The head of Canada's largest Indigenous organization says the Senate ethics committee, which can recommend the expulsion of senators, should take a look at the actions of Senator Lynn Beyak, who was kicked out of the Conservative caucus this week over accusations of disseminating racism.
And a fellow senator says it is possible that the content of letters that Ms. Beyak posted on her parliamentary website constitutes a hate crime.
Ms. Beyak, from Northern Ontario, was told by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on Thursday that she is no longer welcome to sit in his caucus after she refused to take down "racist" letters that were among those supporting her defence of Indian residential schools where thousands of Indigenous children died and many more lived in deplorable and abusive conditions.
Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), said Friday there is no place for racism in Canada or in the Senate. Mr. Scheer has demonstrated "strong leadership" by removing Ms. Beyak from his caucus but more needs to be done, Mr. Bellegarde said.
"They do have an ethics committee of the Senate," the National Chief said, "and I believe, in regard to her attitude and her actions in terms of promoting racism and discrimination, she should be held to account from her fellow senators."
The ethics committee can recommend that senators who bring disrepute upon the institution be expelled.
Senator Lillian Dyck, the chair of the Senate committee on aboriginal people, which removed Ms. Beyak as a member earlier this year, said the threshold for charging someone under Canada's hate-speech laws is high. But, Ms. Dyck said, an independent body should take a look at the letters on Ms. Beyak's site to determine if the standard has been met.
"She has put statements in public that could potentially incite hatred against aboriginals," Ms. Dyck said, adding she looked at about 20 of the letters on Ms. Beyak's website "and I found about half a dozen that were, to me, frankly, offensive and racist."
Carolyn Bennett, the Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations, said former prime minister Stephen Harper gave Ms. Beyak a platform for sharing ill-informed and racist comments when he appointed her to the Senate in 2013.
"Although Senator Beyak has been finally removed from the Conservative caucus," Dr. Bennett said in a statement on Friday, "it is more than disappointing that her appointment by the Conservatives allows her to continue to use parliamentary resources to validate the views of those who refuse to accept the truth and propagate the misinformation and prejudice that continue to feed racism in our country."
Charlie Angus, the Indigenous affairs critic for the New Democrats, wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to use whatever tools he has at his disposal to address Ms. Beyak's ability to remain as a Canadian senator.
"She is using the resources of a Canadian government institution and her enormous power as a representative of the Canadian people," Mr. Angus said. "That's not acceptable and larger action needs to be taken to determine how this woman is able to sit in the Senate when she is clearly unfit for the position of being a representative of Canada."
Ms. Beyak did not respond to requests for comment.
The decision by Mr. Scheer and Conservative Senate Leader Larry Smith to remove the senator from caucus came after almost a year of controversy that began when she declared some good had come from Indigenous residential schools.
One of the letters Ms. Beyak posted to her website included comments about a First Nations culture "that will sit and wait until the government gives them stuff."
"Promoting this comment is offensive and unacceptable for a Conservative parliamentarian. To suggest that Indigenous Canadians are lazy compared to other Canadians, is simply racist," Mr. Scheer said in a statement.
He said he learned of the comment this week and demanded Ms. Beyak remove the content from her site, but she refused.
Privately, some Conservatives said Ms. Beyak may have wanted to get removed from caucus, so she would no longer be restricted by what she could say in public.
Conservative Senator David Tkachuk said he was "very disturbed" by some of the content on Ms. Beyak's website, which he said did not represent Conservative values.
"I know Lynn Beyak, I like her. She started a very interesting debate I thought, earlier on. And it's degenerated," he said.
"The leadership finally said, 'Look, it's not our policy, it's not what we stand for and we have to deal with it.' And that's what happened."
Mr. Tkachuk added that everybody has the right to say what they want, but "she has a privileged position, so therefore she has a greater responsibility."
"You should act in a way that befits that privilege," he said, "and if you abuse it, then maybe you should leave."