Advertisement

Sen. Lynn Beyak defends racist letters as ‘free speech,’ attacks Andrew Scheer for ouster

A picture of Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak hangs in a hallway on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, September 21, 2017.
A picture of Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak hangs in a hallway on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, September 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGESMatthew Usherwood

Sen. Lynn Beyak, who was ousted from the Conservative caucus last week over racist letters she posted to her parliamentary website, is doubling down in defence of her decision to post them and blasting her former leader as “inexperienced” and hampered by “political correctness.”

As Global News first reported last week, Beyak had posted roughly 100 letters she received from Canadians after she came under fire last year for defending residential schools and those who worked in them, despite the schools being places where thousands of Indigenous Canadian children were abused and died after being taken from their families over the last century.

READ MORE: Sen. Lynn Beyak publishes ‘outright racist’ comments about Indigenous people on her Senate website

Many of those letters contained racist and hateful language including some that painted all  Indigenous Canadians as “lazy” and “backward-looking.”

Story continues below advertisement

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer issued a statement saying he kicked her out of caucus after he and the Conservative Leader in the Senate, Sen. Larry Smith, had asked her to remove the letters from her website and she refused.

Beyak now sits as an independent senator.

READ MORE: Andrew Scheer removes Sen. Lynn Beyak over ‘racist’ letters about Indigenous people

In a statement shared with members of the parliamentary press gallery Monday afternoon, Beyak said she learned of her ejection from caucus in Scheer’s press release and disputed the process of her removal as depicted in his statement.

“Neither I nor my staff ever spoke with Andrew Scheer or anyone from his office at any time,” Beyak said in her statement.

She also said that posting the letters gave “Canadians a voice for free speech” and accused Scheer of bowing to political pressure when he decided to kick her out of caucus.

“A good leader would never have fallen for such a ploy, but when an inexperienced leader wins by a small margin, and does not adequately consider other viewpoints, some wisdom and common sense are lost,” she wrote.

“We deserve better leadership other than the current choices, who are mired in, or hampered by, political correctness.”

Story continues below advertisement

A spokesperson for Scheer said he will not be backtracking on the account offered in the press release in which he announced Beyak’s ouster.

“We stand by the facts presented in that statement,” said Jake Enwright, director of communications to Scheer.

Beyak herself is not an elected parliamentarian but was appointed to the Senate by former prime minister Stephen Harper and will serve until the mandatory retirement age for senators of 75.

Carolyn Bennett, Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations, slammed Beyak on Friday and questioned why it had taken so long for Scheer to remove her from his caucus.

Bennett also sent a letter to both Scheer and Smith thanking them for removing Beyak from caucus and asking for their further help in getting her to take down the letters that remain posted even now to her parliamentary website.

“Unfortunately, the offensive materials posted by Senator Lynn Beyak while she was a member of your caucus are still available on the Senate’s webpages and we would like your assistance in ensuring these materials are removed,” Bennett wrote in the letter, shared with Global News.

“As parliamentarians, we must take up our responsibility to lead reconciliation, not dismiss it. We must accept the truth of this dark chapter in our history and continue the hard work of reconciliation. We believe that the material on Senator Beyak’s website should be removed as it is an obstacle to eradicating racism and engaging all Canadians on the journey of reconciliation.”

Story continues below advertisement

A spokesperson for the Senate, said that while the Senate does offer templates and hosting services for senators who want to base their personal website on the Senate domain, it is ultimately up to individual senators to decide what to post or remove from their website.

 

Read the full statement from Beyak below.

“On Thursday, January 4, 2018, I learned from Andrew Scheer’s media statement that I was removed from the Conservative National Caucus.

Contrary to his statement, that he asked me to remove content and I refused, neither I nor my staff ever spoke with Andrew Scheer or anyone from his office, at any time.

Talking points from his office also declared: “Senator Beyak admitted that she intentionally posted racist correspondence about Indigenous Canadians to her Parliamentary website”.

That statement is completely false. I would never say or do such a thing.

I believe our website has given Canadians a voice for free speech. Many citizens, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, from coast to coast; have written to my office expressing their views.

Isn’t it interesting that when the media should be focused on Justin Trudeau’s ethics violations and Joshua Boyle’s alleged ties to the taxpayer compensated Khadr family, that old letters, on the website for months without controversy, are used to bait opposition leadership.

Story continues below advertisement

A good leader would never have fallen for such a ploy, but when an inexperienced leader wins by a small margin, and does not adequately consider other viewpoints, some wisdom and common sense are lost. We deserve better leadership other than the current choices, who are mired in, or hampered by, political correctness.

Canadians can read and decide for themselves what is relevant and helpful for a fresh start for those Indigenous people who still suffer, and who live in hopelessness and poverty with inadequate housing and dirty water. Discerning citizens don’t need government to tell them what is allegedly racist.

More money is not the answer either. Governments have spent billions of taxpayer dollars over decades, and what we have been doing is simply not working.

I will continue to post the thoughtful ideas, stories, research and wisdom of the people, who recognize that enough is enough and it is time for a change.

Canadians are kind and compassionate, but not stupid. There are not enough tax dollars to fix every mistake from the past. Whether you liked him or not, Pierre Elliot Trudeau was correct, when he said Canada’s leaders don’t need to apologize. When Canadians see inequities, we fix them, we move forward and we don’t repeat them.

As an Independent Senator, I will continue to be a voice for freedom of speech. I consider it my duty and my role, as well as a great privilege, to speak on behalf of so many wise Canadians.

Story continues below advertisement

Hon. Lynn Beyak

Senate of Canada”