Councillor Shayne MacKinnon with the City of Dryden doesn’t want the community to be represented by controversial Senator Lynn Beyak, who is from the city. Councillor MacKinnon is also calling for Beyak’s immediate resignation, along with an open apology to all Canadians.

MacKinnon tabled a resolution to censure the conduct of Beyak, after her suspension and repeated controversies in recent years. The motion to censure, or express severe disapproval in a formal statement, will be voted on by councillors in March.

“There continues to be racism evident in communities across Canada and in northwestern Ontario, and it is the responsibility of all public officials to use their office to eradicate it – not to deny its existence."

“The senator’s actions are misrepresentative of the city’s trajectory, its progress, the relationships and image it wishes to build with its neighbours. The city condems the conduct of Senator Beyak that has given rise to these events, and disavows and racist statements made or promoted by the Senator."

“The city calls for the senator to immediately resign her position and offer a comprehensive apology to Canadians – and in particular, Indigenous Canadians,” the resolution continued. 

MacKinnon’s resolution, if passed, would be sent to all municipalities and Metis representatives in northwestern Ontario, all Treaty #3 First Nations and Grand Council Treaty #3, all northwestern Ontario MP’s and MPP’s, the Senate Ethics Officer, the Speaker of the Senate, and the members of the Senate’s ethics and conflict of interest committee.

City councillors Douglas Judson of Fort Frances, Kirsi Ralko of Kenora, Joe Cassidy of Sioux Lookout, Daniel Sutton of Ear Falls, Andrew Nisly of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls, Cody Fraser and Shelby Ch’ng of Thunder Bay have also all called for Beyak’s resignation.

“Collectively, we are a caucus of the youngest municipal representatives in the region, and as such, we are uniquely positioned to comment on the aspirations and challenges of our communities, and the bonds which must be strengthened between all treaty people who share this territory," they said in a joint statement.

In September of 2017, members of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association called for Beyak’s resignation, after an open letter encouraging Indigenous people to “trade in their status cards to find a way to live together.” Treaty #3 Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh has also called for her resignation.

In May of 2019, a Senate ethics committee ruled that Beyak should be suspended without pay from the upper house of the current parliamentary session, following an investigation into five racist letters posted on her website. She was also removed from the Conservative Caucus for the letters in January of 2018.

One of the five letters stated that Indigenous people should be “very grateful” for residential schools. The letters have since been removed and Beyak has written an apology to the Senate.

Earlier this month, media reports made reference to a second report from the Senate's ethics committee, which was monitoring the disciplinary action. The report included correspondence from the trainers offering Indigenous sensitivity courses. In their letters, the trainers said the senator claimed to be Metis and there weren't incidents of racism in the Dryden area.

The senator has since released a statement denying her claim to Metis heritage. Correspondence from her lawyer asked for her reinstatement to the Senate, saying the training offered was disorganized and the senator had fulfilled her commitment.

Beyak's lawyer, Donald Bayne, in correspondence posted by the Senate committee has argued the senator has completed her obligations to the committee, including the recommendation to attend sensitivity training. However, since the trainers weren't prepared to offer it, Bayne says the Senate should reinstate her, since she completed the recommendations of the ethics committee in good faith.

The Prime Minister cannot fire or remove a member of the Senate. A Senator might be forced to resign or be removed by her caucus due to public pressure.

(Edit: The original version of the article indicated that MacKinnon's motion had been passed by councillors. This was in error. The resolution will be voted on in March at a regular council meeting.)

For more information:
Councillors call for senator’s release
Senator Beyak asks to be reinstated