If the Conservatives are committed to First Nations reconciliation, they need to show the door to a senator who's urging Indigenous Peoples to "trade your status card" and practice their culture on their own dime, says a prominent Liberal cabinet minister.
Carolyn Bennett, the government's Crown-Indigenous relations minister, made the comments about Conservative Sen. Lynn Beyak during the daily question period Tuesday in response to a question from a Liberal back bench.
"The senator's ongoing, offensive comments regarding Indigenous people are ill-informed, hurtful, and simply wrong," Bennett said.
"These disturbing views expressed by a sitting parliamentarian undermine progress toward reconciliation."
Beyak no longer has a role in the Conservative caucus, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said earlier this week, but he stopped short of forcing her out, urging her to do so herself if she doesn't endorse his policy of positivity and inclusiveness.
He said he didn't agree with her comments and that she didn't speak for the party or the caucus.
Beyak rose to notoriety in the spring by saying there were positives that came out of Canada's residential school system which were ignored by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Those comments ultimately prompted Scheer's predecessor, former interim leader Rona Ambrose, to remove her from the Senate's aboriginal affairs committee.
Beyak landed in hot water again this month when she posted a letter on her Senate website saying she had received tons of support for her position on residential schools over the summer, and that it was time for a major change.
"Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties, and move forward together just like the leaders already do in Ottawa," she wrote.
"All Canadians are then free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime."
First Nations people are already Canadian citizens.
Beyak's letter said she was paraphrasing from the 1969 white paper by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and then-indian affairs minister Jean Chretien, which called for abolishing the Indian Act and assimilating all Aboriginal Peoples.
Calls for Beyak's ouster are a form of censorship, Conservative MP Tony Clement said after question period.
"I'm going to disagree with her, for sure, but I think we should be beyond the stage where we are shaming people into silence by those kinds of activities," he said.
"I think the best thing to do is disagree with someone with facts and evidence. That's the best way to deal with this."
Beyak's letter prompted the mayors of both Winnipeg and Edmonton to call on her to resign her Senate seat.
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas added his name to the list of people who want Beyak out of the upper chamber, calling her comments "blatantly ignorant and outright offensive" — especially from a senator.