Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, along with his Senate caucus leader, Senator Larry Smith, announced last night that troublesome Senator Lynn Beyak had been kicked out of caucus after she refused to remove blatantly racist “letters of support” from her website. In true Scheer form, he not only didn’t effectively manage the situation, but waited until there was a media storm before he backed down, just as he did with deciding not to give any more interviews to Rebel Media post-Charlottesville, or having to back down somewhat on his campus free-speech zealotry in the wake of another incident (though he did get back on that bandwagon again after the whole Lindsay Sheppard incident).
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) January 5, 2018
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) January 5, 2018
Lightning reflexes. https://t.co/R0NQL3vFoC
— Paul Wells (@InklessPW) January 5, 2018
While this move was met with a number of people saying “better late than never,” I’m not so sure. In fact, I think that he’s just created a monster now that Beyak no longer has any kind of adult supervision. Indeed, I suspect that he’s just made a martyr out of Beyak, who can now claim that she’s a victim of “political correctness run amok,” and she will quickly attract a group of odious racists and free speech absolutists, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that she’ll be yet another Jordan Peterson-like figure (though likely without the need for the Patreon account, given her Senate tenure).
But that Senate tenure is exactly why this situation should have been better managed, and why expelling her from caucus was possibly the wrong thing to do. At least inside of caucus, she could have been managed, and if they had been on the ball, they should have had a better handle on what she was posting to her website and had it locked down long before now, using whatever means of coercion are available to party and Senate caucus leadership. After all, taking her off of committees didn’t seem to do the trick, but I’m not sure what kinds of measures they were using to manage her once that happened, if any. And that’s key, because as someone who has institutional independence and can’t be fired, managing her was the best possible thing that they could have done rather than letting her continue to court racists. (This being said, the fact that she was viewed as a Pollyanna figure by some of her fellows was probably why they didn’t think they needed to manage her as closely, and look what happened as a result).
Beyak is likely to continue to sit as a non-affiliated Senator, as we can be assured that the Independent Senators Group will want nothing to do with her, especially as they have a new rule that means that they need to have a two-thirds vote to admit her into their caucus. While people will howl for her to resign, I sincerely doubt that she will, given that she’ll have a new crowd of adherents that will flock to her now. She can’t be expelled from the Senate unless she’s convicted of a serious crime or is found to be in violation of Senate ethics rules, and there’s nothing to suggest that she would be (not to mention that there will be great reluctance to push her out for what she’s said, no matter how odious it may be, because free speech is greatly valued in the Senate). Trying to have her charged with hate crimes isn’t likey to work as I doubt she meets the bar for that, and dragging her before the Human Rights Tribunal will make her an even bigger martyr with the free speech absolutists. And so now we’ll be stuck with her until February 2024, because the party leadership couldn’t figure out how to properly manage a problem like her. Well done, guys.
- The latest review of the country’s Witness Protection Program shows problems with how the RCMP are handling it, including contacting witnesses inappropriately.
- Here’s a look at what the Canadian Forces are considering for their next moves in Iraq, which could mean counter-insurgency or reconstruction.
- The Canadian Forces, meanwhile, have finally reversed their recruitment decline, but are still thousands of personnel short of where they should be.
- Focus testing showed that some people thought the forthcoming new Canada Food Guide was encouraging vegetarianism.
- Correspondence shows that confusion around the suspected sonic attacks at the embassy in Havana had officials wondering if they weren’t psychosomatic.
- American moves to crack down on their domestic pot industry could be a boon for the burgeoning Canadian market.
- Stephen Harper is preparing to turn his papers over to Library and Archives, and will get a substantial tax credit as a result.
- Brad Wall says he’s “done with politics.” We’ll see how long it lasts if Andrew Scheer’s leadership continues to fail to gain any traction.
- Here is a lengthy interview with AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde on why he thinks he deserves another three-year term.
- Robert Hiltz makes his predictions for the year ahead.
Odds and ends:
Rare colour footage of the 1939 Royal Tour in Winnipeg has surfaced.