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Senator Don Meredith will honour ethics committee invite to appear, lawyer says

TORONTO — The lawyer for embattled Sen. Don Meredith says his client will honour an invitation to appear before the Senate ethics committee.

However, Bill Trudell says it’s not clear what form Meredith’s appearance on April 4 will take, adding it could be via video or teleconference.

Trudell says he has concerns about the senator’s health.

Meredith is currently on sick leave following a damning report by the Senate ethics officer on his sexual relationship with a teenager.

The report found he had abused his position as senator.

The notice of invitation to Meredith gave no further details of the April hearing.

“The Senate (committee) announced this morning that they’ve invited him to appear,” Trudell said Tuesday. “He will be honouring the invitation, but in what form is to be determined given concerns, shared by me, about his health.”

The Senate ethics committee is set to meet in camera on Wednesday to consider the report on Meredith.

The committee formally invited Meredith to attend the meeting next week to “provide him with an opportunity to be heard by the committee,” according to a public notice.

Since the report earlier this month, Meredith has spoken publicly only once and has otherwise dropped out of sight.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, he repeatedly apologized and begged forgiveness for what he called his “moral failing” in pursuing the affair with the teenager. He also said he had taken an indefinite leave of absence for health reasons under doctor’s orders.

However, several senators and other politicians have called on the senator to resign or be fired on the grounds that he has disgraced the office — although it’s not completely clear whether the Senate has the authority to give him the boot as at least one lawyer close to the case has said it does.

While the black senator, a married father, said initially that he believed racism had played a role in the scandal, Trudell later distanced himself from that position, saying it wasn’t an issue.

Trudell also said an “otherwise good man” had made a “huge mistakes.”

In her report, Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard said Meredith had sexual relations with a woman known as Ms. M. Although the senator had taken some rehabilitative steps — among them praying and marital counselling — and had proposed further measures, they simply weren’t sufficient, she found.

“I have concluded that while they may have some salutary effects and may help prevent further breaches of this nature by Sen. Meredith, the remedial measures he has proposed do not remedy the harm that his actions have caused to the office of Senator and the institution of the Senate,” Ricard said.