Conservative senators came to the defence of their colleague Lynn Beyak Tuesday, saying she has the right to free speech and should remain a member of the Red Chamber’s Aboriginal Peoples committee, despite her rosy views of the residential school system.
“Senator Beyak has exercised her right to free speech. We don’t want a bunch of yes people on committees who are only going to agree with what everyone else is saying,” Senator Don Plett, the Conservative whip, told reporters when asked if he will remove her from the committee.
As for the outrage expressed by some of her fellow senators and residential school survivors, Plett said, “Life will go on. The sun will rise tomorrow and set again tomorrow night and we’ll continue. There is no next step.”
Plett said the Senate’s reputation hasn’t been damaged by her comments. “This may or may not affect her reputation,” he said.
‘She’s really made a fool of herself in public.’
– Senator Lillian Dyck
Alberta Conservative Senator Scott Tannas said he doesn’t think she should be removed from the committee, even if there are mounting calls to toss her.
“From my point of view, it’s a matter that’s finished and we’ll move forward. She’s entitled to her opinions, she’s a senator, she represents folks in her region and I’m prepared to move forward,” he said. “I think better works get done when people from a multitude of views are around.”
Beyak was present at the committee’s meeting Tuesday the day after she told CBC News she stands by her defence of residential schools. She said she doesn’t “need any more education” about their horrors because she has lived in northwestern Ontario for 40 years, and that she “suffered” alongside residential school survivors.
Historian Jim Miller, who was a witness before the committee, said about Beyak’s remarks that “education is extremely important. There’s been a breakdown in the dissemination of knowledge that has been accumulated and circulated in the…