Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says Sen. Lynn Beyak’s recent remarks about First Nations people went a step too far, but he won’t remove her from the Tory fold just yet.
“I certainly don’t agree with her sentiments, she doesn’t speak for our caucus, our party. I certainly condemn the choice of words that she used,” Scheer said in an interview with CBC’s Power and Politics Monday.
Scheer said the northwestern Ontario senator has “no role” in the caucus.
As of late Monday, Beyak is still a Conservative member on three Senate committees, including transport, agriculture and defence. A spokesperson for Conservative Senate leader Larry Smith did not answer when asked if she would remain on those committees moving forward.
However, Scheer opened the door for Beyak to step aside from the party if she cannot commit to embracing a “positive, inclusive message” that he wants to share with Canadians.
“If they don’t share in that vision, then they have a choice to make,” he said.
When asked about his appeal among Indigenous peoples given his response to Beyak, Scheer said Conservative policies appeal to all Canadians.
“We want them to be partners in prosperity, we want them to share in the economic benefits of some of the natural resources projects that are available,” he said, noting some First Nations peoples have supported pipeline development like Enbridge’s now-defunct Northern Gateway and TransCanada’s Energy East.
Beyak recently said she thought First Nations should give up their status cards, pursue a negotiated settlement to put an end treaty agreements and become Canadian citizens. (Indigenous people born in this country are citizens.)
“None of us are leaving, so let’s stop the guilt and blame and find a way to live together and share,” she wrote in an open letter recently posted to her website. “All Canadians are then free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime.”
Beyak has also defended the legacy of the residential school system, while criticizing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that conducted an exhaustive six-year study of the institutions.
“A small number of Aboriginals found the schools bad,” she wrote in the open letter. “Only 1 in 3 Indigenous children ever attended them. Very few were torn from their parents arms,…