POLITICS

Sen. Don Meredith Spoke Of Protecting Youth Innocence, Abstinence In 2008 Byelection

06/18/2015 05:05 EDT | Updated 06/18/2015 05:59 EDT

The senator accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl spoke of the need to protect youth innocence "for as long as possible" and merits of abstinence while serving as a candidate for the federal Conservatives in 2008.

Don Meredith left the Tory caucus Wednesday night after a bombshell report from the Toronto Star was published online alleging he had a two-year affair with the teen that ended after she turned 18.

According to the story, Meredith, 50, had sex with the girl twice after she turned 18, but the two had previously engaged in explicit talk, kissing, touching, and other intimate acts. The senator has not publicly addressed the allegations.

Meredith, a Pentecostal pastor, is also facing an investigation into allegations of workplace harassment that include sexually suggestive remarks.

The latest Meredith accusations conflict with positions he expressed seven years ago in an interview with Daily Xtra, a gay and lesbian news outlet. At the time, Meredith was running for the federal Tories in a byelection in Toronto-Centre that was ultimately won in a landslide by Liberal Bob Rae.

According to a published transcript of the interview with reporter Krishna Rau, Meredith said he "absolutely" supported raising the age of consent to 16 from 14.

"If you look at the cognitive choices a 14-year-old has to make, I think young people, their innocence should be protected for as long as possible," he said, according to Xtra.

"Our most valuable resource is our young people and our future lies within our young people so it's incumbent on the government to ensure they're protected and not exploited."

When asked if the age of consent for anal sex should be lowered from 18, Meredith largely ducked the question but said children should be given the chance to "grow" and "make a mature decision" when it comes to sexual activity.

He also said "abstinence would be the crucial thing, would be the utmost, but in society that is not the case."

Meredith finished a distant fourth in the byelection, behind Rae and the NDP and Green candidates. Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed him to the Senate in 2010.

The age of consent for sexual relations was raised to 16 from 14 in May 2008 through the Tackling Violent Crime Act. However, in cases where the activity "exploits" a young person — if it involves pornography, prostitution, or a relationship of trust, authority, or dependency like a teacher or coach — the age of consent is 18.

Senate Speaker Leo Housakos has already referred the matter to the ethics officer, saying that if proven true, the allegations would constitute "conduct unbecoming of a senator" and warrant punishment.

Housakos told The Canadian Press he found the alleged behaviour "disturbing, unacceptable and intolerable."

Tory Sen. Vern White, a former Ottawa police chief, told The Canadian Press the accusations were "disgusting" and said Meredith should be expelled from the upper chamber if they are proven true.

"This is his scandal. This isn't mine, this isn't ours," White said. "This is his and he'll own it."

With files from The Canadian Press

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