WINNIPEG - Mayor Sam Katz says he believes Winnipeg Centre MP Pat Martin may wake up one morning and regret the comments he made about Youth For Christ, the organization planning to build a youth centre at the northwest corner of Higgins Avenue and Main Street.
In today’s Free Press, the NDP MP criticized the city’s plan to contribute $2.6 million toward an $11.7 million youth centre. Ottawa may also contribute to the project.
Martin said the project should not receive any public funds, as he believes Youth For Christ tries to convert "vulnerable, impressionable kids" to what he described as fundamentalist Christian views.
"I have no objection to faith-based organizations providing services. Sally Ann (the Salvation Army) and others have been doing a great job for years. But these people are evangelical fundamentalists," Martin said. "Offering much-needed sports opportunities is just their way of luring in young prospects."
Martin said he personally opposes federal funding for the project and hopes the Conservative government does as well. "Would the federal government be so willing to give them $3 million if they were called Youth for Allah?" he quipped.
Speaking to reporters outside his office, Katz said he can not speak on behalf of Martin but does believe the MP may regret his statements.
The mayor said the city is happy to fund a variety of religious organizations who have stepped up to conduct social services.
Katz, who reminded reporters he is Jewish, said he does not believe Youth For Christ is out to convert youths into Christians.