Sen. Lynn Beyak has come out swinging against Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, accusing his office of lying only days after she was kicked out of the Conservative caucus.
In a fiery statement released on Monday, she denied Scheer's claims that she admitted to intentionally posting "racist correspondence" about Indigenous people to her Parliamentary website, and dismissed the 38-year-old as an "inexperienced leader."
Beyak made headlines last week for letters posted on her website in 2017 that supported her claim that "some good" came out of Canada's residential school system. Scheer decried some of the letters' content as "simply racist" when he kicked her out of caucus on Jan. 4, for behaviour that is "offensive and unacceptable for a Conservative Parliamentarian."
Beyak fired back on Monday, and said her website promotes the free speech of all Canadians. She said Canadians deserve "better leadership" than those it has presently, who are "mired in, or hampered by, political correctness."
"Isn't it interesting that when the media should be focused on Justin Trudeau's ethics violations and Joshua Boyle's alleged ties to the taxpayer compensated Khadr family, that old letters, on the website for months without controversy, are used to bait opposition leadership," she wrote.
"A good leader would never have fallen for such a ploy, but when an inexperienced leader wins by a small margin, and does not adequately consider other viewpoints, some wisdom and common sense are lost."
Scheer's spokesman, Jake Enwright, declined to comment on Beyak's political statements, but defended the leader against her allegations of lying. He redirected National Observer to Scheer's statement on released on Jan. 4:
"We stand by the facts that were presented in that statement in that the senator posted racist material to her Parliamentary website, it is unacceptable for a Conservative parliamentarian to engage in that kind of activity, he has demanded that the senator remove that content, she refused, and as a result of those actions Andrew Scheer... removed her from the Conservative caucus."
In response to Beyak's statement, Ministers Carolyn Bennett of Crown-Indigenous relations and Northern Affairs and Jane Philpott of Indigenous services wrote a letter to the Official Opposition seeking support in the removal the materials in question from Beyak's website.
Canadians can 'decide for themselves'
Canada's residential school system forcibly enrolled more than 100,000 Indigenous children in schools away from their families, homes and culture. Many were exposed to horrific physical, mental and sexual abuse, and ultimately, roughly 6,000 children wound up dead from malnutrition and disease.
Beyak said that contrary to Scheer's claims, he never asked her to take down roughly 100 letters from her website. She also said that Canadians don't need the government to decide for them what is "allegedly racist" and what is not.
"Canadians can read and decide for themselves what is relevant and helpful for a fresh start for those Indigenous people who still suffer, and who live in hopelessness and poverty with inadequate housing and dirty water," said Beyak. "I will continue to post the thoughtful ideas, stories, research and wisdom of the people, who recognize that enough is enough and it is time for a change."
The senator said more money is not the answer to the ongoing plight of many First Nations communities, adding that broadly speaking, Canadian leaders don't need to apologize.
"Canadians are kind and compassionate, but not stupid," she said. "There are not enough tax dollars to fix every mistake from the past. Whether you liked him or not, Pierre Elliot Trudeau was correct, when he said Canada's leaders don't need to apologize. When Canadians see inequities, we fix them, we move forward and we don't repeat them."
Bennett and Philpott call for document removal
In a Monday letter responding to Beyak's statement, Bennett and Philpott called for the letters to be taken off of Beyak's website. Addressed to Scheer and Sen. Larry Smith, leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the letter applauded the decision to remove Beyak from caucus and denounce her postings as racist, but noted that the letters in question remain online.
The ministers sought Opposition support in ensuring that the materials are removed.
"Government resources should never be used to promote hatred and divisiveness. It concerns us that, by being hosted on the official website of the Senate of Canada, these offensive comments could be construed to be endorsed by Parliament," the ministers wrote.
"We believe that the material on Senator Beyak's website should be removed as it is an obstacle to eradicating racism and engaging all Canadians on the journey of reconciliation."
Beyak now sits as an independent senator.
Editor's Note: This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. and 3:10 p.m. Eastern Time on Mon. Jan. 8, 2017 to include comments from Andrew Scheer's office and Canada's federal ministers of Crown-Indigenous relations and Indigenous services. It was also corrected — a previous version stated that the ministers had called for Beyak's website to be taken down. In fact, they called for the materials in question to be taken down.