Newspaper article The Canadian Press

As Leader, Wouldn't Ask Beyak to Quit Senate over 'Unfortunate' Remarks: O'Leary

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

As Leader, Wouldn't Ask Beyak to Quit Senate over 'Unfortunate' Remarks: O'Leary

Article excerpt

O'Leary wouldn't ask Beyak to quit Senate


OTTAWA - One of the perceived front-runners in the Conservative leadership race is calling Sen. Lynn Beyak's comments about residential schools "unfortunate" -- but Kevin O'Leary is stopping short of saying he'd kick her out of caucus.

In a roundtable interview Thursday with The Canadian Press, O'Leary said he assumes Beyak is a good person, and that if he were the party's leader he would sit her down to discuss a situation he called "very embarrassing."

But the businessman and reality-TV star -- whose leadership campaign has been predicated, in part, on his reputation as an Ottawa outsider -- at first appeared to know little about Beyak or indeed the history of Canada's residential schools.

"I don't agree (with Beyak)," he said, eventually.

"There's nothing good about that situation. I can't change the past, I would never want that to happen again so we've got to look at that. Clearly, that comment was unfortunate."

It took O'Leary a while to get there, however.

Beyak has been making national headlines for weeks after a speech in the Senate that said some good had come out of the government-funded, church-operated schools, which operated from the 1870s to 1996 and subjected generations of indigenous children to sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

Indigenous leaders, fellow senators and selected MPs have been clamouring for her resignation ever since.

But the question initially appeared lost on O'Leary, who at one point even seemed to agree with the senator:"There probably are good people," he said.

When the question was rephrased, he seemed to confuse the issue with the long-standing debate about how best to finance First Nations education.

"That's the First Nations issue ... That is part of a much bigger dialogue than just the schools because what I hear from those leaders now is they want to participate in a full economic overhaul," he said. …

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