Email sparks outrage from womens groups

An allegedly racist, sexist e-mail involving a senior government official may cause government employees to think twice before hitting the send button.

Michael Hurst, a general manager with Industry Canada in Yellowknife, N.T., is reported to have sent out 31 e-mails from his office that contained four naked women, one of whom was an older Aboriginal woman exposing her breasts. The attached message in the e-mail was “pick Miss Northwest Territories.”

Two women’s groups, the Status of Women Council of the NWT and the Native Women’s Association of the NWT, have contacted Industry Minister Maxime Bernier requesting that Hurst be fired.

While the incident is currently under investigation, Industry Canada is not permitted to discuss specific details under the Privacy Act, according to spokesperson Andrew Hannan.

Hannan says the government and department have policies regarding the use of the Internet in the workplace.

Their Internet usage policy states: “At Industry Canada we are committed to doing business in a way that demonstrates respect for the individual, and provides a stimulating, positive work environment…we have taken this approach to heart in developing IC guidelines on the use of the Internet.”

It also stipulates that “non-compliance with the Internet Usage Policy in this statement will be treated as a serious matter.”

“An internal investigation of this matter is currently underway to gather all the facts, and appropriate action will be taken once the investigation has been concluded,” says Hannan.

Read this feature article to stay out of e-mail jail

Read InterGovWorld’s Q&A with Industry Minister Maxime Bernier

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