Thunder Bay city council votes against asking Senator to resign

City councillors in Thunder Bay rejected a resolution Monday night that would ask Senator Lynn Beyak to resign.

Resolution defeated in 6-6 tie

City councillors in Thunder Bay debated asking Senator Lynn Beyak to resign her seat after making comments about the citizenship of Indigenous people, and residential schools. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

City councillors in Thunder Bay, Ont., rejected a resolution Monday night that would have asked Senator Lynn Beyak to resign.

The motion came to council from Coun. Shelby Ch'ng, who was absent from Monday night's meeting. The Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) board passed its own resolution last week, asking for Beyak to leave her seat in the Senate.

The NOMA resolution stated, "That NOMA condemn the remarks of Senator Lynn Beyak and request that she resign as senator."

Other cities have asked for her resignation, including Winnipeg and Edmonton.

While no members of council said they agreed with the comments made by Beyak, they did have concerns with asking her, publicly, to leave her seat.

"Whether she is right or wrong, she is at least expressing her opinion. I have a problem that we are saying that you can't express your own opinion when that is under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that allows me to do that," said Coun. Rebecca Johnson.
Coun. Rebecca Johnson is one of six city councillors in Thunder Bay to oppose calling for the resignation of Senator Lynn Beyak. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

"I can't support this because I don't believe that taking that away from an individual is the right thing to do. And, I truly believe that we need to talk about these issues," she said. "We need to make some resolutions in our community."

"We need to step up, outside of our comfort zones. ... It is not easy to do, but if we don't do that, we are never going to resolve the issues in this country."

While councillors who voted against the resolution echoed those statements, reflecting on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, just as many councillors were in favour.

"We are representatives, and as such, have a responsibility to act responsibly,"  Coun. Paul Pugh said.

"The question of freedom of speech does not include the right to hurt other people. Freedom of speech doesn't mean you have the right to go around inflicting injury to other people."

Other councillors in favour with asking for the resignation included Larry Hebert, Andrew Foulds, Aldo Ruberto, Frank Pullia, and Iain Angus.

Those against the resolution included Mayor Keith Hobbs, and Couns. Rebecca Johnson, Lynda Rydholm, Trevor Giertuga, Brian McKinnon and Joe Virdiramo.

The resolution could still be once again on the floor at city council. When the minutues are ratified, a member of council could choose to pull the item and once again vote on it.

About the Author

Jeff Walters


Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.


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