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Conservative Senator disciplined for expensing unauthorized trip

Senator Don Meredith.

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A Conservative senator has been sanctioned by his party's leadership for taking an unauthorized, taxpayer-funded trip to Washington, D.C., earlier this year, sources said.

Don Meredith, a pastor who was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2010, was denied authorization by Conservative Whip Elizabeth Marshall to travel to the National Prayer Breakfast last February, sources said.

Mr. Meredith still went to the event, which featured a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama and was attended by politicians of all stripes and faiths.

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Mr. Meredith tried to expense the full cost of the trip to the Senate, but the administration refused to reimburse all of the expenditures, sources said. The decision means that Mr. Meredith will have to personally cover a portion of the cost for the trip.

In addition, Mr. Meredith has been removed from the Senate committee on human rights as a direct sanction for his actions, a Conservative official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official said that Mr. Meredith viewed his membership on the committee "as a source of pride" and that he was angry to lose the privilege.

"This was important to him," the official said.

The cost of the trip is unknown at this point. Mr. Meredith posts his expenses on his website, but the most recent reports only goes back to 2013.

Mr. Meredith has yet to respond to a request for comment.

In a story on his situation in The Hill Times on Monday, Mr. Meredith issued the following statement: "Being a pastor and long-time activist around engaging, encouraging and empowerment of our at-risk youth was also an important part of why I was asked to serve. Day after day, I am driven to do my best to respond to the demands of my various constituencies. […] That is what Canadians expect of me. And sometimes that includes finding efficient ways to reconcile my spiritual vocation as part of my public duties. As a public servant, I am proud of the work I do in support of our government's domestic and international goals. And I am happy to continue supporting the government's initiatives."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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