Andrew Scheer sheds light on Sen. Lynn Beyak’s removal from Conservative caucus
The leader of the federal Conservative Party has shed more light on the decision to remove Sen. Lynn Beyak from caucus over what were termed racist and offensive letters about Indigenous people that were published on her website.
Speaking to Global BC legislative bureau chief Keith Baldrey, Andrew Scheer was asked whether he removed Beyak from the Conservative National Caucus over the remarks, or because she didn’t remove them from her site when he asked her to.
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Scheer said that, over the course of months, it became clear to him that Beyak wasn’t buying into a vision he said he had to address Indigenous issues in a respectful way.
“Ultimately, the comments she put up I found extremely distasteful and offensive,” he said.
“And the way that she responded to my request, ultimately indicated to me that she wasn’t interested in being on the team.”
Beyak, a senator from Ontario, faced backlash after it was discovered that dozens of letters were published on her website with language that was considered offensive to Indigenous people.
The letters contained language such as, “the handouts have taken their people nowhere,” and “I’m no anthropologist but it seems every opportunistic culture, subsistance [sic] hunter/gatherers seek to get what they can for no effort.”
Scheer removed Beyak from the Conservative National Caucus in early January.
His office released a statement saying, “to suggest that Indigenous Canadians are lazy compared to other Canadians is simply racist.”
Scheer was in Victoria with his party for Conservative National Caucus meetings.
Baldrey noted that the party lost ground in B.C. in the 2015 federal election — and then another of its seats in the South Surrey-White Rock byelection last year.
Scheer said the party has met in B.C. to discuss precisely why the federal election didn’t go their way in the province, and to hear what British Columbians are talking about.
He said the Liberals are moving further to the left, “pushing the NDP out of being relevant,” and that’s “causing a challenge, but it also opens up an opportunity.”
“There’s a lot of centrist Canadians that are saying, hey, wait a minute, I’m not a believer in this massive big government expansion or these big, big deficits or higher taxes,” Scheer said.
“My responsibility is to say to them, the Liberals have left you, take a look at the Conservative Party, you can have a home here.”
One issue that Scheer may find himself confronting in British Columbia: Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.
Baldrey noted that the BC NDP oppose the project, while the Trudeau Liberals support it.
Scheer said it’s important to have the ability to “get oil and gas and energy off of rail, off the roads.”
“Burning greenhouses gases to move energy to port is not the most efficient way of doing it,” he said.
“So getting them in pipelines is sustainable. It’s environmentally-friendly, it creates jobs, it allows more people to share in the prosperity of our natural resource sector.”
Finally, Baldrey and Scheer talked about the Conservative leader’s name recognition among Canadians.
“I think it’s a challenge that every leader of the opposition has,” he said.
“The prime minister can automatically make news, can travel anywhere, and the entire press gallery goes with him, so he’s got a bit of an advantage there, but so has every prime minister.”
Scheer said he’ll keep attending events and speaking to Canadians.
And by the time the next election rolls around, “I’m confident that Canadians are going to have a good idea of what I stand for,” he said.
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