A Conservative senator called two CBC reporters “parasites” for asking Sen. Lynn Beyak questions ahead of a committee meeting Thursday.
Sen. Kelvin Ogilvie denied making the remark when confronted by reporters Katie Simpson and John Paul Tasker. His comment, “I see the parasites are still following you,” was recorded on camera and elicited a laugh from Beyak.
Watch the CBC clip here:
“I don’t recall that. Did you hear that?” he said later when confronted about his remark. “Why don’t you folks go away and find somebody else to bother.”
Earlier, Beyak was asked if she thought the Conservative caucus was wrong to remove her from the committee on Aboriginal peoples over comments she made about residential schools last month. She did not respond to the question.
The Ontario senator issued a statement saying her removal from the committee signifies a threat to freedom of speech.
Political correctness is stifling opinion and thoughtful conversation that we must be allowed to have if we are to truly improve our great country. For me to lose my position on the Aboriginal Peoples Committee for complimenting the work of nurses, teachers, foster families and legions of other decent, caring Canadians – along with highlighting inspiring stories spoken by Aboriginal people themselves — is a serious threat to freedom of speech.
She added she’s encouraged by messages of support received from “many Aboriginal Canadians.”
Ogilvie did not return The Huffington Post Canada’s request for comment.
‘No positive outcomes’
A spokesman for Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose confirmed Beyak’s removal from the Aboriginal peoples committee Wednesday.
“Ms. Ambrose has been clear that Sen. Beyak's views do not reflect the Conservative party's position on residential schools,” said Jake Enwright in a statement.
In a speech made in the Senate chamber last month, Beyak said “Mistakes were made at residential schools — in many instances, horrible mistakes that overshadowed some good things that also happened at those schools.”
She cited examples of positive experiences some students had and called the work of some officials at the time “well-intentioned” and “remarkable.”
Her remarks were well criticized by Canadians and politicians, including NDP MP Romeo Saganash, who called on her to resign. A petition was also launched to advocate for her removal from her position on the Senate committee for Aboriginal peoples.
Despite the backlash, Beyak stood by her comments and said the controversy was a product of an “era of fake news and exaggeration.”
Approximately 150,000 indigenous students went through Canada’s residential schools, an institutionalized system of cultural assimilation and child neglect that separated families.
Liberal MP Bob Nault reacted to Beyak’s removal from the Senate’s standing committee on Aboriginal peoples with an invitation to visit his riding to meet residential school survivors.
“I have seen, firsthand, the tragic effects it has had on generations of First Nations people,” he said. He wants the senator to “understand that there are no positive outcomes” of Canada’s residential schools, he added.
Read Beyak’s full statement below:
I would like to once again sincerely thank all the people who have written and phoned me in the past few weeks to express their support. Since the announcement regarding my removal from the Aboriginal Peoples Committee yesterday, public and other support has been building and is truly inspiring. As a Senator, it is my duty and privilege to speak on behalf of Canadians. This is a responsibility I take very seriously. Although a deeper sense of pride in my fellow Canadians – including many Aboriginal Canadians who have sent messages of support - is what I have gained most from this experience, it has also been revealing how difficult it is becoming to have a balanced, truthful discussion about all issues affecting Canadians. Political correctness is stifling opinion and thoughtful conversation that we must be allowed to have if we are to truly improve our great country. For me to lose my position on the Aboriginal Peoples Committee for complimenting the work of nurses, teachers, foster families and legions of other decent, caring Canadians – along with highlighting inspiring stories spoken by Aboriginal people themselves - is a serious threat to freedom of speech. Too often, on a broad range of issues, a vocal minority cries foul and offence whenever a point of view is raised that does not align with their own. Meanwhile the silent majority, who are contributing to this country by working, building and selling things, taking care of their parents and children, are left thinking they are alone. To those Canadians I say you are not alone. You are the majority as has been shown to me with all the support I have received. I will continue you represent you and your views on Parliament Hill.
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