A letter to the senator

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Dear Senator Lynn Beyak, I see you’re back in the news. Given your flair for putting the wrong foot forward, it comes as no surprise to anyone who follows Canadian politics. What is surprising is that it has taken so long for Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Party to expel you from its caucus, following the recent addition of a Letters of Support section to your Senate website.

Senator, we understand that the letters section is intended to justify your notorious statements last year that residential schools were a good thing for generations of Native children in Canada. You also said that Indigenous people should trade in their status cards for Canadian citizenship, apparently not understanding that First Nations people born in Canada are already citizens.

Your move to have your supporters justify your statements obviously backfired as many of the letters contained viciously racist statements.

The letters are disturbing, to say the least. Global News reported that most of the 103 letters you posted had content that “could be described as racist or anti-Indigenous sentiments.”

One example they highlighted said, “To expect the Canadian government to continue to subsidize a culture which is often damaging to new generations of Indigenous youth, is just bizarre.”

Another letter claims that “the Indians, First Nations or whatever they want to be called have milked this issue to their decided advantage.” It goes on to say that you shouldn’t back down.

Ms. Beyak, it remains astonishing that you believe an “abundance of good” resulted from the residential school system.

One of your supporters takes NDP MP Romeo Saganash to task for calling residential schools an example of genocide. It shouldn’t be a controversial statement; the United Nations definition of genocide includes “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

All of these things have taken place within Canada and at least two of those conditions apply to the Canadian residential school system.

Every senator is provided a page at sencanada.ca to showcase their many achievements, speeches, sponsored bills, photos, news releases and more. Each senator is responsible for the content. One has to ask: in what way should you be held responsible?

To say an abundance of good came out of this system is a blatant of attempt to whitewash a dark part of Canadian history. Likewise, Senator Beyak, you are either ignorant of or intentionally ignoring Section 35 of the Constitution Act, which recognizes Aboriginal and treaty rights.

Anyone who believes good could come out of genocide, who seeks to circumvent the Canadian constitution and who posts attacks against a part of the population on a government-funded website shows a lack of accountability required of those who represent the Canadian people.

Five of your fellow senators have requested an investigation into your website for potential violations of the Senate’s code of conduct. Sadly, though you could be disciplined, you cannot be removed from the Senate for your questionable conduct.

You should do the right thing and resign. That you have refused to do so in the past and are unlikely to now shows the absolute need for Senate reform in Canada.

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