In May of 2008, the Tackling Violent Crime Act came into force. It was a centre piece of action for the Government of Stephen Harper. As CBC.ca noted in its piece “Canada’s age of consent raised by 2 years”, it raised the “the legal age of sexual consent in Canada to 16 from 14, the first time it has been raised since 1892”. At the time, the Tories “said they raised the age, in part, to deal with internet predators”. It was also noted that this meant that Canada’s age of consent was now in line with “Britain, Australia and most of the United States”.
Given that it didn’t become a big deal in the years since, it is only fair to say that in todays’ world, most Political Parties agree that the age of consent should be 16. Without any rigorous study of the issues, I have to say that this seems like a fair and reasonable limit. Or put differently, given the “close-in-age exception” in the law, I think that a 14 year old may not be able to consent but a 16 year old might.
With those facts in mind, as a Black Man, I find Senator Don Meredith’s claim of racism to be wholly without merit. As a Black Man, I have been exposed to things which I can say are racist or things which I might suspect as racism. In my youth, older ladies would cross the street until I had passed and then crossed back. In stores, clerks would follow me around; while police officers might slow down to take a “better look”. When I was older, while in London, Ontario; I was told to “go back where I come from”. I know what racism feels like.
What Senator Don Meredith is suffering from is not racism. What he is feeling is the investigation that comes with accusations of criminal behaviour. The two are quite different. The Police are investigating
Senator Meredith’s actions because the Senate did. As Huffington Post Canada’s Zi-Ann Lum wrote in a piece called “Don Meredith’s Lawyer Uses Child Marriages To Defend Relationship With Teen”, Senate ethics office Lyse Ricard, concluded Meredith abused his power and office during the duration of his affair. In the piece published on March 17, 2017, Zi-Ann noted that “Ricard found the woman a credible witness, and Meredith not”.
If Lyse Ricard is correct, it is easy to see why Police would be investigating. Firstly, since we know that Senator Meredith did eventually have sex with this woman, the first question would be did the Senator violate consent laws. However, the questions don’t end there. For example, as a public official with power, did the Senator violate his duty of care to another person? In this case, the colour of the Senators’ skin has nothing to do with the actions that have come. It is the nature of his actions which are in question. In that way, Canada is a country which we have come close to making Martin Luther King’s famous words manifest: …a nation where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. In this way Senator Meredith is being disingenuous when he says that racism is at play.
If you question that, look at how other Senators have recently been treated. Senators Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin were suspended for two years from the Senate after a Senate Report found that they had violated public trust. After that the report was forwarded to the RCMP by Senate Motion. To date, Senator Meredith has not experienced that. In fact, the lack of action in a possible sexual assault case has to say that racism has no role in this fiasco.
In fact what is most interesting is that the same party which sought his appointment in 2010, is now distancing themselves from his less than seven years later. This change in action has nothing to do with racism. It is simply an indication of what Senator Meredith’s character has wrought.