MP Byrne apologizes for Twitter postings about Pamela Anderson

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Gary Kean
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Gerry Byrne

CORNER BROOK  Gerry Byrne has apologized and has 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.

Anderson and Simon, representing the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization, 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, he 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 that 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 follow 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.”

 

 

Organizations: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization, Liberal Commons, Motley Crue

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Donna Browning-Perkins
    December 19, 2013 - 21:10

    Really ???!!! In this day and age of frequently "anti" social media; Mr Byrne has fallen into the trap of activating speech before engaging brain. Society is so much poorer for the proliferation of outlets where anyone can express any opinion - anywhere-anytime - to the detriment of any moral code. Good Luck Mr. Byrne.

  • Roy Whalen
    December 19, 2013 - 14:57

    We are so lucky here in Deer Lake to have a Classy Guy like Gerry Byrne as our honorable member. Congratulations, you have just created a new low for a politician

  • John Hickey
    December 19, 2013 - 08:04

    Though I agree, in principle, to what everyone is saying about Gerry's comments being a tad inappropriate and personal, he was very angry about the continued interference from PETA, Greenpeace and the WWF over our longtime practice of culling seals.. Most Newfoundlanders are in accordance with the continuation of the hunt and are unhappy with outside interference and justifiably so.. Many folks are simply sick to death of these activist groups and their "against the grain" style protests.. Mr. Byrne's reaction was tame as compared to that of the many islanders that depend on the harvest for sustainence.. The fact that these rabble rousers can waltz into our province and create havoc is a question that needs answering.. If I were the premier, I'd simply make a law banning them from coming here at all and arresting and jailing them if they ignore the law.. Keep fighting the good fight Gerry, but please don't lose your credibility by launching personal and public attacks.. It nullifies your position..

  • Don't STI Shame
    December 19, 2013 - 07:48

    I don't think it's appropriate for the Western Star to report, "Anderson disclosed years ago that she had contracted hepatitis C from her former husband, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee." in an article about an MP that shames those with STIs. Every other news outlet in Canada has made clear that Anderson's Hep C was contracted from her husband's *tattoo needle*, thus making Byrne's comments seem both mean *and* unfounded. Also, as for Byrne: the science behind contracting STIs isn't the issue here - STI shaming is. If she had something that wasn't, "contracted by sexual activity only on relatively rare occasion" (like HIV) would your opinion be different? Your apology misses the point. Shaming people who have STIs is cruel and damaging to public health.

  • WHAT?
    December 19, 2013 - 07:18

    You just committed political suicide, Mr. Byrne. No amount of apologizing is going to redeem you after making those comments. I agree with Lorraine - everyone has a right to their opinion without a lashing like you heaped upon those people. Hmmm ... how does that comment go about defending to the death one's right to speak? I thought the stigma of having cancer had been conquered. I am a breast cancer survivor & am now dealing with leukemia - along with other illnesses. You might do well, Mr. Byrne, to devote some of your idle time to volunteering in helping the already health challenged folk & learn to hold your tongue.

  • Skeptical Cynic
    December 18, 2013 - 20:46

    You bloody fool.

  • Mr Corner Brook
    December 18, 2013 - 20:01

    And there you have it folks! Gerry Byrne showing his TRUE colours!!!

  • max
    December 18, 2013 - 19:47

    What, Gerry Byrne shooting off mouth! Who'd have thunk it!!?? Btw, Pamela Anderson and Sam Simon and of course PETA , got more than they bargained for. They expected a million dollars worth of publicity but thanks to the pliable press corps in St. John's, they garnered a whole lot more. I bet you dollars to doughnuts they were laughing all the way to PETA headquarters while many Newfoundlanders were congratulating themselves with "'I bet we showed them." To someone in Hollywood such as that paragon of virtue, Pam Anderson, any publicity is good publicity. We just could not ignore them could we?

  • George
    December 18, 2013 - 17:10

    I have to agree with all three comments, Gerry Byrne isn't anything more then a wind bag, just like to hear himself talk.

  • Pat
    December 18, 2013 - 14:02

    Usually what comes through the lips comes from the heart.

  • Lorraine
    December 18, 2013 - 10:36

    I won't be mean here. I will not lower myself to your standards Mr. Byrne. But I do have to say a few things about your statement. I am not a fan of Pamela Anderson. However, she is doing something she firmly believes in, and I support her commitment to her beliefs. Such a personal attack on someone is just plain wrong, and for your apology, it is too late. Words can never be retracted, and they cut like a knife. Sam Simon is dying because of a horrible disease. A disease I might add that has taken my beloved brother from our family and from his beautiful wife and young children. My brother died October 28. 24 days after being diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Why do you have to, in your holier than thou tweeting, how I hate that, why do you have to demean either person? Hepatitis C and Cancer are nothing that anyone would ever want. Agree with them or not, they are both humans. Their beliefs are different from yours perhaps, but you are low in even commenting on their illnesses. And as for Pamela being a has been actress, well like I said, not a fan of hers, but what have you done Mr. Byrne? Other than be a wind blowing politician. One I am glad I never voted for.

  • Jerry
    December 18, 2013 - 10:10

    This guy do anything to get his picture in the paper.