Sen. Lynn Beyak says she's ready for Senate duty again

OTTAWA — Sen. Lynn Beyak says she's met all the conditions to return to work after being suspended by her colleagues.

Last spring, Beyak's fellow senators kicked her out temporarily after concluding that several letters she had posted to her website were racist.

Beyak, who represents Ontario, posted those letters among many others supporting her view that some Indigenous people had positive experiences in residential schools.

In a message to other senators that she shared publicly late Wednesday, Beyak wrote that she's removed the letters, taken education programs on racism toward Indigenous people, absorbed a briefing on the responsibilities of a senator, and delivered an apology to the Senate's clerk.

Her suspension ended automatically when Parliament was dissolved for the federal election in October.

Beyak's missive is meant to make the case that she's entitled to serve in the upper house again and should not face a renewed suspension.

"I deeply respect the Senate and love working with my Senate colleagues," the message says. "I pledge myself to uphold the highest standards of conduct and look forward to working hard for all of the people of Ontario and Canada."

Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded that generations of Indigenous people suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse at residential schools that they were required to attend, often far from their homes and families. Thousands died of malnutrition and disease and many others emerged with permanent psychological injuries.

Beyak argued it was unfair to focus on the harms done at the schools, since some children who attended them received an education and proper care.

Some of the letters she posted to her website were from people who agreed with that point of view; others attacked Indigenous Peoples and their cultures more generally.

Beyak was appointed to the Senate on the advice of Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper in 2013. Before she was suspended from the Senate, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer removed her from the Tory caucus. She now sits apart from any of the Senate's groups.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2019.

The Canadian Press