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This is disgusting

Senator (and pastor) Don Meredith just doesn’t grope teens according to allegations from staff

Senator and pastor Don Meredith

Two sets of doors were always closed before Sen. Don Meredith felt comfortable starting any meeting in his office across Parliament Hill.

The first leads to a shared hallway, the second to Meredith’s desk. Shutting them both seemed to give him a sense of privacy and control.

Staff members found it bizarre, but they did what their boss asked. “Constant paranoia” was a running theme in the office, one former female aide said.

Behind those doors, they claim, the senator began inappropriately touching his female employees.

“Once the doors close — which was not able to be opened from the outside if it was locked — well, I felt like I was trapped and he was able to touch me and be very … all over me,” alleged another former female staffer.

It looks like he was a sexual predator as a senator and a pastor.  I am not sure what is more appalling that he has been able to keep his title of Senator this long or his church hasn’t fired him and he hasn’t been defrocked by whoever it was who ordained him.

Oh good grief, he was a fraud before he was a senator as well.

Meredith claims an honorary degree from an association of Christian counsellors, the Canadian Christian Clinical Counsellors’ Association, that has no standing as a degree-granting school and has been signing himself as “The Honourable Dr. Don Meredith” since receiving the honour. Meredith stopped calling himself a doctor after his credentials were questioned and he was called upon to substantiate his educational credentials. Meredith also claims to have earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in religious studies from California State Christian University, an unaccredited, unregulated school which is not recognized by either the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and is not permitted by the state of California to grant graduate degrees.

Christy Clark: When I was 13, a man suddenly jumped out and grabbed me off the sidewalk

In the National Post the Premier of British Columbia tells a story that is all too real to many women.

Governments almost never consider bills introduced by the Opposition. There are a lot of reasons for that — some good, some not so good — but it’s a long, unfortunate tradition in Canada’s notoriously partisan parliaments.

In B.C., we broke from that tradition.

Earlier this spring, the Greens introduced a bill that would set clear guidelines for sexual assault and misconduct at all public post-secondary institutions in B.C. I happened to be reading it during Question Period when I was surprised with a question about whether or not we would pass it.

As I got up to answer, I decided that our government would pass the legislation. I knew it was the right thing to do.

Why? It’s about changing the environment in which post-secondary students spend most of their time, and providing more support for victims of sexual assaults and sexual violence on college and university campuses. It speaks to the large number of women and men who stay silent about their experiences.

As I sat in my chair on the floor of the legislature, it struck me: I knew all too well why women stay silent. For over 35 years, I’ve been one of them.

I grew up in suburban Burnaby, the youngest of four kids in a community where it seemed like there were four children in every house. The road up the hill was teeming with kids walking to school, and then back home for lunch at noon.

In 1978, nobody drove anybody anywhere. You either hoofed it, or when you were old enough, took a bus.

It was back in the day when there were lots more kids than parents around. The days before chronic over-scheduling, when kids were allowed to waste time and wander.

I don’t remember everything from my youth, but I do remember all of the sexual advances from strangers: getting flashed, groped, spied on. Things that no person should experience, let alone a young girl or teenager.

Most of all, I remember the time a stranger pulled me off the sidewalk into the bushes. There was no doubt in my mind that he wanted to hurt me.

I’ll never know what might have happened. What I do know is that I never told anyone about it.

It was a sunny day, and I was walking to work at my first job. A man suddenly jumped out, grabbed me and pulled me out of sight into a deep copse of shrubs.

He didn’t say anything. I don’t even remember what he looked like.

I remember wondering where he had come from, and why I hadn’t seen him. And I remember being very scared.

Luckily, it didn’t last long.

When he pulled me down the little slope, it must have shifted him off balance. He loosened his grip for a moment, giving me a chance to wriggle away, clamber a few feet forward, and get out of the bush.

Once I got out into the sunlight, I ran like the wind.

When I got to my restaurant job, overflowing with relief that I was safe, I stopped outside to catch my breath. Then I went in, put on my apron, and got to work.

I never told anyone. Not about this or any of the other frightening things of a sexual nature that happened to me as a child or a teenager. For 35 years, it’s as though they never happened.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve shared this story with female friends and colleagues. Almost every single one of them also had a story. Like me, none of them had said a word.

That’s why the stories of so many women who stay silent have struck me so deeply. Many of their stories are much worse; horrifying events will take years of determined effort to heal. Nonetheless, many of us share something in common: we have never spoken about it, not to the authorities, or our parents or spouses.

I don’t claim to speak for all women in explaining why I didn’t tell, but for me, as a child and then a teenager, I was ashamed. It made people uncomfortable. I suppose I felt that if I hadn’t been physically hurt, people would think I was self-absorbed, overly upset about something that was just part of life for my half of humanity.

