Hockey Canada executives must leave before they ‘burn’ the organization ‘to the ground’, says minister


The federal sports minister is stepping up her criticism of the executives of Hockey Canada – an organization accused of mishandling gang rape allegations – by urging them to leave their posts before the sports body is damaged beyond repair.

“I hope they get the message and leave before they burn it to ashes,” Pascale St-Onge said Thursday after a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill.

His comments are just the latest salvo to the national ice hockey body.

Hockey Canada sponsors are falling like dominoes in recent days. Canadian Tire announced on Thursday that it is permanently ending its partnership with Hockey Canada.

WATCH | Hockey Canada executives must leave before they “burn” the organization “:” St-Onge

Sports Minister says she hopes Hockey Canada executives leave before ‘burning’ organization ‘to the ground’

Sports Minister Pascale St Onge speaks out on the withdrawal of Hockey Canada sponsors.

“In our view, Hockey Canada continues to resist meaningful change and we can no longer confidently move forward together,” Canadian Tire Corporation spokesperson Jessica Sims said Thursday.

“The CTC is proud of its commitment to the sport and will continue to invest in our beloved national game by redirecting support to hockey-related organizations that better align with our values.”

Telus, which was considered a “first-tier” sponsor, announced Thursday morning that it will no longer fund Hockey Canada’s men’s program for the upcoming season.

“We are deeply discouraged by Hockey Canada’s lack of action and commitment to drive the necessary cultural change,” the telecommunications company said in a statement.

“Telus will not be sponsoring Hockey Canada’s men’s hockey programs for the 2022-23 season, including the upcoming World Junior Tournament. We remain passionate fans and supporters of the sport of hockey and are committed to enabling systemic change to make hockey safe for all. “

Grocery chain Sobeys and Skip the Dishes, a food delivery app, also announced on Thursday that they were cutting ties.

“When our contract with Hockey Canada expired at the end of June, we chose not to renew our sponsorship because we were disgusted by all of the allegations and, just as importantly, by Hockey Canada’s reluctance to make meaningful changes to regaining the trust of Canadians and ensuring that everyone feels welcome and safe when playing the sport,” said Paul Wyke, spokesperson for Sobeys.

“We fully intend to continue supporting the National Women’s Hockey Team and are currently exploring options that will allow us to do so directly, with no connection to Hockey Canada.”

Imperial Oil also said it will not support Hockey Canada’s men’s programs through its Esso brand during the 2022-23 season.

Canadian Tire Corporation said it could no longer confidently move forward with Hockey Canada. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

On Wednesday, Tim Hortons announced that it will be withdrawing its sponsorship of all Hockey Canada men’s hockey programs for the 2022-23 season, including the world junior men’s championships.

Hockey Canada plans to host the 2023 World Junior Championships in Halifax and Moncton, N.B., from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

Major sponsors suspended funding ahead of the August 2022 world junior championships in Edmonton after TSN reported in May that Hockey Canada paid an undisclosed settlement to a woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by eight players, including members of the 2018 Canadian junior team.

Hockey Canada has since confirmed it has paid $8.9 million in settlements to 21 complainants for sexual misconduct against its players since 1989.

The organization also admitted to dipping into minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims.

The CBCs The fifth state identified at least 15 alleged cases of gang sexual assault involving junior hockey players that have been investigated by police since 1989 – half of which have surfaced in the past decade – through a review of public records.

Hockey Canada says no to managerial changes

The corporate decisions add corporate pressure to growing calls for ice hockey’s national governing body to undergo a leadership change after a widely criticized appearance by one of its leaders before a parliamentary committee this week.

On Tuesday, interim board chair Andrea Skinner defended Hockey Canada, saying it had an “excellent reputation” and suggesting its critics were making “hockey as the centerpiece of a toxic culture” a goat. emissary.

Andrea Skinner, Interim Chair of Hockey Canada’s Board of Directors, appears virtually as a witness before a House of Commons Committee on Canadian Heritage, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, October 4. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Skinner insisted Hockey Canada will not make any leadership changes despite a direct request from St-Onge, who said she believed mass resignations at the governing body were needed to restore public confidence .

At one point, Skinner was asked to rate the performance of Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith, who has been widely condemned for his stewardship of the organization.

“I’m a tough scorer, and I think the circumstances that Mr. Smith has worked under have been really extraordinary and difficult. I would say he performs like an ‘A’ under the circumstances,” she replied. .

Skinner’s comments led to something rare in Ottawa: united criticism of major political parties.

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, a former TV sportscaster, called Hockey Canada’s response to calls for a change in leadership “arrogant”.

“They doubled down and it’s really disgusting,” he said on Wednesday.

During Tuesday’s committee meeting, Bloc Québécois MP Sebastien Lemire said Hockey Canada “lives in a bubble” and is “out of touch” with public opinion.

Those comments were echoed by NDP MP Peter Julian, who called Hockey Canada’s refusal to release certain information “troublesome.”

WATCH | “Hockey Canada has lost the trust of Canadians,” says Trudeau

“Hockey Canada has lost the trust of Canadians”: Trudeau

As Hockey Canada continues to lose sponsors, including Telus and Tim Hortons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it’s time to review the direction of the organization.

Those frustrations are shared by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said Thursday it was time to consider starting a new organization to replace Hockey Canada.

“It is inconceivable that the people of Hockey Canada continue to be involved. It’s not like there’s anything extraordinarily special about the folks at Hockey Canada that means they’re the only people in the country who can lead an organization like this,” he said. declared.

“They have to realize that if we’re going to create an organization, get rid of Hockey Canada and create an organization called ‘Canada Hockey’ instead, people will consider doing it.”

Trudeau said that while the federal government “isn’t tasked” with creating new hockey organizations, he’s sure “a void will be filled.”

Imperial Oil has not yet made a decision

In a statement Thursday morning, Chevrolet Canada reiterated its position from June, saying it has withdrawn from sponsorship activities with Hockey Canada “as we seek further clarity on the specific steps the organization has taken and take following the alleged incidents of abuse”.

“At GM, we have zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and want Hockey Canada to once again set a positive example for all Canadians in all that it does,” spokeswoman Jennifer Wright said in a statement. a statement.

WATCH | The acting president of Hockey Canada is a “scapegoat”, says the Minister of Sport:

Hockey Canada’s interim president is a ‘scapegoat’, sports minister says

Pascale St-Onge says she is saddened that Andrea Skinner, interim chair of Hockey Canada’s board of directors, is the face of the boys’ club problem.

Scotiabank said its June decision to suspend its sponsorship remains in effect.

“In our June open letter, we publicly called on Hockey Canada to keep the game at a higher level and we are disappointed with the lack of progress to date,” the bank said in a statement.

The federal government has also announced that it will cease all funding for Hockey Canada until it shows signs of positive change.

Two provincial hockey organizations have also taken action against the national body.

Earlier this week, Hockey Quebec said it has lost faith in Hockey Canada and will not be transferring funds to the national organization.

The Ontario Hockey Federation, the largest of Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial hockey associations, said it has again asked Hockey Canada not to collect the $3 participant assessment fee from of its members for the 2022-2023 season.

The Ontario group’s executive director said the organization is monitoring the situation.

Hockey New Brunswick said it is awaiting the results of a review by former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell before taking further action.

Hockey Canada has hired Cromwell to lead a review of the organization’s governance structure.

The review is expected to provide draft recommendations before Hockey Canada’s Annual General Meeting in November.


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