Western University Chancellor Linda Hasenfratz to keep position after out-of-country vacation

Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz has been named to Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine task force. Global News

Western University’s Board of Directors says Linda Hasenfratz will keep her position as chancellor after news broke she travelled out of Canada for a vacation during the pandemic.

Despite saying her travels were “contrary to the directions Western has given its community for the past several months,” the school said they made the decision based on her record in the position and ‘remorse’.

“Her actions did not demonstrate the respect for others and the integrity we expect from members of the Western community, especially our leader,” Board Chair Rick Konrad said in a statement Monday.

“We have weighed this against the extensive time the Chancellor has given to Western in many ways over the years, inspiring young women leaders in engineering and business, and acting as a strong advocate for work-integrated learning.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Does Canada need tighter travel restrictions to control COVID-19?

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Hasenfratz recently travelled internationally on holiday, against government and public health advice.

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News of the trip was first reported by The Globe and Mail last week.

The story, published on Jan. 19, said the newspaper received information Hasenfratz, CEO of the manufacturing company Linamar, vacationed in Barbados. But in a statement about her resignation released that evening, Hasenfratz did not confirm her travel destination.

Following the news, Hasenfratz resigned from Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, one of the latest people to resign after travelling outside of Canada on a vacation.

In a statement, she said she was ‘grateful’ get to continue as Western’s Chancellor and that she is ‘heartbroken for letting everyone down.’

“I am so disappointed in myself for not setting a better example when I travelled abroad against recommendations,” she said.

“I have breached the community’s trust and apologize without reservation for the mistake I have made.”

A petition was launched calling for her removal as chancellor has garnered over 800 signatures.

Read more: Lockdowns, curfew, stay-at-home order: What’s next in Canada’s COVID-19 fight?

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News of this comes after officials have pleaded with residents for months to avoid non-essential travel in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, international travel hasn’t been banned by the federal government.

Linamar received a $2.5-million contract from the Ontario government in September to manufacture 10,000 ventilators in response to the pandemic.

— With files from Nick Westoll

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