Andrew Scheer has kicked Senator Lynn Beyak out of caucus after she refused to take down a letter posted to her website that the Conservative Leader called "simply racist."
Mr. Scheer, along with Conservative Senate Leader Larry Smith, announced the decision to remove the Ontario senator from caucus on Thursday night, after almost a year of controversy that began when she declared "some good" had come from Indigenous residential schools.
The final straw came after Ms. Beyak posted about 100 letters to her website in support of her position. One letter included comments about a 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. He and Mr. Smith then decided to remove her from caucus. "Racism will not be tolerated in the Conservative Caucus or Conservative Party of Canada," Mr. Scheer said. In a statement, Mr. Smith said he made the decision with his fellow senators and Mr. Scheer. "As an internal party issue, I consider [the] matter closed," he wrote.
Ms. Beyak, who was appointed by Stephen Harper in 2013, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night. She will stay in the Senate as an independent.
Last March, Ms. Beyak set off criticism when she told the Senate she believed residential schools were not all bad and criticized the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
"I speak partly for the record, but mostly in memory of the kindly and well-intentioned men and women and their descendants – perhaps some of us here in this chamber – whose remarkable works, good deeds and historical tales in the residential schools go unacknowledged for the most part and are overshadowed by negative reports," she said at the time.
Ms. Beyak was removed from the Senate committee on aboriginal peoples last April, but remained in caucus. She previously said the sanction amounts to a threat to freedom of speech and said the silent majority supports her.
Ms. Beyak later said First Nations should give up their status cards and become Canadian citizens.
Mr. Scheer has previously condemned her comments, but chose not to remove her from caucus.
- With a report from The Canadian Press