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Hockey Canada’s response to scandal ‘boggles the mind,’ says Trudeau

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the posturing of Hockey Canada — an organization accused of mishandling allegations of gang rapes — “boggles the mind,” while the federal sports minister says it’s time for members of the embattled organization to “clean the house.”

Pressure is mounting on ice hockey’s national governing body for a change in its leadership after a widely-panned appearance by one of its executives in front of a parliamentary committee Tuesday.

Interim board chair Andrea Skinner defended Hockey Canada, saying it has an “excellent reputation” and arguing against scapegoating “hockey as a centrepiece for toxic culture.”

Skinner said Hockey Canada won’t be making any managerial changes, defying a request from federal Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge — who has said she believes mass resignations at the governing body are necessary to restore public trust.

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Andrea Skinner, interim chair of the board of directors at Hockey Canada, appears virtually as a witness before the heritage committee in Ottawa on Tuesday. She said the organization won’t be making any managerial changes. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

“I think that would be very impactful in a negative way to all of our boys and girls who are playing hockey,” Skinner said Tuesday.

“Will the lights stay on at the rink? I don’t know. We can’t predict that. To me, it’s not a risk worth taking.”

That response seemed to mystify the prime minister.

“I think it — it boggles the mind that Hockey Canada is continuing to dig in its heels,” he said Wednesday before heading into a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill.

“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.”

Hockey Québec cuts ties

At least one regional federation has heeded St-Onge’s call for change.

Hockey Québec voted Tuesday night to cut ties with Hockey Canada in the wake of new allegations against the sporting body.

The Globe and Mail, citing documents obtained by the newspaper, reported Monday that Hockey Canada put player registration fees toward a second fund “for matters including but not limited to sexual abuse.”

WATCH | Calls for leadership change: 

Trudeau, sport minister call for Hockey Canada leadership change

4 hours ago

Duration 8:50

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge have thrown their support behind Hockey Québec’s decision to cut ties with Hockey Canada following new allegations against the sporting body.

In a resolution first obtained by La Presse, Quebec’s provincial hockey federation states that it no longer has “confidence in the ability of Hockey Canada to act effectively to change the culture of hockey with the structure in place.”

It also said it will no longer transfer funds to the national organization.

“I think the decision that Hockey Québec took shows that reform [is] being engaged. It also sends the message to the leaders at the organization that are holding on to their jobs that Hockey Canada doesn’t belong to them, it also belongs to their members and they want change,” St-Onge said Wednesday.

“Since the leaders of Hockey Canada are holding on to their jobs, the voting members need to clean the house.”

CBC News has reached out to the other 12 regional hockey organizations for comment.

The executive director of the Ontario Hockey Federation said the group is monitoring the situation.

 

Singh says Hockey Canada testimony was ‘appalling’

 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he is ‘shocked at the complete lack of understanding’ within Hockey Canada of public outrage over sexual assault cases in the sport.

Phillip McKee said the group already had requested through Michael Brind’Amour, the former chair of Hockey Canada’s board of directors (who has since resigned), that Hockey Canada not collect the $3 participant assessment fee for the 2022-2023 season.

“He confirmed he would take it to the board of directors. It is our understanding now that this request was never directed to the board before his departure. Based on this information, the OHF has once again, reaffirmed our formal request,” McKee wrote in an email to CBC News.

“The OHF remains committed to protecting the game of hockey on and off the ice this season for our members. We are also committed to being transparent about our operations to our members, the communities, volunteers, families and players who rely us to play the game they love.”

A spokesperson for Hockey Saskatchewan says it has “no comment at this time.”

Hockey Nova Scotia said its board of directors will meet next week to review next steps.

Hockey Canada has faced a torrent of criticism over its secretive use of player registration fees and other investments to compensate sexual assault complainants.

This summer, after a number of news outlets broke stories about the existence of these funds, Hockey Canada revealed it had paid out $8.9 million in settlements to 21 complainants with sexual misconduct claims since 1989.

