February marks the second annual Global Ethics Month, as declared by the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management.

CPRS Calgary will contribute to the global initiative by holding The WE Scandal: A Study In Ethics, a case study-based workshop that presents PR-related ethical challenges for the practitioner to overcome.

In June, 2020 the Government of Canada announced the $912 million Canada Student Service Grant program, which would provide students $1,000 for every 100 hours of volunteer activities, up to $5,000, as a way to assist Canada’s student population amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It also announced that WE Charity would be the administrator of the program, as it was “the only possible option” able to administer the program. The announcement caused widespread backlash from citizens and organizations alike, who argued against the sole-sourced contract, and accused the Government of Canada of cronyism, preferential treatment, and conflict of interest, among other allegations. The scandal ultimately led to the demise of WE Charity in Canada only three months later.

Kim Blanchette, APR, Chart.PR, FCPRS and Colleen Killingsworth, MCM, APR, FCPRS have been instrumental in CPRS’ National Task Force on Ethical Public Relations, and will lead this workshop.

Using the CPRS Code of Professional Standards and the corresponding Decision Tree to guide the discussion, participants will analyze the WE scandal and discuss the ethical issues behind it, how the issue was managed from a communications perspective, and what we might have done differently, had we been in the shoes of the WE Charity or the Government of Canada communications team.


When: Wed, Feb 24, 8:30 – 10:00am

Cost: Member $30; Non-member $40; Student $20


APRs: This session is worth 0.5 Accreditation Maintenance Points.


About our speakers:

Kim Blanchette, APR, Chart.PR, FCPRS

Kim is a leader in Public Relations, Strategic Communications and Engagement. Kim is the Senior Vice President and General Manager (Western Canada) at Argyle. She leads the Western Canadian team of engagement, public relations and public health communicators, providing clients with over 25 years of experience in these ever-changing practices.

Kim is both a chartered and an accredited communications professional and a member of the CPRS College of Fellows, whose talents run the entire public relations gamut, from communications, media, and crisis management to stakeholder and public engagement, behavioural change communications, employee and executive communications, change management, and brand/reputation management at the provincial, federal, and international levels. She began honing her skills while serving with the Government of Canada in various departments, including Veterans Affairs Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency. Later, she became Consul (Political and Economic Relations and Public Affairs) at the Consulate General of Canada in Seattle and then Vice President Communications and International Relations for the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Kim is an example of what it means to be a leader at Argyle as she shows organizations how they can engage, communicate, and lead with confidence.




Colleen Killingsworth, MCM, APR, FCPRS

Colleen has more than 30 years of experience in management consulting, change management and strategic communications. She has a strong track record in leadership, collaboration, successfully managing complex, transformational projects and quickly earning the confidence and support of internal and external stakeholders. Colleen has worked in the health care, energy, education, municipal government, travel and tourism, and transportation sectors.

Colleen is an accredited communications professional, member of the CPRS College of Fellows and president of CKCommunications Strategies. Career highlights include leading the University of Calgary’s participation in the Royal Visit to the University of Calgary; serving as president of the Canadian Centre for Energy Information; and providing change management support and mentorship for the people side of change for Cenovus’s consolidation of its Calgary workforce (1,700 people) from five locations to one. Colleen is a sessional instructor in the McMaster-Syracuse Master of Communications Management (MCM) program, and an instructor in the Public Relations Certificate Program in at Mount Royal University.