Sensitivity training proposed for email prankster

Michael Hurst, the Industry Canada employee at the centre of an e-mail controversy in Yellowknife, may get to keep his government job for the price of 75 hours’ community service.

Hurst, a general manager with Industry Canada, is reported to have sent out 31 allegedly racist, sexist e-mails from his office. The e-mail messages are said to have depicted images of 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 (SWC) and the Native Women’s Association of the NWT, contacted Industry Minister Maxime Bernier requesting that Hurst be fired.

Sharon Thomas, executive director of SWC, says she has been assured Hurst will face disciplinary action, but added she was prepared to support a more positive road to reconciliation.

According to Thomas, a senior executive at Industry Canada in Edmonton has proposed Hurst perform 75 hours of community service with three women’s groups in the Northwest Territories.

“Industry Canada has decided they’re going to take some disciplinary action and what they’re going to propose is that Michael work 75 hours of volunteer time with the three women’s groups,” says Thomas.

“It was proposed to me that he do a project on discrimination and my immediate thought was that this might be a good project for Michael, since he would be investigating what discrimination is all about. That sounded like a pretty okay plan, I would welcome that.”

Thomas added she would want to see Hurst’s volunteer work geared towards sensitivity training. “To have a man lead that [type of project] would be really good; it would be more effective.”

She added: “Of course, when we [first] saw the e-mail it was just shocking. But when you see the bigger picture of who they are as a person, we don’t want to make a scapegoat out of [Hurst] because it’s not an isolated incident. It’s a fairly common thing with the federal government, with everybody.

“I don’t want him to lose a job,” says Thomas. “It’s a small place here – we need healing, we don’t need more hurt.”

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

Related content:

Email sparks outrage from womens groups

Reaction from women in the North

What was he thinking?

Should Michael Hurst be dismissed?

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Featured Articles

Empowering the hybrid workforce: how technology can build a better employee experience

Across the country, employees from organizations of all sizes expect flexibility...

What’s behind the best customer experience: How to make it real for your business

The best customer experience – the kind that builds businesses and...

Overcoming the obstacles to optimized operations

Network-driven optimization is a top priority for many Canadian business leaders...

Thriving amid Canada’s tech talent shortage

With today’s tight labour market, rising customer demands, fast-evolving cyber threats...

Staying protected and compliant in an evolving IT landscape

Canadian businesses have changed remarkably and quickly over the last few...

Related Tech News

Tech Jobs

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.

Tech Companies Hiring Right Now