Senator Lynn Beyak was removed from the Senate Conservative caucus and the National Conservative Party of Canada caucus by party leader Andrew Scheer last week after racist letters featured on her personal website were brought to his attention. Under a “Letters of Support” tab on the site, Beyak has several letters from Canadians about how, in her own words, “going to a Residential School was a positive experience for them. Those people feel that they acquired useful skills and benefited from recreational activities and sports.”
The letters were in response to comments Beyak made in March in defense of residential schools — you know, where Indigenous children were torn from their homes, families and culture — saying that they taught skills crucial to life in Canada. Many of them were, in a word, racist. The general theme is that Indigenous Canadians should be “grateful that there was a service or system in place for their benefit.” In his statement, Scheer quoted one of the most cringe worthy.
“From the history I have read, it is likely that the aboriginals received better treatment and education than society gave, the Irish, the Scots, the Polish, the Jews and other minority or out of power groups, like the poor,” it reads.
“I’m no anthropolgist [sic] but it seems every opportunistic culture, subsistance [sic] hunter/gatherers seeks to get what they can for no effort. There is always a clash between an industrial/ organized farming culture that values effort as opposed to a culture that will sit and wail until the government gives them stuff,” the letter continues. Scheer’s statement called promotion of these statements “offensive and unacceptable for a Conservative parliamentarian” and says that he asked her to remove them. When she refused, he says he removed her from the Conservative caucus.
— HuffPost Canada (@HuffPostCanada) January 5, 2018
Beyak will remain an independent Canadian senator but she is no longer affiliated with the Conservative party. She has defended the right of the writers of these letters and her own promotion of them as freedom of speech. She issued her own statement on Monday with her defense and a personal attack on Scheer. She calls him an “inexperienced leader” who is “mired in, or hampered by, political correctness.” She also counters his claim that he told her to take the letters down and she refused. She says that neither he nor his office contacted her or her’s.
Full statement from Senator Lynn Beyak today after being kicked out of Conservative caucus last week. Says Andrew Scheer’s ‘failure’ to consider other points of view resulted in loss of ‘some wisdom and common sense.’ pic.twitter.com/Ly0ceWPwY6
— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) January 8, 2018
According to a CBC Conservative source, Andrew Scheer’s office did not contact Beyak directly, his sentiments were communicated through the office of Sen. Larry Smith who has a senior position in the senate.
On Tuesday, a group of Independent senators requested that an ethics investigation be made into the letters. Facilitator of the Independent Senators Group, Sen. Yuen Pau Woo said they wanted to ensure that Beyak demonstrates “the highest standards of dignity inherent to the position of senator.”
She said in a statement: “Many of the messages posted on Senator Beyak’s website are deeply offensive to Canadians. They can only serve to set back the much-needed reconciliation of Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians.”