An organization representing northwestern Ontario municipalities is calling for Canadian senator Lynn Beyak's resignation after she made what the group says are "ignorant and erroneous" remarks about the country's Indigenous population.
In a letter published on her senate page on Sept. 1, Beyak — a Conservative senator from Dryden, who represents Ontario in the senate — stated Canada's Indigenous population should trade their "status card for a Canadian citizenship," even though Indigenous people born in Canada are already Canadian citizens.
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Beyak's letter started out by criticising the federal government's decision to split the Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs into two portfolios.
On Wednesday, the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) board issued a release both expressing "disgust" over Beyak's comments, and calling on her to step down from the Canadian Senate.
"Senator Beyak is not elected, and her comments are not welcomed," said Wendy Landry, the mayor of Shuniah — a rural municipality located just east of Thunder Bay — and the president of NOMA. "They are condemned by our board, and we want her to know that, and we want the government to know that."
'She does not represent us'
Landry said NOMA's board will be sending letters regarding Beyak to the Conservative Party of Canada, as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other elected officials in the region.
"We feel that anybody who is not in tune with who are Canadian citizens and who are not has no business ... in government in Canada," she said.
"If she's representing northwestern Ontario, and that is what the rest of Canada and the world is hearing from one of our senators, at such a high level in our government, then we want to make sure that people know that is not the feeling of the people of northwestern Ontario," Landry said.
"She does not represent us with this attitude."
Landry said the NOMA board voted unanimously to condemn Beyak's remarks at its Tuesday night meeting. The resolution was tabled by Thunder Bay city councilor Iain Angus, and seconded by Sioux Lookout mayor Doug Lawrance, according to a media release.
In April, Beyak was removed from the Senate's Aboriginal People's Committee after defending the residential school system.
But it seems unlikely that Beyak will resign over her latest remarks.
On Tuesday evening, as NOMA was voting on its resolution, Beyak received additional duties in the Red Chamber, being named to its energy, environment and natural resources committee.