Through a review of public records, CBC’s The Fifth Estate has identified at least 15 cases of alleged group sexual assault involving junior hockey players that have been investigated by police since 1989 — half of which surfaced in the past decade.

 

Anatomy of a Scandal

Hockey Canada is on the defensive over allegations that some members of its gold-medal winning World Junior team in 2018 took part in a group sexual assault, and the organization didn’t do enough to hold players accountable. The Fifth Estate examines the national shame inside Canada’s game, and the disturbing history that suggests this was not an isolated incident.

Conservative MP John Nater, a member of the Commons heritage committee, said he hopes other provincial organizations follow Hockey Quebec’s lead.

“I think we need meaningful change at the top of Hockey Canada. Obviously, the CEO has to go and other management has to go as well,” he said before his own party’s Wednesday caucus meeting.

“Right now, we need to put pressure on the organization, we need to put pressure on the 13 voting members to ensure that there’s a board in place that’s going to make those meaningful changes at the top.”

His Conservative caucus colleague MP Kevin Waugh, a former television sports journalist, called Hockey Canada’s response to calls for a change in management “arrogant.”

“They’ve doubled down and it’s disgusting, really,” he said, before citing Hockey Canada’s decision to hire Navigator, a crisis management firm, to help it deal with the wave of bad press.

“They spent a lot of money on Navigator. It’s a company that’s trying to put the narrative of that they’re great guys, nothing’s wrong, we’re going to change, everything will be fine. But that’s not the case.”

MP calls Skinner’s comments ‘Trump-like’

Skinner’s appearance before the heritage committee on Tuesday triggered bewilderment, sometimes even laughter, among the assembled MPs — who, despite their partisan differences, were universally critical of Hockey Canada at the meeting.

Bloc Québécois MP Sébastien Lemire said Hockey Canada is “living in a bubble” and is “disconnected” from public opinion.

Nater read aloud excerpts from Hockey Canada board meeting minutes that showed the organization was intent on “shifting the narrative” around the scandal.

“Settlement payments must be viewed in a positive manner, not a negative manner. Repetition required to state the narrative,” Nater read from the minutes.

Pascale St-Onge, the federal minister of sport, speaks with reporters before question period in the foyer of the House of Commons on Tuesday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The Ontario MP told the committee he found “it deeply troubling that the organization is more concerned with shifting the narrative than actually meaningfully implementing change within this organization.”

Skinner, a lawyer by training, said the media was trying to turn the public against Hockey Canada and its leadership team by publishing stories critical of its handling of violent sexual assault in the sport.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather described Skinner’s efforts to blame the media and MPs for her organization’s woes as “Trump-like.”

Audit of spending approved

St. Onge has agreed to audit Hockey Canada’s finances over the past six years in response to allegations that the sports body’s directors availed themselves of high-cost hotels, dinners and jewelry.

Last month, NDP MP Peter Julian wrote to the minister asking her to “make sure that Hockey Canada uses government funds and hockey parents’ registration fees in an accountable and transparent manner.”

Questioned by Julian before the committee, Brind’Amour confirmed that championship rings for board members cost $3,000 each.

“I believe this is a situation that arises when our national teams have the good fortune to win a championship,”  Brind’Amour said.

MPs across party lines demand new leadership at Hockey Canada

 

Today, all parties grilled the interim chair of Hockey Canada’s board of directors, Andrea Skinner. Federal MPs, as well as Minister for Sport Pascale St-Onge are demanding change in the leadership of the organization, something Skinner said she has no plans to do.

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Canada’s immigration backlog has decreased to 2.2 million – Canada Immigration News

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Published on December 9th, 2022 at 08:00am EST

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Latest data from IRCC shows reduction in the backlog of applications

New data obtained from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reports that Canada’s immigration backlog has dropped to just over 2.2 million.

In an email to CIC News, IRCC provided updated data, which is current as of December 2.

The inventory across all lines of business has progressed as follows since July 2021:

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Current Inventories

The citizenship inventory stands at 314,630 applicants as of November 30, compared to 331,401 on October 31.

The permanent residence inventory stands at 512,342 people as of December 2, compared to 506,421 as of November 3.

