Conservative leader Andrew Scheer will pay the price at the ballot box for banishing Sen. Lynn Beyak from the Conservative caucus, according to Nick Beyak, the senator's son who is also a city councillor in Dryden, Ont.
Sen. Lynn Beyak was removed from the Senate Conservative caucus and the National Conservative Party of Canada caucus Thursday after she refused to remove racist letters received from the public denigrating Indigenous people from her personal Senate website. She remains a member of the Senate.
- Sen. Lynn Beyak kicked out of Conservative caucus after refusing to remove 'racist' comments online
- Andrew Scheer 'condemns' Lynn Beyak's take on First Nations issues, but leaves her in caucus
- Lynn Beyak removed from Senate's Aboriginal peoples committee
Nick Beyak said he believes many Conservative supporters are disappointed with Scheer's move to kick the senator out of caucus and with the party's previous disciplinary actions against his mother.
"For the Leader of the Opposition to want to stifle comments from Canadians is not a strategy for election," said Nick Beyak in a telephone interview Friday.
"It is already affecting their fundraising. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the majority of Canadians agree with the comments Sen. Beyak has said."
Scheer's office said it would not respond to Nick Beyak's comments beyond the statement released Thursday.
Son quits Conservative Party
Nick Beyak, who owns two car dealerships and was appointed to fill a vacancy on Dryden city council last August, said he tossed his party membership last year after interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose removed the senator from her committee roles.
Sen. Lynn Beyak initially waded into controversy last spring after delivering a speech in the Senate suggesting it was time to highlight the positive aspects of residential schools. Her comments were widely condemned, including by Sen. Murray Sinclair, the former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The senator then reignited outrage last September after suggesting First Nations people should trade in their status cards for Canadian citizenship.
Nick Beyak said his mother is not a racist and was speaking the truth in her comments on residential schools.
"How can you say that nurses and priests were bad people and did no good at those schools?" said Nick Beyak.
"How can a logical person say that and call a person who says that a racist? The connection is impossible."
About 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their parents by law and forced to attend residential schools over the century-long existence of the institutions. According to the TRC's research, at least 6,000 children died at the schools from disease, mishaps and abuse, but it may be impossible to determine the final number because many records were destroyed over the years. Many children were buried in graves lost to time.
Residential schools, run by Ottawa and the churches, aimed to eradicate Indigenous culture and fully assimilate Indigenous children.
Nick Beyak said the Conservative leadership is cowed by political correctness and its enforcers in the media.
"Unfortunately no one in Ottawa has the courage to stand behind her," he said.
"[Leader of Conservative Senate caucus] Larry Smith, [Conservative leader] Andrew Scheer, it's disgraceful that there are people in that level of power have that lack of courage.
"I think that we are currently in an environment where any, quote-unquote, politically incorrect views are met with offence and insult. That is not how you improve a country when we cannot have discussions about the plight of Indigenous people."
Upset with AFN National Chief
While much about the ongoing controversy engulfing his mother bothers him, Nick Beyak took particular umbrage with Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde's appearance on CBC-TV's This Hour has 22 Minutes last fall to mock Sen. Beyak.
"He has time to do that while, daily, his people are starving, they are raped and living in horrible conditions and he has the time to go on TV and make fun of Sen. Beyak?" said Nick Beyak.
"If I were a member of that community, I would want new leadership and he should be ashamed of himself. And you can print that."
Don Kelly, communications director for the AFN, said the "four-minute" interview on the comedy show did not take away from the national chief's focus on the issues that matter.
"[Bellegarde] believes that education and awareness lead to understanding and action," said Kelly, in a statement.
"This includes addressing uninformed and unhelpful comments like those made by Sen. Beyak, and ensuring Canadians understand the reality behind the kinds of issues Coun. Beyak describes."