Thursday January 11, 2018
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday January 11, 2018
Sen. Lynn Beyak’s views might be ‘typical’ but that doesn’t make them right
It’s sad to note that newly independent Senator Lynn Beyak is pretty much your typical Canadian. She comes off as well-intentioned and hard-working — the type of person you expect to see cheering in bleachers at small-town hockey rinks while holding a Tim Hortons coffee cup. I think of her when I think of the people Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred to with his “old-stock Canadians” quip last election campaign.
But I say “sadly” of her typical-ness because Beyak, who Conservative leader Andrew Scheer removed from the Conservative caucus last week after she refused to take down offensive letters from her Senate website, is just like a great number of Canadians who are genuinely unable to see how their views are harmful. (For the record, in a statement Monday, Beyak said no one from Scheer’s office spoke with her or her staff about taking down the letters.) Instead, these Canadians still seem to believe in that mythical free pass to which many white people — and I am a white settler myself — try to clutch: that of good intentions.
As long as we have good intentions, many of us believe, there is no need to apologize, and no need to grapple with the weight of ugly words such as “prejudice” and “racism.”
But just because a view is typical doesn’t make it right.
The Beyak saga might have only reached a breaking point now, but it has been brewing for many months, starting way back in March of last year, when Beyak said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings of systemic racism against Indigenous peoples in Canada ignored the “well-intentioned” actions of instructors at residential schools.
“Mistakes were made at residential schools,” she said at the time, “in many instances, horrible mistakes that overshadowed some good things that also happened at those schools.” (Source: CBC News)