After another week of sustained outrage about Senator Lynn Beyak, with mounting calls for her resignation, and the exasperated commentary of those Indigenous groups that have tried to educate her as to the reality of the situation that Beyak has seen fit to comment upon, we’ve also started to see articles speculating on ways that the Senate can be rid of her. Those suggestions would be a grievous mistake.
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) September 21, 2017
If you think that Senators will vote to expel someone for something they said, you’re dreaming, and its not helpful to demand that they do.
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) September 21, 2017
Nor should it happen, otherwise freedom of speech in Senate would mean nothing.
— B. Thomas Hall (@ThomasHall17) September 22, 2017
We can all agree that what Beyak has said is odious in the extreme. But the performative outrage that she should be expelled from the Senate does cross a line because as much as we all disagree with Beyak, she hasn’t broken any laws or violated any ethics rules. She may have views that are on their face racist (though she probably doesn’t see them that way – the Conservative senators that I’ve spoken to pretty much consider her a clueless Pollyanna figure who nevertheless has deeply held Christian beliefs that inform her particularly selective world view), but those views are neither illegal nor contrary to the rules of the Senate. And we should be wary of trying to regulate Senators’ speech, because that is a gross violation of parliamentary privilege. We also can’t ignore that Beyak gives voice to an ignorant segment of the population, and when she raises these views publicly, she has given rise to a debate that such a segment of the population isn’t usually exposed to. Simply demanding her removal for it is hugely problematic for all manner of reasons.
Now, the Conservative caucus has taken the steps to minimize her role as much as possible – she is off all committees, and thus marginalized from having any position of influence. Why she remains in caucus is likely because they want to maintain their plurality in the chamber for as long as possible, and with ten current vacancies (and a couple more pending), that will likely change in the coming weeks, but for now, they are looking to maintain their numbers, and Beyak’s remaining in caucus does that for them, however they’ve sidelined her. And once the Independent Senators Group forms the plurality, the Conservatives’ impetus to keep her may change, but they may also hope that she can be redeemed, as it were, with more education (and perhaps a dose of humility). Maybe. Or, this could be an early sign of trying to phase her out, where there can still be some modicum of caucus control over her actions rather than simply turning her loose, which might actually embolden her (because then she’ll be a martyr for the cause). But let’s hope that this is the Senate’s version of phasing her out.
- The president of Ukraine was in Toronto, and spoke about the need for UN peacekeepers in the region; Trudeau said Canadian arms sales are on the table.
- On the subject of peacekeepers, Canada is securing pledges in advance of a peacekeeping conference in Vancouver this fall, but still won’t commit to a mission.
- While premiers push back against the tax changes (possibly with an eye to future doctor fee negotiations), BC’s finance minister is repeating rumours of amendments.
- With more NAFTA talks this weekend, the Americans still haven’t outlined key demands, while Wilbur Ross releases a new study “proving” a need for changes.
- Here’s an interview with Jane Philpott about how she’s working on delivering for First Nations (and she has a few concrete numbers in there).
- Health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor says we need to avoid judging those affected with opioid addictions, as more federal money prepares to flow to provinces.
- The government’s definition of “middle class” continues to be unhelpful to economists.
- Here is your update on the status of the Boeing-Bombardier slap-and-hairpull fight.
- There’s a lot in this piece about just why the Phoenix pay system turned into such a huge hot mess.
- Canada has imposed sanctions on members of the Venezuelan government.
- Here’s an interview with Niki Ashton about her hard-left leadership bid.
- John Geddes digs into the framing of the tax debate.
- Andrew Coyne finds himself perplexed as to when Bombardier became a government entity, or the government a Bombardier subsidiary.
- Chantal Hébert says that we shouldn’t assume that Jagmeet Singh will automatically be a dead letter in Quebec.
- Susan Delacourt wasn’t a fan of Canadian news cutting away from Trudeau’s press conference to cover Trump, and muses about it in relation to future CBC policy.
Odds and ends:
Here’s a look at the battle to reform the Canada Food Guide, and make it less meat-and-dairy intensive.
The Invictus Games get started in Toronto this weekend, and Prince Harry is already on the ground.