, she said. He invited her to visit his Senate office and she did in June. She said Meredith hugged her and squeezed her buttocks with his hands.
“Why would you do that? What’s wrong with you?” she recalls asking him. On that occasion and others when she queried why a married man who was much older would be involved with her, she said he replied, “I am a man.”
The woman said she found Meredith charismatic and interesting, despite what she described as his inappropriate touching.
He then asked her to go back to his hotel, the Chateau Laurier. She said he promised he would “only take off my socks.” She said no. They went for Chinese food instead. She said he asked her for a kiss goodnight and she said she refused.
They began an on-again, off-again relationship that always stopped short of intercourse. “He said no, I’m not going to lie down or anything. He made it clear he did not want to have sex with me until I was 18.”
Instead, the woman recalls, their relationship included “kissing and (sexual) touching.” This occurred in the place she was living in Ottawa.
She said the senator initially thought she was over 18, but that within six weeks of their first meeting she told him she was 16.
The Star has put allegations to Meredith that he had an improper and sexual relationship with a person under the age of 18. Meredith has not responded.