Unaffiliated Senator Lynn Beyak is preparing to go to war over her website on Monday. A motion had been moved in the Senate by Independent Senator Kim Pate to have Beyak’s website removed from Senate servers because of the letters that she posted on there, some of which have been deemed racist. Beyak is going to argue that if the motion passes, her privileges will be violated as it will impede her ability to do her job because she can’t inform her constituents about her work or to “address the concerns and opinions of all Canadians.”
For starters, I think Pate’s attempt to remove Beyak’s site is a bit of a stretch, given that Beyak isn’t posting anything that rises to the level of criminal hate speech (despite what her critics may say). The Senate places a great deal of value on free speech, most especially for its members, so it will be very difficult for them to make the case that Beyak should be denied it because she holds some objectionable views. Gods know that there have been plenty of abhorrent views expressed by other senators in the past about other minorities (thinking in particular about one senator’s views about the LGBT community), and she was not censured by the Chamber in any way. While there are different players in the Senate currently and this is the “era of reconciliation,” I still think that there is an uphill battle to take down Beyak’s site.
The other thing is that it would take very little effort for Beyak to port her website onto a different server, and just have a link from her Senate bio page, as many other senators have done, where there is simply a disclaimer next to it saying that it’s not an official Senate site. In other words, Pate’s measures are pretty much symbolic only, which may be fine on the surface, but won’t actually addess the real issues with Beyak’s views, or her promotion of views that are objectionable. Is this a battle worth having? I guess we’ll see.
- Justin Trudeau met with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, and they talked terrorism, but not Jaspal Atwal.
- Trudeau promises he’ll have a conversation with MP Randeep Sarai about the Jaspal Atwal invitation sometime next week.
- Apparently concerned citizens were talking to CSIS about Atwal earlier this month, and the radio station he claims to work on behalf of says he doesn’t.
- The Conservatives are demanding an emergency public safety committee to look into PCO vetting, and so that they can perform some outrage over Atwal.
- Today in budget leaks, we’re hearing about proactive pay equity provisions, and that it will contain $50 million over five years to support local journalism.
- Bill Morneau unveiled his budget shoes, which were pretty much a rerun of last year’s, and then took questions from a group of schoolchildren.
- The government has moved to suspend ongoing litigation regarding harassment in the Canadian Forces and will try to reach an out-of-court settlement.
- The government says they’ll be removing provisions that deny someone access to a military pension benefits if they marry a veteran over the age of 60.
- Manitoba has now signed onto the climate change deal, which leaves Saskatchewan as the lone holdout.
- Jagmeet Singh is now officially married.
- John Ivison worries about the state of political vetting (though one could say that this is yet more incompetence by this government).
- My weekend column looks at the recently announced changes to the Senate appointment process, and how it doesn’t fix the underlying problems.
Odds and ends:
Former Somali child refugee Abdoul Abdi lost his case at the Federal Court to halt deportation proceedings.
I was on 1310 News earlier this week talking about my Maclean’s piece, and here’s my conversation with Mark Sutcliffe.