OTTAWA — As Canadian Tire joins the growing list of high-profile sponsors withdrawing their support from Hockey Canada, Justin Trudeau says the national organization’s leadership needs to go.
“They are not the only people in Canada that we could see overseeing an organization like Hockey Canada,” said the Prime Minister, exasperated Thursday morning when asked about this file. “At some point, people will wake up. I don’t know what else we can say except that we have lost confidence in Hockey Canada, it’s time for them to leave!”
We learned Thursday morning that Canadian Tire and Telus were joining Scotiabank, Tim Hortons and Chevrolet Canada, which had already announced the withdrawal of their financial sponsorship support for Hockey Canada.
The announcements come as the National Hockey Federation continues to defend its handling of sexual assault allegations — the way the national body has paid out money to avoid prosecution in alleged gang sexual assault cases. allegedly committed by young players.
“Sponsors will flee, partners like Hockey Quebec will flee, the government (not) gives them more funds, parents are starting to worry, as the hockey season approaches, that we will send our children overseen by an organization that is not there to protect, which uses the funds that are sent to Hockey Canada for improper purposes, ”lamented Prime Minister Trudeau.
“They may well continue to resist, but I know that there are many parents who will stop before writing a check to send their child to hockey (…) Honestly, I am really puzzled that Hockey Canada does not understand that their game is over. There is no longer anyone who trusts Hockey Canada.”
Hockey Quebec said this week that it no longer trusts Hockey Canada and has decided to no longer transfer funds from players’ dues to the national federation.
The Ontario federation, the largest of the 13 provincial and territorial associations in Canada, also asked Hockey Canada for a second time not to collect the $3 participant evaluation fee from its members for the season.
On Thursday, the Nova Scotia federation announced in turn a freeze on the transfer of funds to Hockey Canada, saying that it had « lost confidence » in this organization. The decision was made following an emergency meeting of the provincial federation’s board of directors on Thursday.
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston also said he wants to see significant changes at Hockey Canada before allowing the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championship to be held in December. and January in the cities of Halifax and Moncton in New Brunswick.
Hockey Canada has been under intense scrutiny since May, when it was learned that the organization had settled a lawsuit against a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight men’s national team players. junior of 2018, at a sports awards gala in London, Ontario that year.
Hockey Canada later admitted it dipped into minor hockey membership fees to pay for “uninsured liabilities,” including alleged sexual assault claims.
Pressure for a change in the leadership of the struggling sports body intensified during parliamentary hearings in Ottawa this week. Federal Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge said it was time to « clean up. »
But Hockey Canada’s interim chair of the board, Andrea Skinner, reiterated that she continues to support the CEO and senior management, insisting that you can change a culture while maintaining stability at the high direction.
Questioned Thursday morning, Minister St-Onge estimated that to save Hockey Canada, « the best thing to do is to replace the leaders as quickly as possible, to work to rebuild the organization with a new culture, with new practices that protect players, that also protect members of the public, and that protect women.
« I think there is a way to rebuild by having new people and changing the culture, but it has to be done very quickly, » she said.
« With its leaders who don’t have the support of either sponsors or their own members who are starting to jump ship, certainly not the Canadian public, after all we hear, so I hope they will make the right decision before everything collapses, finally, for the organization.
The sponsors leave the ship
Thursday morning, Canadian Tire spokeswoman Jane Shaw said the company made the decision to end its partnership with Hockey Canada after careful consideration. She explains that the body seems to continue to resist significant change and that “we can no longer confidently move forward together”.
Ms. Shaw said Canadian Tire will redirect its support to hockey-related organizations that better align with company values and focus on inclusive and safe sport for all Canadians.
Telus also announced Thursday that it will not be sponsoring any Hockey Canada men’s programming this season, including the Junior Men’s World Championship in Halifax and Moncton. Telus says it is « deeply discouraged » by Hockey Canada’s lack of action and commitment to drive a needed culture change within management.
Tim Hortons had ruled Wednesday that it would not sponsor any Hockey Canada men’s programming this season, including the Junior Men’s World Championship.
Scotiabank has also decided that its Hockey Canada sponsorship break, first announced in June, will remain in effect for the entire 2022-23 season.
Chevrolet Canada had suspended its sponsorship in June, and the company confirmed Thursday that this measure was still in effect.