Hydro One is firing a Sunshine List employee involved in a vulgar incident with a CityNews reporter at Sunday’s Toronto FC game.
“Regarding the incident at the Toronto FC game between a (CityNews) reporter and fans, Hydro One is taking steps to terminate the employee involved for violating our Code of Conduct,” said Daffyd Roderick, director, corporate affairs for Hydro One.
“Respect for all people is engrained in the Code of Conduct and in our Core Values and we are committed to a work environment where discrimination or harassment of any type is met with zero tolerance.”
Roderick identified the employee as Shawn Simoes, an assistant network management engineer who made $106,510.50 a year.
Earlier today, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment said the Toronto FC fans involved in the incident will be banned for “at least” a year.
CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt confronted several men on Sunday while she was outside of a Toronto FC game. While recording a standup for her report, a number of men shouted the phrase “F— her right in the p----!”
The camera kept rolling as video shows she confronted some of the men who had shouted at her, as well as a group of men standing behind her waiting for their chance to do the same.
Simoes, the employee being fired by Hydro One, did not shout the previously mentioned phrase, but did speak to Hunt on camera after the incident occured. “It is f—ing hilarious,” he told the reporter.
“We’re appalled that this trend of disrespectful behaviour would make its way to our city, let alone anywhere near our stadium,” MLSE said in a statement. “We are working to identify the individuals, and when we do they will be banned from all of our facilities.”
The disturbing trend of shouting a vulgar phrase into a journalist’s microphone – typically a female journalist, often while she is live on air – has happened to reporters in various cities across North America.
“Moving forward, we will also work with our local television outlets to provide extra security support to female reporters doing live hits at any of our games,” continued MLSE’s statement.
“Our organization is committed to an environment where everyone can feel safe and included and discrimination or intolerance of any kind will be met with a swift and serious response. We’re thankful to our vast majority of fans for standing up against such sexist behaviour and working with us to help prevent it in the future.”
Growing visibly frustrated, Hunt eventually confronted some of the men after they shouted at her.
“Can I ask why you would want to say something like that?” she asked one.
“I feel like it’s quite substantial,” he said.
She asked another man how his mother would feel if she knew he spoke like that, to which the man responded, “Oh, my mom would die laughing, eventually.”
While the “FHRITP” trend is vulgar, it could also be illegal.
“So far none of the reporters want charges laid,” said Const. Victor Kwong of the Toronto police. “Bottom line is, if the reporters did want to file a report with us, they absolutely can.”
In Calgary, police have issued a statement to broadcasters that the activity constitutes grounds for a charge and arrest.
“We haven’t taken it as far as what Calgary has done because in Calgary apparently it was quite rampant and quite common,” Kwong said.
Kingston police said in a tweet on Tuesday morning, “Our media partners should not have to deal with #FHRITP. Cause Disturbance seems to apply.”
Causing disturbance is a Criminal Code offence which includes “fighting, screaming, shouting, swearing, singing or using insulting or obscene language,” in a public place.
Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said that they are familiar with the phenomenon.
“Certainly if we did have a complainant come forward we would work with the employer to investigate the incident and depending on the outcome of that investigation, would determine what if any charges would be appropriate,” said Gray.
She says that it would be difficult to speculate on any one particular charge, as it would depend on the exact nature of the incident and subsequent investigation.
“You could be looking at mischief, you could be looking at breach of the peace, you could be looking at sexual harassment, you could be looking at assault,” Gray said.
“I wouldn’t want to put a number on it, but it’s happening more and more often,” she said.