Responding to Senator Beyak on her Open Letter

Canadian Senate
Canadian Senate
Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak is standing by her comments and claiming it is a free speech issue. An empty desk?

THUNDER BAY –  Northwestern Ontario Senator Beyak is at it again. A few months ago, the Senator from Dryden made comments on Residential Schools that resulted in widespread outrage from Indigenous people.

The Senator had appeared to make steps to start learning a little more about the real impact on so many people. Then the Senator wrote another piece that she sent out to media and published on her website.

In the interest of sharing the Senator’s words, NetNewsLedger published the Senator’s article. Free speech is important in our society, and letting people across the region read what the Senator, who apparently represents each of the residents is important.

What Senator Beyak does not appear to have taken the information provided to her from survivors of Residential School and gained an understanding or appreciation for the impact of the real damage.

The question for the Senator is what part of Prime Minister Harper’s full and unabridged apology did she not understand? If she didn’t agree with what the Prime Minister who appointed her to the Senate, she could have resigned her seat.

Instead the Senator repeatedly seems to be attempting to justify what happened to countless young people as Canada sought to achieve a cultural genocide.

Senator Beyak, just how many rapes, beatings, sexual assaults, and deaths does it take for you to understand how deeply the abuses of Residential Schools have impacted Indigenous people?

What the Senator seems to not understand is Canada has a treaty responsibility to our Indigenous people. That seemingly special status is not actually a relationship with Canada per se but a relationship between the people and the crown.

A lack of understanding of those points appears to be at the centre of Senator Beyak’s failure to understand – what is worse is that instead of learning or being willing to learn she appears to want to run head on and full speed in a direction counter to people across Canada, and internationally.

That point has been made very clear in the Senator’s latest opinion piece.

Once again, the Conservative Senator has demonstrated what could be called an uncanny skill. The Senator perhaps without realizing it is demonstrating that the Canadian Senate is a political body in dire need of change.

Kenora MP Bob Nault states, “I just honestly don’t think she has any idea what she’s talking about when it comes to Aboriginal affairs and the issues that have confronted Indigenous people over the last 100 years. And to continue to find a way to have this discussion, as if she has something to prove, is not helpful in our relationship building exercise. I don’t understand why she would want to revisit the controversy she created by not being well-informed.”

Bob Nault has offered to take the Senator on a trip north to educate herself on the realities of people in the north. The Senator has reportedly refused that generous offer.

Timmins James Bay MP Charlie Angus states, “Senator Lynn Beyak is a paid right wing troll. She was appointed to the Senate by Harper where she lives off the salary and benefits of Canadian taxpayers despite having no credibility, competence or fitness for public office. Canadians deserve better. The corrupt Senate has to be overhauled or eliminated so such unaccountable insiders can be held accountable by the citizens who pay their rich perks.”

For decades, there have been calls for reforming the Senate.

The current body, meant to be a place of sober second thought has increasingly become further and further out of touch with the realities of the areas the individual Senators represent.

Ask yourself, does Senator Beyak represent you? Did you even know she is the appointed representative for Northwestern Ontario?

The reality is simple, the process of appointing Senators isn’t an effective way of ensuring effective representation.

Alberta has been at the vanguard of the efforts to reform the Senate. Alberta voters choose their Senator during provincial elections, their choice is then put atop the list for appointment to the upper house.

Northwestern Ontario’s Senator, who refuses to educate herself, as Kenora MP Bob Nault has offered to help her with a trip north is demonstrating that she isn’t a representative of our region.

Senator Beyak is a representative of her own apparent very narrow views.

Perhaps a solution is for the Senator to step down and for Northwestern Ontario to have someone in the Senate who is willing to learn from the past and build for the future.

That is until the Senate is either reformed, or abolished.

James Murray

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