Ex-staffers have told HuffPost Canada that Senator Don Meredith forced them to pray with him and draft sermons while on the Parliamentary clock.
Meredith is a Pentecostal pastor at the GTA Faith Alliance church in Richmond Hill, Ontario and is facing expulsion from the Senate following a separate investigation into a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
One ex-employee told HuffPost Canada that the Senator asked staffers to pray with him.
“The way that his religion prays is to actually put a hand on the person next to you — and he would use that excuse to touch me more than just putting his hand on my shoulder for the prayer,” she said, alleging the senator used the intimacy of prayer to touch her breast and her bottom.
Other staffers report:
Meredith also discouraged staff from claiming overtime, and allegedly blurred the lines between government resources and non-parliamentary work.
Several ex-employees claim they were tasked to help Meredith — a Pentecostal pastor — draft speeches he would deliver from church pulpits.
“If you go and take a look and did a forensic analysis of the hard drive, you’ll see those products were requested and delivered on Government of Canada time,” said the former male aide.
Following the allegations into his inappropriate relationship with the teenager, the Senate ethics committee has recommended that the chamber expel Meredith. A separate investigation is ongoing into these claims of sexual harassment and bullying.
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:
These accusations suggest a shocking abuse of power and Senator Meredith ought to resign immediately from the Senate.
The claims of sexual harassment are disturbing enough but we're also concerned by how the Senator forced his religion on his staff. We strongly condemn this breach of the government's duty of neutrality. Government employees should not be ghostwriting sermons for pastors while on the clock.
The Senate as an institution must take these - and previous - allegations seriously and set in place procedures to prevent similar abuses from happening again. Everyone has the right to be free from harassment at work. Otherwise, the efforts to reform its image in recent years will have been in vain and Canadian's will continue to lose confidence in the Upper Chamber.