OTTAWA—The newly minted leader of the Conservatives in the Senate says he intends to take a second look at Sen. Lynn Beyak to see what, if any, actions the Tories should take over her comments on residential schools.
Beyak doubled down this week on her comments that there was “good” done in residential schools, insisting that she had no need for additional education about residential schools or indigenous culture, citing a long-standing friendship with an “aboriginal fellow” and her experiences in northern Ontario.
Beyak refused to elaborate Tuesday on the comments in a CBC interview where she described an outpouring of public support for her position.
Sen. Larry Smith, who takes over as Conservative leader on Saturday, said he plans to meet the rest of his leadership team to figure out if, among other things, Beyak should be removed from the aboriginal peoples committee, given the strong emotional reaction to Beyak’s comments inside and outside the Tory caucus.
“I recognize that it is an important issue, it’s a dark part of our history in terms of what happened to the indigenous people, the children, but let us sit down and do our homework and discuss this properly so that we come out with a balanced approach,” Smith said shortly after being elected as leader.
An exhaustive study on the government-funded, church-operated schools found indigenous children endured widespread sexual and physical abuse.
Sen. Murray Sinclair, the former head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a member of the same Senate aboriginal committee as Beyak, refused to comment.