Thunder Bay

Northwestern Ontario politicians call on Senate to expel Lynn Beyak

A group of seven municipal councillors from northwestern Ontario, including Thunder Bay councillors Shelby Ch'ng and Cody Fraser and Fort Frances councillor Douglas Judson, has issued a statement calling on the Senate to do everything in its power to vacate the seat held by Lynn Beyak.

7 young municipal councillors from Kenora to Thunder Bay say 'enough is enough'

The Senate ethics committee has recommended that Lynn Beyak be suspended a second time from the upper house because she failed to complete cultural competency training following her first suspension, which was triggered by her posting letters to her senate website that contained racist language. (CBC)

A group of seven municipal councillors from northwestern Ontario, including Thunder Bay councillors Shelby Ch'ng and Cody Fraser and Fort Frances councillor Douglas Judson, has issued a statement calling on the Senate to do everything in its power to vacate the seat held by Lynn Beyak.

"Collectively, we are a caucus of the youngest municipal representatives in the region, and as such, we are uniquely positioned to comment on the aspirations and challenges of our communities, and the bonds which must be strengthened between all treaty people who share this territory.

Today we come together to speak out on an issue which continues to sow shame in our region, to bring disrepute to our communities, and to signal-boost racism in our midst. It is an issue which deserves a forthright response from all political leaders who share the honour of representing the Northwest, " reads the statement released Wednesday.  It was also signed by Ear Falls councillor Daniel Sutton, Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls councillor Andrew Nisly, Kenora councillor Kirsi Ralko and Sioux Lookout councillor Joe Cassidy. 

The senator from Dryden was suspended in May 2019 for the remainder of the parliamentary session after refusing to remove letters from her senate website which contained racist language; the Senate Ethics Officer found that Beyak had violated Senate rules by posting the documents.    

"Since then, it has come to light in a new report from the Senate's Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest that the Senator has not sufficiently complied with the measures put in place by the Senate to address her behaviour," the younger regional politicians noted. 

"Disturbing accounts of the Senator's participation in an Indigenous cultural sensitivity training session have emerged, which cast serious doubt on her willingness to learn and accept the facts and lived experiences of Indigenous people, or to recognize that racism persists in our region and across Canada," the group of councillors stated. 

The Senate committee reported earlier in February that Beyak had failed to complete three days of cultural competency training and told instructors she was Métis because her parents had adopted an Indigenous child.  

"Engaging in the process of reconciliation and strengthening relationships with local First Nation and Métis communities helps our communities to move forward. We take exception to the unelected Senator's ongoing use of a privileged and well-compensated public office to undermine those efforts," the councillors wrote.  

"At a time when many communities and worthy causes across our region are in need of leadership and voice on the national stage, it is simply no longer acceptable for Senator Beyak to squander her office and its resources to cast aspersions on Indigenous people, obscure the reality of racism and those who experience it, and bring disrepute to our region."  

"The Senate committee recommends that the Senator be suspended again, but enough is enough," the councillors stated.  

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