Scheer Not Ready to Remove Senator Lynn Beyak from Caucus
OTTAWA -- Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is not ready to remove Sen. Lynn Beyak from caucus, despite her coming under fire over her suggestion that First Nations people give up their status cards.
Scheer said Sen. Beyak "no longer has a role" in the Conservative caucus, but didn’t elaborate on what that means, and stopped short of saying whether he’d take action to remove her.
"I believe in having a positive, respectful approach to First Nations' issues," said Scheer in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period airing Sunday.
"Members of Parliament, members of the Senate who share in that can play a valuable role. Members who don’t, have to make that decision."
Sen. Beyak is facing renewed criticism for her comments about Indigenous people after an open letter she published on her Senate website came to light earlier this week.
"None of us are leaving, so let’s stop the guilt and blame and find a way to live together and share. Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties, and move forward together just like the leaders already do in Ottawa," Sen. Beyak wrote.
Indigenous people who were born in Canada are Canadian citizens.
Scheer said the leader of the Conservatives in the Senate, Sen. Larry Smith, is dealing with it.
Earlier this week, Smith’s office said he’s taken "additional steps to address Senator Beyak’s ongoing role within our Caucus."
The Ontario senator was removed from the Senate Committee on Aboriginal People last spring, by his predecessor Rona Ambrose, after Beyak said there were positives that came from residential schools.
Canada's minister for Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs Carolyn Bennett slammed Sen. Beyak's recent comments as "uninformed and simply offensive," and Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman called for her resignation from the Senate.
Scheer is suggesting Sen. Beyak talk to survivors of residential schools.
"Talk to many of the survivors, many of the people who have come and shared their stories with either a parliamentary committee, or in the Truth and Reconciliation [Commission]," he said.
Sen. Beyak told CTV News Wednesday that her letter stands for itself and she will not comment further. A call to her office Friday went unanswered and her voicemail box was full.
In the wide-ranging interview, Scheer also delved in to his planned line of attack over the Liberal's proposed changes aimed at addressing tax loopholes for business owners; said he will be voting against the government’s marijuana legalization legislation because he says the government’s "artificial deadline" is rushing a major shift in Canadian society; and doubled back on the government’s payout to Omar Khadr, which he views as the “absolute wrong thing to do.”
Independent senator Patrick Brazeau also weighs in on Sen. Beyak's comments, tomorrow on CTV's Question Period.
Watch Question Period Sunday mornings on CTV, CTV News Channel, CTVNEWS.CA, and CTV News GO at 11 a.m. ET, 10 a.m. CT, 9 a.m. MT and 8 a.m. PT