Senator Lynn Beyak’s ongoing saga continues its weary way in the media. This lady has no understanding of political correctness or public relations. Every time she or her family members go on the record, they just make things worse.
Senator Beyak represents the lake head area between Thunder Bay and the Manitoba border. This Harper appointee has repeatedly been in hot water because of her ill-informed and outrageous comments about Indigenous people.
First, she stated that residential schools weren’t so bad and success stories went unacknowledged. Then she went on the record stating that Indigenous people should give up their status so they could become Canadians. She also stated that Pierre Trudeau’s white paper on Indian policy in 1969 was “brilliant.” This policy paper was widely rejected by Indigenous people as racist and assimilationist. It was later shelved by the government.
Beyak than published some “letters of support” on her government funded website. This was finally too much for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and she was removed from the Conservative Party caucus.
She launched back at Scheer, stating that he fell for a media distraction campaign drawing attention away from Liberal ethical violations. She called Scheer an inexperienced leader who won by a small margin. Beyak had supported Maxime Bernier in the Conservative leadership race.
The reaction to her actions has been swift. The national Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, pointed out that the Senate ethics committee can recommend the expulsion of senators and argued they should review Senator Beyak’s remarks. Saskatchewan Senator Lillian Dyck also stated that the letters posted on Beyak’s website could constitute a hate crime.
Beyak’s son, Nik Beyak, came to his mother’s defence, proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He also reinforced her statements that residential schools were not all that bad and were run by people of good will. He stated that the Conservative Party was bullied by political correctness and that nobody in Ottawa stood behind her.
A large percentage of the Canadian population holds misinformed and hateful views about Indigenous people. It’s a mistake to consider Senator Beyak an outlier and lone wolf. She is in fact a voice for racism and intolerance.
This is where political leaders have to step up and draw the line. Following the shooting death of Colten Boushie on a Saskatchewan farm last year, Facebook pages lit up with racist comments. It was so bad that Premier Brad Wall had to step in and condemn the remarks. Meanwhile, members of parliament Kelly Block and Gerry Ritz remained silent even though the incident took place in their backyard.
Other leaders have suggested that Beyak should be dropped from the Senate. This is easier said than done. The Senate rules state, “Senators lose their seats if they become aliens; become bankrupt, insolvent or public defaulters; are convicted of felony or any ‘infamous crime;’ lose their residence or property qualification; or are absent for two consecutive sessions of Parliament.”
So far none of this applies to Senator Beyak, so technically she can’t be removed. Others have suggested that she fall on her sword and resign, but that seems unlikely.
While kicking her out of the Senate would be precedent-setting, the Conservatives had no problem voting for the suspension of Senators Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau.
The other way to exact revenge is to hit the Beyak family in the wallet. The Beyaks own two automobile dealerships, Sunset Country Ford in Fort Francis and Dryden GM in the city of Dryden, where Nik Beyak is a city councillor. These two towns are located in the centre of Treaty Three territory. First Nations play an important role in the economy. A petition is circulating calling for a boycott, and chiefs, councillors and band members are all signing it.
Beyak remains a member of the Senate of Canada and is unelected and unaccountable. She is now free to act independent of the restraints of a party caucus.