Also on December 2, the temporary residence inventory stood at 1,416, 125 people, compared to 1,537,566 persons as of November 3.

Therefore, there were reductions in two of the three major categories, with the biggest reduction in the temporary residence inventory.

Immigration Category Persons as of December 2, 2022
Permanent Residence 512,342
Temporary Residence 1,416,125
Citizenship 314,630
Grand total 2,243,097

Express Entry and PNP inventories

As of December 2, there are 43,326 applications for Express Entry programs waiting in the queue, an increase of over 3,500 since November 3 data, which stood at 39,589.

Among the total people applying for Express Entry programs, there has been an increase of nearly 5,000 applications for the Canadian Experience Class over the past month.

IRCC resumed holding rounds of invitations for Express Entry candidates from all programs in July this year. Draws were limited to the candidates in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) between September 21, 2021 and July 6, 2022 due to IRCC struggling to meet its service standard of six months or less for Express Entry applications. The pause in Express Entry invitations to Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class  candidates enabled IRCC to reduce the Express Entry inventory and the department is back to its six month service standard for those who have received a permanent residence invitation since July 6.

The PNP has an inventory of 62,343 total applications (both base and enhanced combined).

Family class inventory

The inventory for all family class immigration programs has dropped slightly to 127,091 compared to November 3 when it was 128,112.

The Spouses and Partners sponsorship program is among the largest inventories among all lines of business, at 62,106, a minimal increase compared with November 3.

The Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) has an inventory of 53,770 persons compared to 55,653 persons waiting for decisions in November.

Service standards

IRCC’s webpage that tracks the total inventory of applications shows that as of October 31, 1.2 million applications are considered backlog.

Data from September 30 showed that there were 1.5 million applications in backlog, meaning that IRCC cleared over 350,000 applications from the backlog. This comes while the number of applications in inventory has risen for permanent residency.

An application in backlog means it has not been processed within service standards. These standards provide the expected timeline, or goal, for how long it should take to process an application. The service standard is different from the actual amount of time that IRCC takes to process applications. Applications not processed within the service standard for their program are categorized as backlog.

IRCC aims to process 80% of applications across all lines of business within service standards. The service standard varies depending on the type of application. For example, a permanent residence application through an Express Entry program has a standard of six months. It is longer for other economic class lines of business. IRCC states its service standard for spousal and child family class sponsorship is 12 months.

Temporary residence applications have service standards that range between 60-120 days depending on the type of application (work or study) and if it was submitted within Canada or from abroad.

Tackling the backlog

The department reports that between January and October 2022, they produced 4.3 million final decisions for permanent residents, temporary residents and citizenship compared to 2.3 million final decisions in the same period last year.

IRCC aims to have a less than 50% backlog across all lines of business by the end of March 2023. To help meet this goal, the department began the transition towards 100% digital applications for most permanent resident programs on September 23, with accommodations made for those who are unable to apply online.

This transition also includes citizenship applications, which are now 100% online for all applicants over the age of 18. IRCC is aiming to make all citizenship applications digital by the end of this year, including those for minors under 18.

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Canada Premiers to hold virtual news conference on struggling children’s hospitals

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Canada’s premiers plan to hold a news conference in Winnipeg today as children’s hospitals struggle to deal with a wave of child illnesses.

Hospitals across the country have been cancelling some surgeries and appointments as they redirect staff amid an increase in pediatric patients.

Admissions are surging under a triple-threat of respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and COVID-19 at a time when the health-care system is grappling with record numbers of job vacancies.

In Ottawa, two teams of Canadian Red Cross personnel are working rotating overnight shifts at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in support of its clinical-care team, while some patients have been redirected to adult health-care facilities.

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A pediatric hospice in Calgary has been temporarily closed as staff are diverted to a children’s hospital.

Members of the Alberta Medical Association have sent a letter to the province’s acting chief medical officer of health calling for stronger public health measures to prevent the spread of the illnesses, including increasing public messaging about the safety of vaccines, encouraging flu and COVID-19 vaccines, and temporarily requiring masks in schools.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.