I told myself: Get over it. Bad things happen. It was trivial.

Sexual violence is common. Unfortunately, so is staying silent about it. Our silence makes it easier for those who wish to harm us. We don’t share our stories, we don’t think anyone would care much if we did, and then we live with the warped impression that we are alone in our fear and shame.

I’m not speaking out for sympathy; I don’t need it. I am speaking out because as Premier of British Columbia and B.C.’s first elected female premier, I am privileged to have a public platform.

I want women who have never said anything about sexual violence in their lives to know they are not alone.

Shame is painful. It’s also pervasive and isolating, but the capacity to survive and heal is achievable through the sharing of our experiences. Let’s build a community where women and men who have dealt with sexual violence can feel safe and comfortable talking about it. Let’s build strength in numbers. Let’s help the institutions where we work, go to school and live our everyday lives, understand the breadth of this problem.

Let’s get to work on addressing it.

You know what bothers me the most about what happened to 13-year-old me? Not knowing if the man who pulled me into the bushes kept going until he caught a girl who couldn’t get away.

I wish I’d had the courage to say something then. I do now.

MPs Behaving Badly

Don Martin shares this about harassment from MPs

Leaving after dinner with a dozen MPs a few years ago, a female colleague of mine rolled her eyes and showed me her BlackBerry messages.

Three of the MPs had sent her suggestive invitations to meet for drinks later that night or in the future.

If they’re making such bold advances on a journalist they hardly know, one has to wonder about the treatment of staff or interns who depend on MPs for a paycheque.

Look, the vast majority of MPs are loyal husbands without roving eyes, but there is a what-happens-in-Vegas aura around Parliament Hill.

So what to make of MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, suspended yesterday from the Liberal caucus and their re-election bids over allegations of harassment raised by two female NDP MPs.

It must be stressed they both deny the allegations and deserve the right to fight to overturn what may be perceived as a conviction in the court of public opinion.

But while false allegations of harassment are not unprecedented, perhaps these particular circumstances will be seen to tilt the presumption of guilt against the accused.

These NDP MPs are not seeking revenge, they are not conniving for personal gain and must’ve known their complaint could ruin the career of a fellow MP if they became public.

Of course, that’s the rub here. The NDP MPs never intended to make public their allegations. The women just wanted the harassment to stop.

But the minute they went directly to Justin Trudeau, there was never a possibility it could be kept under wraps. The Liberal leader had to act or be accused of a cover-up.

Harassment on the Hill

From Chantel Hebert in the Toronto Star

Among the women who currently toil on or around the Hill, there are few whose institutional memory of the ways of Parliament Hill goes back as far as mine does.
I first came to Ottawa to report on federal politics in 1977 as a very junior twenty-something Radio-Canada reporter.

It was a brief sojourn.

Within a few months, I came to the conclusion that the then-male bastion of Parliament was not the best working environment for a young female journalist to spend her formative professional years in.

A few days before I headed back to Toronto and a freelance journalism gig my colleagues invited me to tag along to a Quebec MP’s annual Christmas office party.

There were a few other women attending the party but they had been hired for the occasion and each had settled on a male guest’s lap by the time we arrived.

It was a decade before I returned to the Hill. There were more women in Parliament the second time around but its boys’ club mentality seemed fundamentally unchanged.
Over the years that followed, I remember counselling a younger colleague who wondered if she was cut out for political coverage after a failed attempt to connect with the Liberal leadership team she had been assigned to.

A dinner with one of the candidate’s organizers had ended abruptly when her guest called for the bill and chided her for not having understood that she was meant to be dessert. I suggested sticking to lunches in the future.

On the constitutional road show a few years later, I remember how women staffers and reporters all knew better than to risk being cornered in a seat by a certain MP on the committee’s bus.

On two occasions, people associated with the parliamentary page program casually dropped hints that their protégés sometimes had to interact with MPs or senators whose hands tended to travel.

Over time the number of women in the press gallery reached a critical mass.

A more egalitarian generation of politicians found its way to the Hill. It includes a significant contingent of women.

A washroom off the lobby of the House of Commons was even made accessible to them!

But it apparently takes longer to change attitudes than it does to relocate a washroom.

The allegations that have surfaced this week suggest that some old habits die hard — including that of sweeping harassment issues under the rug.
Few are more vulnerable to allegations of personal misconduct than elected politicians and there has long been an implicit gentlemen’s agreement (pun intended) between the parties to deal with such matters under the radar.

Until now …

Sadly I think that agreement to brush things under the rug was far more persuasive then Parliament Hill and the CBC.