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by Shayla Bradley
Senator Lynn Beyak, Dryden resident appointed to Senate in 2013, “demonstrated that she fails to understand what racism is,” and breached the Senate ethics code, according to ethics officer Pierre Legault.
Legault suggested she remove the letters in breach of the code, make a formal apology and post it on her site, and complete a course on cultural sensitivity with an emphasis on Indigenous issues, actions she has indicated she will not undertake.
Beyak posted supportive letters on her senate website following a speech in March 2017, during which she called into question how harmful the impacts of residential schools were.
Four senators requested an inquiry into her actions, indicating the letters Beyak published are racist. While expressing support for freedom of speech, the complainants argued that promoting racist beliefs is a limit on that right because it violates the fundamental rights of Canadians. Beyak publishing the letters gave more publicity and credibility to the assertions of the letters, complainants indicated, while the senator referred to those letters as thoughtful and the “wisdom of the people.”
Legault reviewed Beyak’s actions to see if they violated Senate ethics, specifically the part of the code that requires senators to “uphold the highest standards of dignity inherent to the position of Senator.”
In Legault’s inquiry Beyak took the position that “the excerpts from the letters identified by the complainants are not racist and/or hateful when they are read in the context of the entire letter of which they form a part.”
“In my view, there is no racism in Canada,” she testified. “Right now there are groups putting people into silos, trying to divide us, by saying that we have racism against violence, we have racism against indigenous people, Ukrainian, white privilege — I find those people racist.”
Legault’s report can be found at
More to come in next week’s Dryden Observer