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Senate committee recommends Beyak suspension over letters on Indigenous Peoples

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OTTAWA — The Senate’s ethics committee recommended Tuesday that Sen. Lynn Beyak be suspended without pay over incendiary letters about Indigenous Peoples she posted to her website.

The committee is also recommending Beyak attend educational programs at her own expense related to racism toward Indigenous people in Canada, have the Senate’s administration remove the five letters from her website if she won’t remove them herself, and make Beyak apologize to the upper chamber in writing.

The recommendations follow a March report from the Senate’s ethics officer, Pierre Legault, who found the Ontario senator breached two sections of a code of conduct for senators by posting racist letters on her Senate website.

The letters are part of an effort Beyak has made to promote the positive side of residential schools for Indigenous children.

The government-sponsored religious schools, which operated from the 19th century until 1996, were meant to assimilate Indigenous children into European-Canadian culture. In so doing, they deprived children of connections to their homes and families. Many were subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse, and several thousand died.

Legault found that while a senator is entitled to encourage historical debate, the letters of support she posted “are rife with stereotypical negative beliefs, assumptions and prejudices directed at (Indigenous people).” He said Beyak should take the letters down and apologize.

The ethics committee wrote that suspending Beyak without pay would help her “gain further perspective on the privilege of serving in Canada’s upper house.” Cutting off access to her Senate resources, including her office and expense account, would “foster a greater appreciation of those resources and the attendant expectations for their appropriate use,” the report said.

“It’s a reasonable report, it’s a reasonable set of recommendations and most senators are reasonable,” said Sen. Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that documented the legacy of the residential school system. “For the good of the Senate and reputation of this institution, I think we need to look carefully at what the committee recommended and go forward with that.”

Since Beyak posted the letters, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett has repeatedly urged Beyak to remove them.

“This is really important and we await the decision of the chamber,” Bennett said Tuesday. “They did an important piece of work and finding that those racist letters will have to come down.”

Beyak could not immediately be reached Tuesday. She was appointed as a Conservative but the party kicked her out of caucus more than a year ago over the letters.

Conservative Sen. Raynell Andreychuk, the committee chair, said the panel was troubled by Beyak’s failure to acknowledge the letters were racist and disturbed by her unwillingness to recognize the harm caused by posting them.

Beyak’s actions fell short of what were expected of a senator, she said in presenting the report to the Senate. As parliamentarians, senators hold a unique public office that requires them to confront racism without reservation to ensure the integrity of the institution, Andreychuk said.

“The Senate as a house of Parliament must defend the principle that all persons are equal in law and in dignity,” she said. “The suitability of a senator to remain in the legislature is linked to the recognition and respect of this principle.”

Further discussion was put on hold for another sitting day, but the upper chamber has shown a recent inclination to dispose of these matters quickly once they reach the floor of the Senate.

The last senator to face the wrath of the ethics committee to this degree was Don Meredith, who resigned in disgrace in May 2017 before the Senate was ready to vote on a recommendation that he be expelled from the upper chamber over an explosive ethics officer’s report about his sexual relationship with a teenage girl.

Any decision by the Senate would only be in effect until Parliament dissolves, which will happen by the fall with the official start of the election campaign. That was the case with three senators — Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin — who were suspended without pay in 2013 until the election call in the summer of 2015.

Andreychuk said Tuesday that if Beyak didn’t comply with the Senate’s wishes, senators returning after the election should address her refusal as a continued breach of the conflict-of-interest code.

—Follow @kkirkup on Twitter

Kristy Kirkup and Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


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Minority Government passes Bill C10 on internet freedom. Opponents pleading with Senate to block it.

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Bill C 10 which is expected to fundamentally affect how Canadians experience the internet, has been hammered through the House of Commons.  At 1:30 AM Ottawa time, the minority Liberal Government with help from the BQ and the NDP were able to pass the bill.  In opposition were the federal Conservatives and lone Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould.   The urgency to pass C 10 before an election call expected later this summer resulted in the Liberals actually shutting down debate at the committee level.  That’s only happened twice in the history of the country before now!  The Liberals also attempted to pass secret amendments which were caught by the Conservatives and ruled “out of order” by the House Speaker.

Why the rush?  Opponents are concerned the Liberals, BQ, and NDP are far more concerned with regulating social media use, than they are with boosting individual Canadians creating new content.  It appears the urgency has to do with giving themselves the ability to guide internet content, just in time for the federal election campaign.

