Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Engage with Unpopular Viewpoints

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Engage with Unpopular Viewpoints

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Engage with unpopular viewpoints

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published March 18:

The calls continued this week for sanctions against Sen. Lynn Beyak in the wake of her ill-considered -- and, by every reasonable measure, insensitive -- comments last week about the positive aspects of Canada's residential school system.

Ms. Beyak, a member of the upper chamber since being appointed by then-prime minister Stephen Harper in 2013, made headlines and drew the ire of almost everyone when, during a speech related to a report on the disproportionately high number of indigenous women in Canadian prisons, she lamented that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission failed to "focus on the good" that was done in residential schools.

Despite the fact she was able to cite anecdotal evidence that a small percentage of indigenous people forced into the residential school system eventually reported positive educational outcomes, Ms. Beyak's remarks in the red chamber revealed a deep lack of understanding. In the aftermath, there were calls for her to resign her Senate seat, rejections of her comments by fellow Conservatives as "ill-informed, offensive and simply wrong," and comparisons made between Ms. Beyak's praiseful talk of residential schools' "good deeds" and the words of Holocaust deniers and Nazi sympathizers.

This week, the backlash continued with a call by the chairwoman of the Senate committee on aboriginal people for Ms. Beyak to reconsider her place on that committee and consider tendering her resignation. The concern, said Sen. Lillian Eva Dyck, is that Ms. Beyak's comments may have tarnished the reputation of the committee and could hurt its relationship with indigenous peoples.

Here are some questions worth considering: exactly what, in the necessary march toward reconciliation, would Ms. …

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