Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s concerned sports organizations are not fulfilling their responsibility to keep athletes safe, and groups like Hockey Canada and Gymnastics Canada have work to do to restore trust and assure parents their children are taken care of.
“They shouldn’t be worried about satisfying the government, they should be worried about satisfying parents across the country, that they’re keeping their kids safe, that they are an organization promoting the kinds of values, the kind of safe environment that every parent has a right to expect for their kids, that we want kids to model,” Trudeau said Friday.
In a statement to CTV News, Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge confirmed on Thursday that the federal government will freeze funding to Gymnastics Canada until the organization co-operates with the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC).
This came on the heels of more than 500 gymnasts signing an open letter to St-Onge calling on the minister to suspend funding to the organization, and reiterating previous calls for an investigation into what it calls “the systemic culture of abuse that prevails in Canadian gymnastics.” Gymnastics Canada was asked Thursday to comment on the letter but said it will issue a response Friday.
Last month the federal government also froze funding to Hockey Canada, under fire for its handling of sexual assault claims.
Trudeau says he wants sports organizations across Canada to be more transparent and sign on to accountability measures, such as the abuse-free sport program under the OSIC. There are currently only four program signatories: Canada Games Council, Canadian Sport for Live, Volleyball Canada, and Weightlifting Canada Haltérophilie.
Another Canadian child gymnast has been sexually assaulted and the Canadian Government continues to ignore athletes’ calls for an Independent Third-Party investigation into the abuse in Canadian Gymnastics.
— 🇨🇦Gymnasts4Change Canada (@Gym4ChangeCan) July 21, 2022
Trudeau also says the government is committed to helping reinstate trust in sporting organizations.
“We’re going to continue making sure that as a government and working with other orders of government, we are pushing for changes that make sure that our kids are kept safe,” he said.
“We need to listen, we need to act, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
With files from CTV News’ Melanie Nagy and Alexandra Mae Jones
Hockey Canada: Which sponsors have pulled funding? – CTV News
Hockey Canada’s board of directors called an emergency meeting Thursday night under mounting pressure from top corporate sponsors, political leaders and provincial organizations stemming from the group’s apparent unwillingness to address its handling of alleged sexual assaults.
Two provincial organizations are calling for resignations, with Hockey Manitoba stating that there needs to be “a change in Hockey Canada’s leadership,” and Hockey Nova Scotia saying it has “lost confidence in Hockey Canada’s senior leadership.”
Hockey Nova Scotia also confirmed it has cut off its funding to Hockey Canada for the 2022-23 season.
Since the news came out that registration fees for Hockey Canada helped to pay for a multimillion-dollar settlement to address sexual assault allegations, the organization has been taking heat.
But Hockey Canada firmly rejected changing the leadership earlier this week, despite calls for action.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested Thursday that if the national hockey governing body continues to resist calls to address its handling of sexual assault claims and funding, the organization could be replaced.
“It is inconceivable that folks at Hockey Canada continue to dig in. It’s not like there’s something extraordinarily special about the people at Hockey Canada, that means they are the only people in the country that can run an organization like this,” Trudeau said. “There needs to be wholesale change. They need to do it. They need to realize that if we have to create an organization—get rid of Hockey Canada and create an organization called ‘Canada Hockey’ instead, people will look at doing that.”
TSN, which will be hosting the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship in Atlantic Canada, is also calling for action.
The sports broadcaster, owned by CTV’s parent company Bell Media, is urging “Hockey Canada to enact meaningful change to deliver a hockey environment built on a culture of respect.”
Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, who said he was subjected to years of sexual abuse by a coach while playing with the Swift Current Broncos, said it’s obvious Hockey Canada can’t continue this way.
“The picture is clear that the organization as a whole and its leadership has lost the trust and support of not just citizens in Canada, but all of its corporate sponsorship,” Kennedy said.
While some sponsors initially halted their support when allegations surfaced this summer, including BDO and Esso Canada, here are the corporate sponsors who have recently confirmed pulling their support or maintaining their pause, as the controversy continues to unfold. Here’s what those sponsors have said about their decisions:
“After careful consideration, Canadian Tire Corporation has made the decision to end its partnership with Hockey Canada. In our view, Hockey Canada continues to resist meaningful change and we can no longer confidently move forward together. CTC is proud of our commitment to sport and will continue to invest in our beloved national game by re-directing support to hockey-related organizations that better align with our values. The Respect Group, which is focused on preventing bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination, is one of many organizations where funds will be diverted. We are committed to supporting hockey and sport that is inclusive and safe for all Canadians,” said Canadian Tire Corporation Senior Vice President of Communications Jane Shaw in a statement on Oct. 5.
