A Norwegian wilderness tourism company facing allegations of religious discrimination under B.C.'s Human Rights Code by a graduate of B.C.'s Christian university says the Trinity Western grad was eminently unqualified for the position for which she applied.
In a CBC News exclusive story published Tuesday, Bethany Paquette says she was "attacked" over her religion and rejected for being Christian after applying to work in Canada's North for Amaruk Wilderness Corp.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the company rejected this claim, stating, "We regret that Bethany Paquette was [em]inently unqualified for an assistant guide internship position with our company.
"We strive to make applicants aware of the minimum requirements for each position," the statement continues.
"This includes, but is not limited to, clearly highlighting such requirements in red bold characters on our website, as well as emphasizing, on multiple occasions and at different stages, the absolute need to meet all minimum requirements of a position prior to applying.
"Unfortunately, Bethany Paquette applied for a position when she knew, or ought to know, that she was unqualified for the position, did not meet the minimum requirements of the position, and did not hold the necessary certifications for the position."
Trinity Western covenant at heart of controversy
The firm's latest statement comes only a day after CBC published Paquette's story, which has since attracted media attention from around the world.
Paquette, who applied for the job based on her experience as a river rafting guide, says she was shocked when she read the rejection email from Olaf Amundsen, the company's hiring manager.
Amundsen wrote that she wasn't qualified and "unlike Trinity Western University, we embrace diversity, and the right of people to sleep with or marry whoever they want."
Trinity Western is the Christian university in Langley, B.C., where Paquette earned her biology degree.
All students must agree to a covenant prohibiting sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage, under pain of possible expulsion, which has led to controversy over the university's new law school.
Email chain prompts human rights complaint
A chain of emails then followed, in which Amundsen claimed Christianity had destroyed the Norse culture, tradition and way of life, and Paquette attempted to defend her faith and point out the firm's alleged discrimination.
In turn, Amundsen explained that due to their stance on same-sex relationships, graduates from Trinity Western are not welcome at the company, and then used an expletive to state that if he met God, he would have sex with him.
At one point, co-CEO Christopher Fragassi-Bjørnsen joined the email chain to say they believed homosexuality was the best case scenario for a man, and referred to a heterosexual marriage to any B.C. woman as "emasculating."
Paquette has since retained a lawyer to take her case to B.C.'s Human Rights Tribunal.
Company says emails 'a mere expression of opinion'
CBC requested an interview with Amaruk Wilderness Corp., ahead of publication of the original story.
Amundsen responded in an email saying Paquette's job application was rejected "solely based on the fact that she did not meet the minimum requirements of the position."
"Any further discussion after that, including the fact that we strongly disagree with the position that gay people should not be allowed to marry or even engage in sexual relationships, would have been a mere expression of opinion."
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