POLITICS
04/30/2019 17:12 EDT | Updated 04/30/2019 21:45 EDT

Lynn Beyak’s Racist Letters Merit Suspension Without Pay: Senate Committee

The Senate ethics committee thinks a suspension will make Beyak appreciate her role as a senator more.

Canadian Press
A picture of Sen. Lynn Beyak accompanies other senators' official portraits on a display in Centre Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sept. 21, 2017.

OTTAWA — The Senate ethics committee has recommended that Sen. Lynn Beyak be suspended without pay for the remainder of Parliament after posting racist content on her publicly funded website.

Suspension is one of five punishments the committee of her peers recommended in a report released Tuesday.

The committee mentions how Beyak dragged out their work by not being responsive in communication, which delayed the release of their study.

"The lack of access to Senate resources during a period of suspension may help foster a greater appreciation of those resources and the attendant expectations for their appropriate use," the report reads.

Watch: Senator says positive residential school stories are 'unacknowledged'

The committee has asked Beyak to remove five racist letters that remain posted on her Senate website. They also recommend that the senator attend, at her own expense, education programs "related to racism toward Indigenous peoples in Canada."

Members also asked for Beyak to agree to a briefing with the Senate clerk reminding her of her role and responsibilities as a member of the upper chamber; as well as an apology in writing "addressed to all senators."

The recommendations come more than a month after the Senate ethics officer found Beyak violated conflict-of-interest rules after posting letters supportive of her controversial view that residential schools were a positive experience for many Indigenous children.

The committee was tasked with reviewing the Senate ethics officer's report and recommending sanctions.

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Beyak was appointed to the upper chamber in 2013 by former prime minister Stephen Harper.

She delivered a speech in the Senate in March 2018 speaking to the "unacknowledged" positive stories that also emerged from the era of residential schools. She defended religious teachers who ran the schools at the time as "well-intentioned" people.

Approximately 150,000 Indigenous children were separated from their families during the operation of residential schools between the late 1880s to 1996.

Testimony from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) from more than 6,000 people affected by residential schools spoke to "institutionalized" child neglect and the systematic destruction of Aboriginal culture. The TRC likened residential schools to a system of "cultural genocide."

Beyak was subsequently kicked out of the Conservative caucus following public backlash over her comments. She currently sits in the Senate as an unaffiliated member.

Calls for resignation renewed

The ethics committee's recommendations will now be considered by the full Senate.

Independent Sen. Pierre Dalphond said Beyak's continued refusal to remove the "offensive" and racist letters crossed a line in a political era in Canada where reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is front of mind.

"There's nothing to do except to apologize and try to do reconciliation — and what she did was not at all assisting," Dalphond told CBC's Power & Politics Tuesday.

He said that time has come for Beyak to do one last honourable thing: resign.

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