POLITICS
02/01/2018 16:02 EST | Updated 02/01/2018 16:02 EST

'Racist' Beyak Letters Can Stay On Taxpayer-Funded Senate Site For Now

That can all change pending a report from the Senate ethics officer.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
A picture of Senator Lynn Beyak accompanies other Senators official portraits on a display outside the Senate on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sept. 21, 2017.

OTTAWA — A powerful Senate committee decided Thursday that they will wait for the ethics officer to complete his review before ordering Sen. Lynn Beyak to take down controversial letters of support hosted on her taxpayer-funded webpage.

The standing committee on internal economy, budgets and administration addressed requests from senators to review if the Ontario senator breached provisions in the Senate Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code by posting the letters. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called at least one of the letters "racist" after he booted Beyak from caucus for refusing to remove them last month.

Independent Sen. Larry Campbell, the committee chair, said it may be counter-productive to launch their own internal review, saying twin probes "may hinder the work that the ethics commissioner does."

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Sen. Larry Campbell, chair of the standing committee on internal economy, budgets and administration, addresses colleagues during a meeting in Centre Block on Parliament Hill on Feb. 1, 2018.

But not all committee members were keen on the wait-and-see approach.

Quebec Sen. Raymonde Saint-Germain said that the committee "must take on its responsibilities" and should delineate what constitutes as "wise" use of publicly funded resources.

Saint-Germain agreed, however, that the ethical components about Beyak's actions as a senator should be addressed by the ethics officer.

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Sen. Raymonde Saint-Germain speaks at a standing committee on internal economy, budgets and administration meeting on Parliament Hill on Feb. 1, 2018.

Campbell responded by saying that he's not against a further look into the matter, "I'm simply saying that we should allow the ethics commission to go through the process and then we can make a decision at that point."

There's an urgency for the Senate Ethics Officer to complete his preliminary report, Campbell said, but admitted that there's no set deadline for its publication.

I think we should not get ahead of ourselves.Conservative Sen. Elizabeth Marshall

Conservative Sen. Elizabeth Marshall agreed, saying, "I think we should let the ethics officer do his job." She added: "I think we should not get ahead of ourselves."

Senate Ethics Officer Pierre Legault is conducting a preliminary review into Beyak's decision to post the letters on her official webpage. It's on the basis of that preliminary review that Legault will determine if there are grounds to launch an inquiry into Beyak's actions.

Beyak was removed from the Conservative caucus last month after she refused to remove offensive letters of support from her Senate webpage.

The letters, approximately 100 of them, praised Beyak for comments she made in the Senate last March when she spoke about the "unacknowledged" positive stories from residential schools. Some of the posted letters made references to stereotypes about Indigenous peoples.

WATCH: 5 Things To Know About Lynn Beyak

The Independent Senators Group (ISG) filed a request to the committee on Jan. 9, claiming Bayak did not "uphold the highest standards of dignity" inherent to her position.

The ISG also asked the committee to discuss if "whether the posting of such materials on a website hosted by the Senate and paid for by public funds constitutes a misuse of Senate resources."

The standing committee on internal economy, budgets and administration is responsible for setting guidelines and policies related to the use of Senate resources.

It's one of three Senate committees that has the rare authority to carry out its own mandate, meaning it doesn't need an order of reference — as most committees do — to begin work on a matter.

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