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As nature talks unfold, here’s what ’30 by 30′ conservation could mean in Canada

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was unequivocal Wednesday when asked if Canada was going to meet its goal to protect one-quarter of all Canadian land and oceans by 2025.

“I am happy to say that we are going to meet our ’25 by 25′ target,” Trudeau said during a small roundtable interview with journalists on the sidelines of the nature talks taking place in Montreal.

That goal, which would already mean protecting 1.2 million more square kilometres of land, is just the interim stop on the way to conserving 30 per cent by 2030 — the marquee target Canada is pushing for during the COP15 biodiversity conference.

But what does the conservation of land or waterways actually mean?

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“When we talk about protecting land and water, we’re talking about looking at a whole package of actions across broader landscapes,” said Carole Saint-Laurent, head of forest and lands at the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The group’s definition of “protected area,” which is used by the UN convention on biodiversity, refers to a “clearly defined geographical space” that is managed by laws or regulations with the goal of the long-term protection of nature.

“It can range from areas with very strict protections to areas that are being protected or conserved,” said Saint-Laurent.

“We have to look at that entire suite of protective and restorative action in order to not only save nature, but to do so in a way that is going to help our societies. There is not one magical formula, and context is everything.”

The organization, which keeps its own global “green list” of conserved areas, lists 17 criteria for how areas can fit the definition.

Most of the criteria are centred on how the sites are managed and protected. One allows for resource extraction, hunting, recreation and tourism as long as these are both compatible with and supportive of the conservation goals outlined for the area.

In many cases, industrial activities and resource extraction are not allowed in protected areas. But that’s not always true in Canada, particularly when it involves the rights of Indigenous Peoples on their traditional territory.

In some provincial parks, mining and logging are allowed. In Ontario’s Algonquin Park, for example, logging is permitted in about two-thirds of the park area.

Canada has nearly 10 million square kilometres of terrestrial land, including inland freshwater lakes and rivers, and about 5.8 million square kilometres of marine territory.

As of December 2021, Canada had conserved 13.5 per cent of land and almost 14 per cent of marine territory. The government did it through a combination of national and provincial parks and reserves, wildlife areas, migratory bird sanctuaries, national marine conservation areas, marine protected areas and what are referred to as “other effective areas-based conservation measures.”

These can include private lands that have a management plan to protect and conserve habitats, or public or private lands where conservation isn’t the primary focus but still ends up happening.

Canadian Forces Base Shilo, in Manitoba, includes about 211 square kilometres of natural habitats maintained under an environmental protection plan run by the Department of National Defence.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is a non-profit organization that raises funds to buy plots of land from private owners with a view to long-term conservation.

Mike Hendren, its Ontario regional vice-president, said that on such lands, management plans can include everything from nature trails to hunting — but always with conservation as the priority.

To hit “25 by 25,” Canada must further protect more than 1.2 million square kilometres of land, or approximately the size of Manitoba and Saskatchewan added together. To get to 30 per cent is to add, on top of that, land almost equivalent in size to Alberta.

The federal government would need to protect another 638,000 square kilometres of marine territory and coastlines by 2025, or an area almost three times the size of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. By 2030, another area the size of the gulf would need to be added.

Trudeau said that in a country as big and diverse as Canada, hard and fast rules about what can and can’t happen in protected areas don’t make sense.

He said there should be distinctions between areas that can’t have any activity and places where you can mine, log or hunt, as long as it is done with conservation in mind.

“There’s ability to have sort of management plans that are informed by everyone, informed by science, informed by various communities, that say, ‘yes, we’re going to protect this area and that means, no, there’s not going to be unlimited irresponsible mining going to happen,'” he said.

“But it doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain projects in certain places that could be the right kind of thing, or the right thing to move forward on.”

The draft text of the biodiversity framework being negotiated at COP15 is not yet clear on what kind of land and marine areas would qualify or what conservation of them would specifically mean.

It currently proposes that a substantial portion of the conserved land would need to be “strictly protected” but some areas could respect the right to economic development.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.

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