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Renowned winemaker apologies for ‘troubling’ behaviour

 

Norman Hardie

Following a Globe and Mail newspaper investigation published yesterday that reveals a ‘troubling picture’ of a renownd Canadian winemaker’s behaviour, Norman Hardie has issued a public apology.

“To all those who felt marginalized, demeaned or objectified while working for or alongside me, I am truly very sorry,” Hardie wrote in a letter posted to his Twitter account this afternoon. The 52-year-old owns Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard in Prince Edward County.

The Globe’s investigation included interviews with more than 50 people and some alleged gross misconduct inside and out of Hardie’s business – including unwanted sexual conduct, harassment and unprofessional behaviours.

No criminal charges have been laid in relation to the allegations.

The article states three women described unwanted sexual misconduct within instances of kissing or groping while they were working at the winery or at restaurant industry events. Eighteen additional people described behaviour that could be characterized as sexual harassment.

The article also referenced more than a dozen people who stated they have had nothing but positive experiences at the winery and thanked Hardie for his generosity and guidance.

In his letter posted via Twitter, Hardie stated he is “deeply ashamed” and “truly very sorry” noting that while some of the allegations in the Globe’s story are not true, “many are.”

“Reading the stories of these women and how my behaviour impacted them has made me deeply ashamed,” Hardie stated in his letter this afternoon. “To all those who felt marginalized, demeaned or objectified while working for or alongside me, I am truly very sorry.”

Hardie stated that behaviour and language he viewed at the time as harmless or good-natured was anything but, and says his position of power almost certainly explains why it took several years for anyone to confront him.

Following first contact from the Globe several months ago, Hardie said he hired an independent advisor to conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of the workplace and upon completion in April, learned the winery required enhancements in several areas, including an enforceable code of conduct.

“The independent review did not find any examples of sexual harassment in the workplace today… but there is still work to be done, particularly as it applies to me personally. I am absolutely committed to ensuring a safe, open, respectful, equal and inclusive work environment.”

Hardie concluded his letter with thanks to those who have supported, and continue to support him.

“I know it is not easy for you and that I have let a lot of you down,” he said. “To all of the women who were part of the winery and uncomfortable coming forward with these concerns I sincerely apologize. All I can promise is that I will work hard every day to earn back your trust in the days, months and years ahead.”

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