Northwestern Ontario Senator Suspended over Racist Letters

Sen. Lynn Beyak has been suspended for refusing to remove allegedly racist letters from her website. Sen. Lynn Beyak has been suspended for refusing to remove allegedly racist letters from her website. |  Photo: Senate of Canada

Updated: May 10, 2019 02:10 PM

The Senate of Canada has suspended a senator from Northwestern Ontario who refused to remove letters from her website that an ethics officer concluded were racist.

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Sen. Lynn Beyak, a business owner from Dryden, had already been removed from the Conservative party's caucus last year over the dispute.  She had posted numerous letters of support in 2017 after controversial remarks about Indigenous Peoples and Canada's residential school program.

A report released last month by the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators recommends that Beyak be suspended without pay for the remainder of the current Parliamentary session.  The committee also recommended that Beyak attend an educational program at her own expense, that she receive a briefing from the Clerk of the Senate "regarding her role and responsibilities as a senator," and that she write a letter of apology to her fellow senators.

The Senate decided Thursday to proceed with the committee's recommendation and suspended Beyak for the remainder of the current session. On Friday, the Senate's website continued to list Beyak but her contact information and contentious website were removed.

In a Senate speech Thursday, Beyak accused the ethics officer of disciplining her for "refusing to censor the free expression of Canadian citizens with whom he disagreed."  She called the committee's opinion "right out of Orwell's 1984."

Beyak said she was being punished for refusing to go along with the politically-correct orthodoxy about Indigenous Peoples.

Later, on Twitter, Beyak said, "I just want to thank all Canadians-this payed vacay is on your dime after all."

Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde responded to the Senate's action on Twitter by saying, "There is no room for racism or discrimination anywhere in Canada especially at decision-making tables. I commend the Senate for this decision."

The committee said it considered Beyak's "apparent lack of understanding about racism in Canada, particularly in respect of Indigenous peoples, and the harm caused by racism in society." It said Beyak declined to attend a committee meeting about the matter.

Beyak was appointed to the Senate in 2013 by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Canadian senators are appointed, rather than elected, and may serve until age 75.

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