Friday, March 17, 2017

A Moral Coward



Every so often, I happen upon a news item that, for want of a better word, inflames me; it is usually something so patently outrageous that my capacity for calm desserts me, and I launch into a semi-tirade. This morning was one of those moments.

Now some may say that because I am not black, I have no right to pass judgement on Senator Don Meredith, the reprobate who used his positions of power (as pastor of his church and as a Harper-appointed senator) to 'groom' an underage member of his congregation for a totally inappropriate and morally reprehensible sexual relationship. Anyone who reads my blog knows that injustice, especially the abuse of power, is something that offends me to the core, and a person's race or colour can never exempt him or her from condemnation.

Yet Don Meredith begs to differ. First of all, the coward is thus far refusing to resign, despite pressure from his senate colleagues to do so, instead opting to take a leave of absence "on the advice of his doctor".

Perhaps he is hoping for the storm to blow over? Meredith seems perplexed as to the calls for his resignation. In his mind, he has owned up to his 'mistake.'
"This is a moral failing on my part," a grim-faced Meredith said in a wide-ranging interview, with his wife Michelle quietly at his side. "As a human being, I made a grave error in judgment, in my interactions. For that I am deeply sorry."

Meredith, 52, repeatedly apologized to his wife, children, his fellow senators and "all Canadians" for the relationship that took place with the woman known only as Ms. M.

His wife and children have forgiven him, he said, and he asked for the same forgiveness from his Senate colleagues and Ms. M herself.

"I believe in the power of forgiveness and reconciliation," he said as his Toronto lawyer looked on. "We're humans, and humans make mistakes."
But neither his public mea culpa nor his refusal to resign are what set me off. It was this:
The senator said Wednesday he believes he has been the victim of racism since the allegations about his affair first surfaced in the summer of 2015. Where individuals of colour rise, he said, somehow they're taken down — whether it's "self-inflicted or orchestrated."

"Absolutely, racism has played a role in this," Meredith said. "This is nothing new to me. There is always a double standard that exists in this country."

Pieters said his client was being portrayed as a "sexual predator" because he is an imposing black man — but that clearly was not the case.
For Meredith to 'play the race card' not only compounds his moral cowardice, but also indirectly impugns all those who have been actual victims of racism. His claim, in my view, demonstrates not only his unfitness to hold public office, but also his ongoing position as executive director of the GTA Faith Alliance.

And I am hardly alone in my umbrage:



There is no question in my mind that if we are to have even a modicum of respect for the failing Senate, Don Meredith must go.




12 comments:

  1. The only thing that makes me think that Meredith might be correct in feeling that he is made exceptional because of his ethnicity is that I see parallels between his behavior and another Conservative, Vic Toews. One was tolerated, and eventually rewarded with a position as a judge in Manitoba, and the other is held up as a breach of ethics. Frankly, they are both breaches of ethics. They are not exactly the same cases of course, but neither should be shining examples of politicians.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is an excellent point, Anon, but remember that his disgrace came under the Harper government, and it would seem only matters that struck Harper closely were ever repudiated, e.g., Mike Duffy. As well, Toews' despicable behaviour was, I believe, less widely publicized. Finally, the one who appointed him to the bench when he was Justice Minster was the village idiot called Peter MacKay, whose moral compass has always been skewed (e.g., he broke his promise not to merge the Progressive Conservative Party with Reform to win David Orchard's support for his leadership of the CPC)

      Delete
  2. He is a sexual predator! That young woman was 16yrs. old! Canadians do not want a man, black, white or any colour for that matter who is capable of being a sexual abuser to be in the Canadian Senate.

    His sexual abusing is a complete violation of the ethics and morality expected of a Senator.

    What about the victim? His wanting the Senate and the Canadian people to forgive him does not change the impact this will have had on her. In fact it does not change anything. We're not talking about Meredith stealing money from the till here.

    This is a moral coward, who sexually preyed on a 16yr. old girl! Now he wants to remain a senator, by using the race card.

    He has in fact insulted those blacks as you said Lorne who are true victims of racism.

    This is an issue of a man profoundly violating his ethics and his morality, not an issue of race.

    Now that we know who this man really is, is there any question that he needs to leave the senate? I will be completely shocked if they don't find a way to remove him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As littered as our political landscape is with people lacking principles, Pamela, getting rid of Meredith would send an important signal and be at least a good start to some kind of renewal.

      Delete
  3. Excuse, Lorne, not reasons. Meredith doesn't know the difference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He wants it both ways, Owen. It is his version of taking responsibility while accepting no real responsibility. He is emblematic of the emptiness of so many in public life today.

      Delete
  4. Meredith is right that race plays a role here. In 2011, then 68-year-old Liberal senator Rod Zimmer married a 22-year-old woman. The couple had been dating for years but kept the relationship secret until she turned 21. Sure there were snickers and jokes, but there were no outraged columns in the newspapers or colleagues calling on Zimmer never to set foot in the Senate again. The matter was certainly never sent to the ethics commissioner. Zimmer was white.

    The legal age of consent is 16. Meredith (then age 48) didn't have sex with Ms. M until she was 18. By all accounts it was consensual. If police had evidence that Meredith abused his position of authority to get sex, they would have charged him. Unlike Zimmer, Meredith is being urged to resign by the media and his colleagues. Meredith is black.

    Meredith has done nothing illegal. At worst, he's an unfaithful spouse, a hypocrite and a liar. If these were grounds for removing a Senator, we'd have few of them left.

    Cap

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is an interesting comparison, Cap. However, I believe it has been ascertained that Meredith did, in fact, engage in a sexual relationship with the girl at least twice before she turned 18. Also, there was sexual activity of a sort when she was underage. As well, my understanding of the reason charges weren't laid is that the unidentified young lady refused to press charges, as she didn't want her name to become known.

      Please check out these two links for further details:
      https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/02/04/sen-don-meredith-wont-face-criminal-charges-over-relationship-with-woman.html

      http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/former-senator-had-sex-with-underage-teen-used-senate-phone-for-explicit-chats-report

      Delete
  5. Your Star link says she was 18 when they had sex, your NatPo link says the ethics commish "believes" that they may have had sex once when she was under 18. It doesn't matter, the age of consent is 16.

    As someone pointed out above, fathering a child with his 17-year-old babysitter didn't spell the end of Vic Toews' career. There's clearly a double standard being applied to Meredith. I can't think of any reason for that other than his skin colour.

    Cap

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was an interesting discussion today on Power Play and Power and Politics. If I can get some of the clips, I will post them, Cap, as either an update or a separate post. The question of the age of consent comes up in the Rosemary Barton segment, and apparently the age of consent is not 16 if the person has been abused by someone in a position of authority or influence.

      Delete
  6. That's correct, Lorne, the charge would be sexual exploitation. That's why I said if police had evidence that Meredith had abused his authority for sexual purposes, they would have charged him. But they didn't, just as they didn't charge Vic Toews for doing the same thing with the babysitter.

    As Frantz Fanon pointed out, "The black man represents the biological danger; the Jew the intellectual danger... The black man is nothing but biological... here the black man rules. He is a specialist in the matter: whoever says rape says black man." - Black Skin, White Masks, p. 143

    Cap

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the references here, Cap.

      Delete