Gerry Byrne has apologized and retracted his comments on social media about the visit to Newfoundland and Labrador by actor Pamela Anderson and “The Simpsons” co-creator Sam Simon Tuesday.
Gerry Byrne. — Telegram file photo
Anderson and Simon came to the province to offer sealers $1 million to give up hunting the animals.
The two, and their entourage, did not receive a warm welcome and Byrne, the Liberal Commons member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, took to Twitter to lambaste them.
In two posts written by Byrne just minutes apart late Tuesday afternoon, the MP criticized Anderson for not donating the money to “sexually transmitted disease prevention education.”
Anderson disclosed years ago that she had contracted hepatitis C from her former husband, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee.
“A hasbeen ‘actor’ with an incurable STD and a guy dying of cancer throw down the gauntlet,” Byrne also tweeted. “Men of retirement age aren’t important.”
Simon has cancer and a member of his and Anderson’s entourage later said the seal hunt supporters who protested their publicity stunt in Newfoundland and Labrador were all of retirement age.
Byrne deleted the two posts he made on Twitter and has issued a letter of apology, which follows here in its entirety.
Statement of apology from Gerry Byrne
“As I listened to comments that were being made yesterday in St. John’s about the nature of the seal hunt and about those who conduct it made by people opposed to the hunt, frustration, disappointment and anger welled up in me.
“I truly regret, however, my reaction which I would describe as intemperate and unnecessary.
“To all whom I have offended in any way, including Ms. Anderson and Mr. Simon, I sincerely apologize and retract the statements I made on social media. Our strong differences regarding what I believe to be a humane and sustainable harvest of seals off the Canadian coastline and what others may see it as may remain but I apologize for stepping beyond that debate.
“Just as I remain committed to the notion that science and mutual respect should be the foundations of opinion about the seal harvest, the same commitment must be kept for those who suffer from the serious illness of Hepatitis C which affects so many including Ms. Anderson.
“Science brings better understanding and support. I understand from science that Hepatitis C is contracted by sexual activity only on relatively rare occasion. I understand that effective treatments are available that substantially improve the quality of life of all those afflicted. I understand that a cure, while not yet available, is being advanced very quickly. And with this knowledge, I should have assisted in fostering the proper context of this illness and reaffirmed that those who suffer from this affliction should not be stigmatized.
“Two wrongs do not make a right and, as I said within minutes of posting my initial comments, I retract and apologize to all including to the organizations and institutions that support those affected. I will be a stronger advocate for all those who bear this disease in the future.”
“A commercial activity and a serious illness are not the same and I don’t pretend them to be. But the way we might approach each other and how we gain understanding about each other’s circumstances might have certain similarities.
“For decades, sealers have been the ones who have insisted that science, and not unfounded opinion, be used to direct their activities and their harvest. It has always been their hope that science would be the instrument to guide public opinion about it. To bring the debate about the future of the seal harvest back from my intemperate comments to where it should be, I apologize.
“I do also ask for those who protest the hunt to consider that science is also at the core of the management of the harvest and can be helpful to everyone’s understanding of it. Panels of internationally renowned veterinarians and leading scientific scholars have reviewed and concluded the hunt to be humane and have had their recommendations taken most seriously.
“It should be acknowledged that sealers have asked for relentless oversight by independent enforcement officials to ensure humane and ethical harvesting methods are maintained. It is worth stating that government regulation is robust and that international observers are free to monitor the hunt each and every year. Much has been done to combat mis-information about the harvest but some have simply choose not to listen with an open mind.
“What I am pointing out here is in no way a qualifier to my apology to those who I may have offended with my earlier remarks. The opposite is true. I should have known better. Wrongs never make a right. And who should best be able to understand that principle and to act upon it than someone who has witnessed what has happened to something they value and wish to protect as I do.
“Being true to one’s self means being true to others. I made a mistake in judgment. I apologize to all offended. It is sincere and heartfelt.”
The Western Star