Last week I was happy to share with everyone here a great development from Northwestern Ontario regarding Senator Lynn Beyak and the calls for her to be removed. Last week we saw seven young municipal leaders from across the political spectrum call for Beyak to be removed from the Red Chamber, issuing a joint statement calling on the Senate to do just that.
When that came out, part of my hope was that the courage that these seven young leaders showed would help other leaders in Northwestern Ontario step out and do the same thing. I hoped that it would help others speak out and make a similar stand. Well it seems that might now be the case, and it looks like it might come in the form of an old-time shunning from her hometown:
Dryden Councilor Shayne MacKinnon has decided to step up, bringing forward a motion of censure, which has been tabled for their council meeting tonight. The motion itself is very direct and clear, laying out the background of what’s happened here and making some very specific statements that call Mrs. Beyak out on her bevahiour. The motion includes blunt, honest statements, like the following:
- The behaviour of Senator Beyak offends these aforementioned values, civic duties, and the honour of being a public official representing the people of Northwestern Ontario;
- Senator Beyak is unelected, and will never face the electorate for her performance, which has become a reputational and social concern to the City, its region, and its citizens;
- The board of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, Grand Council Treaty #3, the Métis National Council, and numerous other Indigenous organizations have called for Senator Beyak to resign;
- 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;
- There are many federal policy priorities that a Senator for a vast region like Northwestern Ontario could use her office to support, but evidently has not
And if you felt that wasn’t strong enough, the “be it resolved’s” are another piece of speaking truth to power:
- The City condemns the conduct of Senator Beyak that has given rise to these events, and disavows any racist statements or publications made or promoted by the Senator, particularly as they have come to be attributed to the City;
- The City takes exception to Senator Beyak representing the City in any way or speaking on behalf of or for the community in any official forum or publication;
- The City calls for the Senator to immediately resign her position and offer a comprehensive apology to Canadians – and in particular Indigenous Canadians;
Everyone, now that’s a strongly worded statement that leaves very little ambiguity about how Coun. MacKinnon feels. It cuts right to the point that whenever Mrs. Beyak and her comments are raised, her hometown of Dryden also gets mentioned and associated with the story. It’s easy to picture how that would start to wear on a town, one that’s already struggling enough, without getting attached to racist comments and ignorance that is making Beyak a joke from coast to coast to coast. But to see the strength of this statement is something else to behold, making it clear that not only do they condemn her, they feel that she is taking up a seat in the Red Chamber that could be much better used by someone who was actually doing something productive. That folks is a shunning.
Now we’ll see what happens with this motion at Dryden Council tonight, but I’d imagine that Coun. MacKinnon wouldn’t have brought this forward without running it by some of his colleagues to ensure that he could actually get it past. While the optics of taking this stand are important, they would be equally damaging if the council actually rejected it and showed itself to be standing up for Beyak over the community. But in the meantime, we’re starting to see more and more leaders in Northwestern Ontario speaking out, acting and putting pressure on the Senate to do the right thing. The question that remains at this point is if the Senate itself will start to act on this kind of action and do what they know is right. It’s past time for Mrs. Beyak to be removed from the Senate, and thankfully more leaders are speaking out to call for just that.
UPDATE – Tuesday February 25, 2020 @ 12:00 pm EST – Well it looks like Dryden Council has stepped up to the plate. According to DrydenNow.com, “the motion to censure, or express severe disapproval in a formal statement, was unanimously accepted by councillors at a regular council meeting.” With that, the motion was accepted and according to Willow Fiddler of APTN News we hear this:
So there will be a vote on March 23rd, but from the reaction seen on DrydenNow.com, it looks like this motion was well received as it was received unanimously. I look forward to hearing how it does in March.