Given the embarrassment she has caused both the institution and her party, it was a markedly long time coming. But several weeks ago, Senator Lynn Beyak, a Stephen Harper appointee, was booted from the Conservative caucus after refusing to take down the 100 or so letters she has been busily posting to her Senate website since last June. These letters claim to be from supporters of Beyak’s longstanding, publicly held position that residential schools were not such a bad idea—and it should surprise no one that many of the letters in favour of the idea that a long-running government program of taking Indigenous children from their homes with the express purpose of “taking the Indian out of the child,” as Sir John A. MacDonald put it at the time, are extravagantly racist. If one is hell-bent on supporting an inherently racist position and the facts really can’t help you, posting letters is certainly one way to go about it.
That these letters—which condemned Indigenous people as being “nowhere,” having a “constant backward-looking mentality,” being “well schooled in getting media pity” and being guilty of “chronic whining”—were posted on a government-funded website was, of course, appalling. That they were posted by a woman who only this past summer said that “all Canadians” should be “free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime,” is almost comical.
It’s not as if Beyak had secured TheBrightSideOfChildSnatching.com at her own expense for the purpose of preserving the wisdom of “Paul” who, apparently, wrote to her to say, “I’m no anthropologist but it seems every opportunistic culture, subsistence hunter/gatherers seeks to get what they can for no effort. There is always a clash between industrial/organized farming culture that values effort as opposed to a culture that will sit and wait until the government gives them stuff.”
As of now, this and many similar letters are still being hosted at the government’s expense, as is, of course, Beyak herself. And although she was removed from all Senate committees back in September and has now been cut loose from the Andrew Scheer ship entirely, Beyak will likely be kicking around the Senate halls for a long time to come.
Senators don’t get fired, after all; they get to stick around until they’re 75. But from now on Beyak is, for all intents and purposes and committees, a vestigial member of the upper house. It’s perhaps best to think of Beyak as a giant ambulatory coccyx; once believed to provide balance, we have evolved beyond her.
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Many have been wondering: what will she do now, with all that free-at-our-expense time? Well, through surprising circumstances, I can answer that question. It appears that the same bizarre temporal anomaly that delayed her removal from the Conservative caucus until long, long after she had expressed her abhorrent and ill-informed views on Indigenous people—and, it bears mentioning, the LGBTQ community—is also affecting my laptop. Browsing through iTunes the other day, I came across a page of reviews for Lynn Beyak’s future podcasts, a feed that stops updating in 2024, the year she is scheduled to retire.
The page makes it clear that Beyak ends up with a lot of time on her hands in the next six years; while most of her podcast series don’t run for more than a few episodes, she sure attempts a lot of them. The listener comments provide some insight into the workings of her mind. I have posted some their reviews below:
Three Stars: ★★★
Lynn-gering In History Class: “I started with the episode on life of Louis the Sun King and I have some concerns that the collected letters of ‘Brandon’ may not actually be a primary source. I also have some doubts that in 17th-century France it was considered ‘perfectly normal’ for the state to take children from their homes and use them in crude medical experiments. Edit: After listening to more episodes of Lynn-gering In History Class I learned that this was also the case in 16th-century Sweden, 18th-century Scotland, and many other places. I look forward to finding out more about this vast period of history that Lynn, citing ‘Dougie who I spoke to at the mall,’ refers to as ‘back then,’ a time when “that’s just the way things were.’ ”
One Star: ★
Knit One, Beyak One: “I was excited to discover Knit One, Beyak One. I thought that a sitting Canadian senator might have a unique perspective on the art of knitting but I was alarmed by her suggestion in episode two (‘Needles of Novices’) that maybe if I didn’t already know how to knit I probably couldn’t be trusted to raise my children and should really consider the benefits of having them taken away, forbidden from using the names I gave them or speaking their own language and being possibly starved to death in the care of professional knitters.”
Two Stars: ★★
Lynn-gering In History Class: “I just want to address one issue I had with episode 12, ‘(Sponge) Bath of the Khans’: at 5:44, Lynn quotes the ancient Chinese diarist ‘Mike from Collingwood’ as writing, ‘A lot of ink has been spilled over all the blood spilled by Genghis Khan and his hordes, but the value of Giant Pile of the Great Khan’s Enemies’ Skulls Outside the City Gates as a public art project never gets talked about. Also, nobody ever considers the hard-working horde members who had to stack those skulls, possibly throwing out their backs in the process. Some of their children could be here today.’
“I have to say I’m skeptical about this point: a human head isn’t that heavy. So long as the horde members were careful to bend at the knee and not just flop over at the waist when stacking the skulls, they shouldn’t have had to worry about hurting their backs.”
Five Stars: ★★★★★
Cookin’ in the Red Chamber Where No One Will Eat Lunch With Me: “A+ cooking advice. I never imagined making a roquefort soufflé could be this easy. I was a bit confused about Lynn’s instruction that I heat my oven to 375 degrees, place my soufflé on the centre rack, then loudly yell into my open oven, ‘Andrew Scheer never called me and told me to take the letters down! He’s so inexperienced he probably doesn’t even know how to use a phone! The Canadian people will not be silenced, even with a mouth full of soufflé!’ My soufflé came out of the oven as dense as someone who read the Truth and Reconciliation Report and concluded the real victims were the under-appreciated school staff, but it was a huge hit with the family once my husband had hit it with a rolling pin while talking about the inherent shiftlessness of ‘hunter-gatherer societies.’ Planning to have an ‘I’m No Anthropologist, But…’ dinner night every week!”
Four Stars: ★★★★
Bey-yakking About Books: “Loved the whole Tolkien series, Lynn, all 627 episodes. Re: episode #57, I was really happy to hear someone saying what so many everyday people had been thinking: What the Men of Lake-town really need to do is stop insisting on living on a lake where there are no job opportunities and integrate into Lonely Mountain society. Even if the dragon’s ire, more fierce than fire, did lay low their towers and houses frail, that was generations ago; everyone was a giant fire-breathing lizard back then, and there’s no reason to believe a dragon would burn down their homes and devour them alive and screaming now.
“I was particularly glad to hear her read a letter from ‘Bolg, from a hole in the ground’ taking a stand against PC culture that won’t even let you name a school after a man-eating spawn of Morgoth anymore.”
Four Stars: ★★★★
CinemaBeyak: “Loved Lynn’s no-nonsense take on the movies. Agree that Taken should have gone in a different direction. Finally: someone with the courage to ask whether Liam Neeson’s ‘very particular set of skills’ were really what the situation called for—talk about a helicopter parent. And YES! to ‘Spotlight failed to show both sides.’ “