OTTAWA — The Senate ethics watchdog should have abandoned her investigation into allegations of workplace harassment and bullying when Don Meredith resigned his seat last month, his lawyer argued Monday.
"I just don't think that it makes any sense and it's not fair," said Toronto-based lawyer Bill Trudell.
"He's gone. He resigned. He did the right thing in the circumstances."
The fact that Meredith is no longer a senator would normally halt such an inquiry, but Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard picked things up again last week after the ethics committee recommended she press ahead with the two-year-old probe.
The committee said it is only fair to both the former senator and the employees involved that the allegations of harassment, sexual harassment and the abuse of authority in the workplace be fully investigated.
Ricard, for her part, is stepping down from her role as of Friday for family reasons.
The committee said the Senate can no longer impose any sanctions on Meredith, but noted the investigation might help clarify the rules and identify the best way to deal with such issues in the future.
He's gone. He resigned. He did the right thing in the circumstances.
If the Senate wants to make some institutional changes, said Trudell, it should go ahead and make them without pinning them on someone who is no longer there.
"If the Senate thinks that they need guidelines and rules and better practices and more sensitivity, then do it," said Trudell, who made it clear he was sharing his own opinion and not speaking on behalf of his client.
"Don't call it because of Don Meredith, who is not there anymore. I think that is not very courageous.
"If you have an institutional problem, then it's an institutional problem," he said. "It's not one person's problem. And you don't do it on the back of one person, especially a person who is not there anymore."
The same committee chose to abandon an inquiry into Meredith having brought his wife along on a delegation, because the issues it raised are no longer relevant, now that he has gone.
Meredith resigned his seat last month, the day before the Senate could have voted to expel him over his sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
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