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Senator Lynn Beyak suspended for refusing to delete racist website posts

A picture of Senator Lynn Beyak accompanies other Senators official portraits on a display outside the Senate on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. The Senate's ethics committee is recommending that Sen. Beyak be suspended for the duration of the current Parliament with conditions including no remuneration or reimbursement of expenses from the upper chamber.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Senators have voted to suspend Lynn Beyak without pay from the Senate for refusing to delete racist letters about Indigenous people from her website.

The suspension applies only to the remainder of the current session of Parliament; she’ll be able to resume sitting as a senator when a new session begins following the Oct. 21 federal election.

However, if Beyak continues to refuse to comply with remedial measures recommended last month by the Senate’s ethics committee, the Senate could consider further action against her in future.

The committee recommended that Beyak complete, at her own expense, “educational programs related to racism” towards Indigenous people; apologize in writing to the Senate; and delete the offending letters from her website.

Beyak insists the letters – posted in response to a 2018 speech in which she argued that Indian residential schools did a lot of good for Indigenous children, although many suffered physical and sexual abuse – are not racist.

But the Senate’s ethics officer, Pierre Legault, concluded in March that five of the letters contained racist content, suggesting that Indigenous people are lazy, chronic whiners who are milking the residential-schools issue to get government handouts.

Beyak was appointed to the Senate in 2013 by former prime minister Stephen Harper. She was kicked out of the Conservative caucus last year over her refusal to remove the letters from her website.