“We’ve communicated to Hockey Canada on many occasions that the organization needs to take strong and definitive action before it can regain the faith and trust of Canadians. We’re deeply disappointed in the lack of progress that Hockey Canada has made to date. We officially informed Hockey Canada this week that we have pulled out of all men’s hockey programming for the 2022-23 season including the men’s world junior championships. We continue to fund Canada’s women’s and para hockey teams, as well as youth hockey,” said Tim Hortons media relations in a statement on Oct. 5.
“We can confirm that Chevrolet Canada has stepped back from its sponsorship activities with Hockey Canada as we seek more clarity on what specific steps the organization has and will take following the alleged incidents of abuse. We at GM have no tolerance for abuse of any kind and wish to see Hockey Canada return to setting a positive example for all Canadians in all it does,” said GM Canada Executive Director of Communications Jennifer Wright in a statement on Oct. 6.
“Our sponsorship pause of Hockey Canada remains in effect. Principally, this means a continued pause of our support for men’s hockey throughout the entire 2022/2023 season including the upcoming World Junior Championship. In our open letter in June, we publicly called on Hockey Canada to hold the game to a higher standard and we are disappointed with the lack of progress to date. From Hockey Canada, we expect a tangible commitment to transparency with Canadians, strong leadership, accountability with their stakeholders and the hockey community, and improved safety both on and off the ice. Ultimately our position hasn’t wavered: the time for change is long overdue,” said Scotiabank media relations in a statement on Oct. 5.
“We are deeply disheartened by the lack of action and commitment from Hockey Canada to drive necessary cultural change. TELUS will not be sponsoring Hockey Canada’s men’s hockey programs for the 2022-23 season, including the upcoming World Juniors tournament. We remain passionate fans and supporters of the sport of hockey and stand committed to enabling systemic change to make hockey safe for all,” said Telus media relations in a statement on Oct. 6.
SKIP THE DISHES
“Like many Canadians, we have been deeply troubled by recent allegations, and as such have since terminated our partnership with Hockey Canada,” said a Skip The Dishes spokesperson in an email to CTV News on Oct. 6.
“Empire has been a proud sponsor of the Women’s National Hockey team for a number of years. 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, as importantly, Hockey Canada’s unwillingness to make meaningful change to earn back the trust of Canadians and ensure everyone feels welcome and safe when playing the sport. We fully intend to continue to support the Women’s National Hockey team and are currently exploring options that will allow us to do that directly, without any connection to Hockey Canada,” said Sobeys media relations in an email to CTV News on Oct. 6.
With files from CTV News’ Kevin Gallagher
Saskatchewan RCMP say one suspect killed 11 in rampage, including brother
REGINA — A member of James Smith Cree Nation was wrongfully accused by RCMP of killing an individual during the stabbing attacks last month in the community and in the nearby village of Weldon, Sask.
Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said evidence shows Damien Sanderson did not kill anyone during the rampage and was killed by his own brother.
Blackmore said Myles Sanderson killed Damien Sanderson and 10 others on Sept. 4. Eighteen people were injured.
“Myles Sanderson committed all of the homicides alone,” Blackmore said Thursday.
Blackmore said there is evidence to suggest Damien Sanderson was involved in the planning and preparation of the attacks, although the extent of that involvement is still being investigated.
A day after the stabbings, as police searched for the brothers across the province, RCMP charged them with first-degree murder.
Damien Sanderson faced one count of first-degree murder, attempted murder and break and enter, but the charges were dropped after his body was found near one of the crime scenes on the First Nation on Sept. 5. At the time, police said he died from non-self-inflicted wounds.
On Sept. 7, police chased and stopped Myles Sanderson in a stolen vehicle near Rosthern, Sask. A short time later, he went into medical distress and died.
“The Saskatchewan RCMP believes it is important to clarify Damien’s involvement,” Blackmore said.
“Our investigators continue to corroborate witness statements with physical evidence and exhibits to create an accurate picture of the motives behind these crimes and why some of the victims were targeted.”
The new information was part of a timeline RCMP released that outlined what the brothers were up to in the day days before the attack.
Blackmore said the brothers were selling drugs in the community on Sept. 3 and had violently assaulted three people that day.
