Thunder Bay

Dryden Councillor blasts colleague over Beyak defense

Mary Trist says she is disappointed with Coun. Nick Beyak's remarks defending his mother, Senator Lynn Beyak over controversial comments about residential schools.

Mary Trist says members of council are supposed to bring the community together

Dryden Coun. Mary Trist said she felt compelled to denounce the views of Coun. Nick Beyak and his mother, Sen. Lynn Beyak, after seeing on-line comments wondering if all of Dryden council shared the Beyaks' opinions about residential school. (Mary Trist)

Dryden, Ont., city councillor Mary Trist is speaking out against a colleague who defended comments by Senator Lynn Beyak that some have called racist.

Trist told CBC she does not share Beyak's view that residential schools were staffed by "well-intentioned" teachers who carried out "good deeds," as Beyak has opined. 

She said she's disappointed that her fellow councillor, Nick Beyak, would defend the senator.  He is the senator's son.

Coun. Beyak told CBC last week that the majority of Canadians share his mother's beliefs about residential schools.  And he blasted Conservative leader Andrew Scheer for lacking the courage to stand up for her.

'I'm disappointed'

Scheer expelled the senator from the Conservative caucus last week for refusing to remove from her senate web site letters sent by Beyak supporters that some have characterized as racist. 

"I'm disappointed," Trist said of the younger Beyak's comments. "I'm also disappointed to hear these assumptions, especially the words 'the majority of Canadians' agree with senator Beyak. I'd like to see the statistics ... because I consider that to be quite false."

"I would suggest the reason nobody in Ottawa is standing behind her at this time is not due to lack of courage, but it's rather because comments like Sen. Beyak's have no place in 21st century Canada," she added. 

Trist decided to speak out after reading comments online from citizens who questioned whether Coun. Beyak's views were shared by the rest of Dryden council, she said.

"I just don't feel that way, so I felt compelled to let the public know that," she said.

Nick Beyak is the son of Sen. Lynn Beyak and a Dryden, Ont., city councillor. Beyak blasted Conservative leader Andrew Scheer this week, saying Scheer lacked the courage to stand up for the senator. (Dryden GM website)

Council's job is to bring the community together

Trist said she understands Coun. Beyak's desire to defend his mother but feels he chose the wrong way to go about it.

"As members of council in a community, it's our job to be leaders and to bring together our community.  I don't see this as a way of bringing our community together," she said.

Until now, Trist said, she had no indication of whether or not Coun. Beyak shared his mother's views. 

She has not yet spoken to her fellow councillors to get their reaction, she added, but she anticipates council will discuss Beyak's statements at its meeting on Monday night.