|Assumed office |
January 25, 2013
|Nominated by||Stephen Harper|
|Appointed by||David Johnston|
Jean Lynn Smith
February 18, 1949
|Political party||Non-affiliated (2018–present)|
|Conservative (until 2018)|
(m. 1970; his death 2002)
A business owner in Dryden, Ontario, Beyak worked in tourism, insurance and real estate. She co-owned General Motors dealerships with her late husband in Dryden and Fort Frances. Beyak was previously a candidate for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in the Ontario provincial elections of 1995 and 1999, and has served on the Fort Frances-Rainy River board of education. She was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 2013. One of her first notable acts was to support the majority Senate decision to bring in the Auditor General to examine alleged financial indiscretion.
Residential schools stance
Beyak is critical of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that the Canadian Indian residential school system was plagued with systemic physical, mental, and sexual abuse and directly resulted in the death of at least six thousand children from malnutrition and disease. Beyak said that those findings overshadowed the "good deeds" of "well-intentioned" residential school workers. Sen. Beyak's position was supported by Conrad Black stating that "Most of the teachers in those remote schools were dedicated people who believed in what they were doing and were trying to prepare their charges for full participation in Canadian life". She also received support from Lorrie Goldstein, who quoted the renowned Cree novelist, playwright, classical pianist and Order of Canada recipient, Tomson Highway who said "All we hear is the negative stuff, nobody's interested in the positive". Beyak's statement was repudiated by New Democratic Party Indigenous Affairs critic and residential school survivor Romeo Saganash, who called on her to resign for praising a system that amounted to cultural genocide, as defined by the United Nations; Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, who called for better education on the subject matter; and Conservative Indigenous Affairs critic Cathy McLeod, who said that Beyak's praise did not reflect the views of the party, which under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, had made a formal apology for the residential schools. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde also criticized the statement for defending a system that had deep negative effects on Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Beyak would later attack criticism of her speech as fake news. However, Beyak's thoughts were deemed out of line with the Conservative party's history on the subject matter by the party's interim leader Rona Ambrose, who stated it was untenable for her to keep her position on the Aboriginal people's committee due to the misalignment of Beyak's comments. On April 5, 2017, Beyak was removed from her Aboriginal people's committee Senate post.
After the Canadian government reorganized the Indian Affairs department August 28, 2017, forming two departments, for Indigenous and Northern Affairs and separately for Indigenous Services, each under its own minister, Sen. Beyak made another public statement: "Let's stop the guilt and blame and find a way to live together and share. Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties, and move forward together ... All Canadians are then free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime. The emphasis should be on individual prosperity and responsibility, with more money in the pockets of the local people, and not just national leaders and bureaucracies." According to Saskatoon StarPhoenix columnist Doug Cuthand, her comments indicated ignorance of history, as the indigenous peoples of Canada were extended Canadian citizenship in 1951. The mayors of Edmonton, Alberta and Winnipeg, Manitoba have called on her to resign. According to Brian Giesbrecht of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, "Sen. Beyak has an abiding belief that the system we have in this country is not working, despite what the flabbergasted mayor and interviewer think of her." "When the senator says that status Indians are not true Canadian citizens, she is absolutely correct." "The fact is that status Indians living on reserves are legally very different from mainstream Canadians in many important ways."
Following the backlash regarding her controversial speech, Ms. Beyak published, on her senate web page, samples of a large number of letters she received from Canadian citizens supporting her belief that what is being done for Canada's Indigenous People is not effective. Towards the end of December 2017, Beyak faced considerable social media backlash regarding these letters. On January 4, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh demanded Senator Beyak's resignation. In a statement to the media, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, explained that while most letters focused on the history of residential schools, some letters had comments regarding indigenous Canadians in general. He pointed out a particularly troubling passage from one of the letters, that stated "I'm no anthropologist but it seems every opportunistic culture, subsistence hunter/gatherers seeks to get what they can for no effort. There is always a clash between an industrial/organized farming culture that values effort as opposed to a culture that will sit and wail until the government gives them stuff", calling the comment "simply racist" and her promotion of such comments "offensive and unacceptable". In a media statement, Scheer said that he removed Beyak from the Conservative caucus after she refused his demand that she remove some of the comments. Scheer's spokesperson said this demand was made in a telephone call, but Beyak denied that Scheer, anyone from his office, or the Senate leadership had asked her to take down a letter. A senior Conservative source confirmed Beyak's account. Following a Senate inquiry, a finding was made that Senator Beyak had breached the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators by posting letters on her Senate website that contained racist content. She was ordered to remove the racist letters from her Senate website, to make a formal apology for posting the letters in question, and to complete a cultural sensitivity course with an emphasis on Indigenous issues. She subsequently refused to remove the letters, and was suspended from the Senate for the remainder of the parliamentary session.
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- "Prime Minister Harper appoints Dryden resident to Senate of Canada". Kenora Daily Miner. January 26, 2013.
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- Tasker, John Paul (March 8, 2017). "Conservative senator defends 'well-intentioned' residential school system". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-03-08.
- "Conrad Black: Pull yourselves together, senators — Don Meredith and Lynn Beyak don't deserve to be kicked out". National Post. 2017-03-17. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
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- Tasker, John Paul (March 9, 2017). "Senator's defence of residential schools akin to excusing Holocaust, NDP MP says". CBC News. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
- Tasker, John Paul (March 16, 2017). "Senator Lynn Beyak stands by residential school remarks, cites 'fake news'". CBC News. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
- Tasker, John Paul (April 5, 2017). "Lynn Beyak removed from Senate's Aboriginal peoples committee". CBC News. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
- Campion-Smith, Bruce (April 5, 2017). "Senator dumped from aboriginal issues committee for controversial views". Toronto Star. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
- Cuthand, Doug (September 16, 2017). "Cuthand: First Nations people are Canadian citizens". Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
- Giesbrecht, Brian (2017-09-18). "Ignorance or Wisdom?". Frontier Centre For Public Policy. Retrieved 2017-11-11.
- "Ousted Tory senator denies Andrew Scheer's version of events | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
- "Independent senators call for ethics probe into 'deeply offensive' comments on Lynn Beyak's website". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
- Tasker, John Paul (2019-05-09). "Lynn Beyak suspended from Senate after refusing to take down letters condemned as racist". CBC. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
- "Tony Beyak obituary". Winnipeg Free Press. June 1, 2002. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- "Son comes to Sen. Lynn Beyak's defence, says Conservative leadership cowed by political correctness | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2018-01-12.