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.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer takes media questions in Ottawa on July 20, 2017. Photo by Alex Tétreault

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.

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Comments

I pity the cons for having the right wing nuts to worry about every day. Maybe we could have a decent opposition system if the ignorant did not feel so entitled.

Why do the right wing fringe feel so much more entitled than the left fringe do? I guess it reflects the basic differences. Right wingers live in a fantasy of individual effort bringing success, while lefties live in a fantasy of common effort bringing comm-unity.

Political Correctness continues to get in the way of freedom to comment on how society is evolving. There are elements in the notes published in this article that government's should pay attention to. IE: it's time to move on and take corrective action by government, society, media, Indigenous people and all Canadians to address regulations that prevent corrective action being taken by all parties. Apologies with no corrective action are hollow and accomplish nothing.

While I don’t condone the residential schools and the system that was behind them, I can’t believe that it was 100% wicked and that all the teachers etc were monsters preying on and putting down all the children. I am sad and am concerned about all those snatched from their homes and hurt by the system and support their claims. But It was done in a different time when the ideas of integration of indigenous people ( and immigrants also) was considered to be the responsible thing to do. We are judging all actions with today’s values. At that time many kids around Canada were often subject to harsh physical punishment at home and schools and many started to work even as pre-teens. I wonder if we can ever look at this issue in a more balanced way in context. With more understanding of events and changes in value systems. Perhaps I am also not politically correct at this point. My apologies for that.

Hey, Val Marie, I get your point (I'm over 60 and remember those times) and I was there once in my thinking around this thing. But, you know, the more I read about what Canadian politicians and officials at all levels said, what church officials said at the time, in writing, on the official record, (never mind the stories), the more I began to understand that this was an attempt at a cultural genocide. I think you are right, it was based on ignorance, and we've learned a lot since. But, you know, I think we have to own up to what happened, and seriously get to work on repairing the damage that was done in my name and yours. It's not about being politically correct, (although there are those that think that is the real issue), it just about being honest about who we are, both the good stuff and the bad stuff. When I think about what it would feel like to have my children forcibly removed by someone from another culture, taken far away, and made to live as members of that culture, well, I just can't imagine I would accept that without a fight -- but if I survived the fight, and they still took my kids, I guess the next best thing would be to find a way to live with myself and my failure .... maybe in alcohol or drugs. I guess I think now it is more than just looking at the past through today's lens, but rather looking at the future, and asking what needs to be done to make this thing right for our children and grandchildren to be able to live in dignity.

While I don’t condone the residential schools and the system that was behind them, I can’t believe that it was 100% wicked and that all the teachers etc were monsters preying on and putting down all the children. I am sad and am concerned about all those snatched from their homes and hurt by the system and support their claims. But It was done in a different time when the ideas of integration of indigenous people ( and immigrants also) was considered to be the responsible thing to do. We are judging all actions with today’s values. At that time many kids around Canada were often subject to harsh physical punishment at home and schools and many started to work even as pre-teens. I wonder if we can ever look at this issue in a more balanced way in context. With more understanding of events and changes in value systems. Perhaps I am also not politically correct at this point. My apologies for that.

The statement that "some good came out of Canada's residential school system" should not be controversial.

Yes, the system may have caused a lot of harm as well. Doubtless, it did.

Our culture was misguided, not evil. In that day, residential schools in general were seen as prestigious, the domain of the privileged. Corporate punishment was the norm in all schools in Canada. The need for a safe, supported environment for the young was barely comprehended, as least not in the way we understand now. The value of preserving cultural integrity was unknown. All these things need to be acknowledged before we romp into the politically fashionable assertions we surround ourselves with today.

We had lost the mutual trust between First Nations and European peoples that was generally present in pre-confederation relationships. It is up to our generation to rebuild that respect.

This is a common ploy for those who have been caught making statements like the ones that Senator Beyak has made. The sad thing is that she has views that are not too dissimilar to the views that many Canadians do share. I live in Alberta where we have been criticized for creating politicians like this such as the Wildrose Candidate who said that he had the "Caucasian Advantage" or the other candidate who made a claim of gays being thrown into "a lake of fire", but this is one that the rest of Canada can't blame on us. The only thing that you can do is challenge these views when they come up where you live.

I'm a white, male, 60-something, middle class, married with a family, retired after a couple of careers kind of guy. I'm also a guy who lived in ignorance for a long time. I cannot imagine the hatred I would have felt if someone had forcibly taken my children from me and required them to live far away under the supervision of strangers from another culture. Change will begin here when we choose to acknowledge how terrible this thing was, and take action to do what we can to help heal the damage. Apologists like Beyak are not tolerated even a little bit when they talk about Jews and Nazis, or Tutsi's and Hutus, but somehow she thinks she should get a pass because she is talking about Indigenous peoples. Apparently a good number of others think she should get a pass as well. Canada did its best (that is "Our Canada" by the way) to exterminate a culture. We need to own that and stop the nonsense.

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