OpenMedia.org, a group striving to keep the internet “open, affordable, and surveillance-free” calls the government’s bill “outrageously flawed”.  The group published an article called “What’s wrong with Bill C 10?”  which asks and answers 8 key questions surrounding C 10.  The article provides excellent background knowledge for Canadians concerned about the future of the internet.

OpenMedia says the goal of the bill is to expand “Canada’s Broadcasting Act to apply to all streaming audio or video content on the Internet, including Netflix, Spotify, Youtube, and other popular streaming services.”  Streaming services will be forced to make higher payments to the Canada Media Fund which would mean higher rates paid for Canadian users.  According to OpenMedia streaming services will charge higher Canadian specific fees, and may even avoid Canada altogether.

OpenMedia calls C 10 a “cash-grab for traditional broadcast industries” which actually does nothing to serve the new wave of content creators who could really use a boost on the international stage.  As a last ditch attempt to stop the bill, OpenMedia.org is urging Canadians to email the Senate right now to ask for a REAL democratic examination of Bill C-10.

Conservative critic Pierre Poilievre is especially concerned with the federal government giving itself the power to block unapproved ideas from popular content creators like himself, just in time for the next federal election. Surprisingly, and maybe most concerning of all, both OpenMedia and Pierre Poilievre point out the bill ‘DOESN’T ADDRESS WHAT CANADIAN CONTENT IS’.  The current definition of “Canadian Content” was last updated in 1984, more than a decade before the internet changed everything.

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Alberta

Loss of Brother to Addiction and Mental Illness Inspires Sister to Raise Money by Selling Face Masks.

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Starting June 10th, until midnight Sunday, June 13th customers across Canada can help raise funds for Mental Health Organizations in their own provinces by purchasing much needed luxury cotton face masks.

Jodee Prouse, from Sylvan Lake, Alberta, co-owner of Service Mask Supply (SMS) is the provider of one of Canada’s best-selling luxury 3-layer Cotton Face Masks. She announced today that they will be donating $1.00 from every mask purchase on June 10, 11, 12 and 13th to Mental Illness Programs and Organizations in communities across Canada. “We all look forward to when we no longer need to wear face masks,” says Jodee, “and we are getting really close. I am proud that we can provide a much-needed product and at the same time allow others the opportunity to come together to raise money for Mental Health in their own communities.”

SMS is excited to announce that for 4 days this week, $1.00 from every mask will be donated to different Mental Health Organizations across Canada. Customers can place their order online, each mask is $5.00, and will ship directly to their homes or businesses. Jodee is proud of her team and orders quickly ship the next business day, leaving from their warehouse in Alberta. All monies collected will go back into each province to where the order was shipped. As an example, Alberta portion will go back to Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta Division, Manitoba to Rainbow Resource Centre and so on. This allows every Canadian the opportunity to make a difference and take part.

From the beginning, SMS had an amazingly simple business model, originally supplying schools and oilfield companies: provide comfortable and affordable masks (each is only $5.00) with patterns that make people smile. Smile. It is what Jodee and her business partner son Ryan believes we need more of right now during these unprecedented times. “My son and I, at different times in our lives, have both struggled with anxiety and depression. We lost a much-loved member of our family when our brother/uncle lost his battle with mental illness and alcoholism when he took his own life in March of 2012. He was only 39. This helped solidify our commitment to helping to eliminate the shame and stigma surrounding mental health.”

Now more than ever we want to bring communities together. And remind people they are not alone.

SMS is proud to be celebrating over 17,000 customers across Canada this week. They know that much of their success has been driven by their passionate customers, repeat business and recommendations to family, friends, and co-workers. “It fills my heart to receive not only Facebook messages and emails daily on how much they love our masks,” says Jodee, “but also the heartfelt words where strangers feel comfortable and safe enough to share some of their own mental health or addiction challenges.”

SMS has over 150 unique colors and patterns with such unique designs as sunflowers, flamingo’s, tie dye, dog lover, pretty kitties, fishing lures, butterflies, hearts, breast cancer, yoga, fine wine, pride, cupcakes and many more. Great for work, play, indoors and outdoors too with sizes for the whole family.

Learn more visit: www.servicemasksupply.ca

For more information you can email [email protected]

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june, 2021

tue04may(may 4)4:57 pmwed30jun(jun 30)12:00 pmMove Your Mood Family Challenge (June)(may 4) 4:57 pm - (june 30) 12:00 pm

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