Patty Hajdu was in Winnipeg on Thursday.
Canada's minister of employment, workforce development and labour announced that more than $3 million will be allocated to help women seeking work in building trades.
Robert Blakely, the Canadian operating officer for Canada's Building Trade Unions, decided to soften the atmosphere in the hall and joked that Patty looked great in her pants. After that he explained his joke:
"Your real friends are the ones who tell you the truth — the ones who know the right answer to, 'Do I look fat in these pants?'"
Blakely said that he respects Hajdu and her sense of humour.
"Patty and I know each other. We like each other. We have the same kind of weird sense of humour. I think we trust each other in what we do in business. So you do things sometimes somebody else will look at and say, 'Oh my god, what happened there?' " Blakely said.
After the event, Patty once again drew attention to the importance of the financing decision.
"The success of women in the workplace depends on all of us to work together and support each other to change long-standing norms. It's a learning moment for everyone. We need to focus on the importance of this investment in women in the trades, and will continue to work harder to do better."
However, Blakely’s joke was not appreciated by everyone and the Canadian arm of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers even asked him to apologize. Robert Blakely was shocked as all the attention at the event should have been paid to more important things than his joke.
Funding will help women take necessary training on behaviour in the workplace, and become aware of issues related to discrimination and harassment.
"Women, often when they pursue careers in the trades, have additional barriers in the workplace because there aren't very many women," Hajdu said. "So having other women support them and help them work through some of those challenges leads to success for the women, leads to success for the employer."