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Archive for October 10, 2022

Oct. 10, 2022 — And it’s not just below the 49th Parallel

In a strange coincidence within the North American sports community, Canada is grappling with its own governance scandals within a sport which has a deep connection with its national identity.

That sport is ice hockey. There have been allegations over the years of sexual exploitation of players, each of which was dealt with individually and within the scope of the league or club involved.

But when a woman won a lawsuit against Hockey Canada because of a 2018 gang-rape by members of the U20 men’s national team after a gala feting the team’s gold-medal win, the scandal exploded when it was revealed that a fund made up in part with players’ registration fees was used to pay for that settlement as well as numerous other “uninsured liabilities” such as sexual and mental abuse cases, going all the way back to 1989.

These revelations received attention and commentary as far up as the office of the Prime Minister.

“It boggles the mind that Hockey Canada is continuing to dig in its heels,” Justin Trudeau said last Wednesday to a gaggle of reporters. “Parents across the country are losing faith or have lost faith in Hockey Canada. Certainly, politicians here in Ottawa have lost faith in Hockey Canada.”

The heel-digging to which Trudeau is referring is in the form of statements that interim Hockey Canada chair Andrea Skinner made to the House of Commons defending Hockey Canada. Skinner said that toxic behavior is a societal issue and inferred that the governing body of hockey was being made a scapegoat.

Much has happened since Trudeau’s remarks. Major sponsors of Hockey Canada, such as Canadian Tire, Chevrolet, Telus, Esso, Nike, and Tim Horton’s, pulled their sponsorship late last week. In addition, provincial hockey governing bodies nationwide announced their intentions to withhold funding to the national body.

And then, Saturday night, Skinner resigned from her chairmanship.

So, with less than two months to go before hosting the World Juniors (one of the world’s biggest hockey tournaments), Canada’s national governing body of ice hockey is in disarray, far down in finances, and embroiled in scandal.

And I have a feeling more resignations are coming.