“It is unknown at this point whether any weapons were involved,” Blackmore said, adding that the assaults were not reported to police.
Mounties had been on the First Nation earlier that morning looking for Damien Sanderson. Someone had anonymously reported that he had stolen their vehicle a day earlier, and he was wanted on a warrant for a previous assault charge.
Officers had an outdated photo of Damien Sanderson from eight years ago, Blackmore said.
Two officers found the stolen vehicle and entered a nearby home to see if he was one of the seven people inside. But no one identified themselves by that name.
“We later confirmed Damien provided a false name to responding officers during the search of the residence,” Blackmore said. “He had been at the residence and verbally provided the officers the name of another — a real person in the community.”
RCMP said they had no information or indication that would suggest there would be violence in the community the next morning.
“The events that were going to unfold the next day were unknown to police at that time,” Blackmore said, noting that when police responded to the First Nation on Sept. 3, there was no mention of Myles Sanderson.
Blackmore said the idea that RCMP could have prevented the massacre because of their presence on the First Nation a day before the attacks is “pure speculation.”
“We had no indication that there had been violence committed (on Sept. 3). The assaults that occurred were not reported to police before the mass casualty events that occurred on Sept. 4, and we had no reason to believe that they were going to commit these events.”
Blackmore said it will likely take months for investigators to compile a full timeline of what happened.
“The reality is we may never really know exactly why,” she said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022.
Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press
Yellowknife pub heads to trial to fight fine for breaking COVID-19 rules
YELLOWKNIFE — The owners of a Yellowknife pub headed to trial Thursday to fight a charge of violating Northwest Territories COVID-19 public health orders.
Public health officers issued a ticket to The Monkey Tree Pub in December 2020. The ticket alleges the pub operated a dance floor after midnight on Nov. 14, 2020, which was against public health orders at the time. It carries a fine and surcharge totalling $5,175.
Two liquor inspectors testified that during a routine inspection of the crowded bar they saw people on the dance floor.
“Everybody was pretty much shoulder to shoulder,” said Suzanne Hanna, manager of liquor enforcement.
Vibhesh Tripathi said he counted 132 people. It was slightly above the 125-person capacity limit that public health officials had granted the pub at the time, but below the limit allowed under the liquor act.
Tripathi and Hanna said there were no signs indicating the dance floor was closed and, unlike other bars in the city that had converted their dance floors into seating areas, they didn’t see any tables and chairs.
On cross-examination by defence lawyer Jay Bran, Hanna said it was possible people could have blocked her view of tables or chairs.
But Tripathi said it “would be rather impossible” that his view was obstructed as he had walked around the dance floor. He said a bartender indicated the dance floor was open.
Hanna and Tripathi said they didn’t take photos documenting the alleged violations because it was outside their role as liquor inspectors.
“I saw it with my own two eyes and I was there,” said Hanna.
Ian Ellsworth, who was a public health officer at the time, testified that he spoke to the inspectors and collected statements, notes and reports from them as part of his investigation into the complaint against the pub. He said he did not speak to pub staff, because it would be awkward for someone to give a statement against their employer. He said he had two “credible” eyewitnesses.
“I didn’t think that I needed to,” he said.
Ellsworth decided to proceed with a ticket, which he and another officer served to the pub’s co-owners four weeks later. He said the owners, Jennifer Vornbrock and Stephen Dinham, were “very confrontational,” raising their voices and questioning if another bar in the city was also being charged.
“They were just very upset that they were being charged,” he said, adding that before he left one of the owners said, “Oh, this’ll just get thrown out in court anyways.’”
Prosecutor Roger Shepard said the case is not a complicated matter and a conviction for operating a dance floor is warranted. He said the Crown was not pursuing a charge over allegations the pub had exceeded capacity limits.
Bran did not call any evidence. He said the Crown, lacking a “more fulsome investigation,” had failed to prove that nothing had been done to prevent people from dancing nor what the requirements to close a dance floor were.
Deputy Judge Bernadette Schmaltz said she would give a decision Friday.
The pub was the first business in N.W.T. to be charged with violating COVID-19 rules. A charge against the Super A Foods grocery store in Hay River was stayed by the Crown in May 2022.
During the COVID-19 public health emergency in N.W.T., which ended on April 1, 2022, the territory’s COVID-19 secretariat issued 73 tickets for violations of public health orders. Of those, 69 were issued to individuals and two to businesses.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Emily Blake, The Canadian Press
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