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With its leadership gone, what’s next for Hockey Canada?

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Most of the major sponsors are gone — at least for now. The CEO and entire board of directors are stepping down. And the organization’s reputation is in tatters.

How can Hockey Canada be rebuilt as an effective and trusted governing body for one of the country’s most popular sports?

The solution, experts say, starts with the rather mundane (but crucial) task of selecting a new board.

“They just need to broaden where they’re looking for people to come in, and that will help them rebuild this brand,” said Paloma Raggo, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s school of public policy and administration.

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She says an organization the size of Hockey Canada needs experts who understand how a non-profit should operate, rather than simply having a passion for the sport.

The outgoing board, in her view, didn’t know about or chose not to use the powers it had to police the organization, which might have helped prevent so much scandal.

Composite illustration featuring outgoing Hockey Canada board members: from top left to right: CEO Scott Smith, Terry Engen, Kirk Lamb and John Neville. From bottom left to right: Barry Reynard, Bobby Sahni, Mary Anne Veroba and Goops Wooldridge. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press, HockeyCanada.ca)

“We’re talking about one of the most important — if not the most important — sport in our country and a sport that deals with minors … families that bring their kids at five in the morning and the hockey rink. So people do care about what happens to the organization,” she said.

Assembling new leadership also gives Hockey Canada an opportunity to carve a path as a leader in the sports world, says Sheldon Kennedy, a victims rights advocate and former NHL player. Hockey Canada has been under scrutiny over how it handled an alleged group sexual assault involving members of the 2018 men’s national junior team.

Other similar allegations have surfaced, and Hockey Canada executives revealed the organization had paid $8.9 million in settlements to 21 sexual assault complainants since 1989, using a slush fund fed in part by membership fees from young players.

Kennedy says the organization must play a role in ensuring hockey is an inclusive sport from the grassroots level on up.

“Every time that a family, a young child — a young boy, a young girl — shows up at the rink, they have to be able to want to be coming back to that rink the next day,” he told CBC News Network.

“This is about creating a healthy sport, this is about creating a healthy game, and I think we can get to the place where we can all be proud of this game again.”

Sport minister says she ‘welcomes’ Hockey Canada CEO’s resignation

Pascale St-Onge told reporters that the federal government is going to work with Hockey Canada to rebuild it after the organization announced that CEO Scott Smith and the entire board of directors resigned.

Hockey Canada functions as an umbrella organization for 13 member branches — many of which have also distanced themselves or cut ties — and establishes guidelines for hockey across the country. It also arranges for national teams to play in international tournaments.

Kennedy says the organization serves an important role, but that day-to-day activities at rinks across the country will go on while Hockey Canada sorts itself out.

“As far as minor hockey across our country, it’s going to run for the season,” said Kennedy, whose name has been floated as a candidate for a leadership role, along with others such as former player Hailey Wickenheiser.

Regaining sponsors

As for the sponsors — Nike, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire, Esso and Telus, among others have cut ties with Hockey Canada or withdrawn funding for men’s hockey for the season.

Bauer on Tuesday also paused a multi-million-dollar commitment as the official equipment provider to the Hockey Canada men’s teams.

That company’s vice-president of marketing said the board resignations announced earlier that day were a step in the right direction, but that Bauer wants to see a greater focus on grassroots hockey rather than big international events.

“We really need to get more people into the game and it’s clear that what’s happening today is not meeting with people’s expectations,” said Mary-Kay Messier on CBC’s Power & Politics.

Elizabeth Watson, an expert in board governance and founder of the Vancouver-based consultancy Watson, says restoring trust among the public and corporate sponsors will be a challenge — but achievable.

She says many Canadians with the necessary skills would be willing to work on the board, which is an unpaid role.

Transparency and clear objectives will also help bring back the sponsors that have jumped ship, she says.

“You have to recruit people with the utmost credibility, reputation for integrity and for getting things done so that the donors and sponsors will trust that this group will handle the resources that they’re provided with in an appropriate way,” she said.

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B.C. finance minister replaced in Premier David Eby’s new-look cabinet

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B.C. Premier David Eby to reveal new cabinet with health, safety, housing priorities

British Columbia Premier David Eby has unveiled a new-look cabinet that includes eight first-time ministers and removes Selina Robinson from the finance ministry.

Former forests minister Katrine Conroy takes over the finance portfolio, while Robinson moves to post-secondary education and future skills.

Robinson announced just last month that the NDP government had a surplus windfall of $5.7 billion dollars, allowing Eby to spend on his priorities of housing, health care and public safety.

The highest-profile appointment among the crop of newcomers goes to Niki Sharma, who takes over from Eby as attorney general.

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Sharma, who was previously Parliamentary secretary for community development and non-profits, had tears in her eyes Wednesday as she received a standing ovation at the Government House ceremony, where the ministers were sworn in by Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin.

“Our cabinet represents the diversity of our province,” said Eby, who took over as premier from John Horgan on Nov. 18. “Together they are a strong team. They are going to take on the big challenges facing our province.”

Eby described Conroy as “rural tough,” and says he chose her for finance because he has worked with her for a decade.

“British Columbians want her on their side,” Eby said of Conroy, who represents Kootenay West in B.C.’s southeast.

He cited her as having a background in agriculture, adding “she’s a hunter and she is tough.”

Eby would not categorize Robinson as having been demoted and said she will have an important role in ensuring institutions prepare students for challenging economic times.

He also said Robinson would use her experience in the business and non-profit sectors to bring success to her new ministry.

Eby said he couldn’t be more excited about getting down to work, and sought to quell suggestions of an early election, ahead of the scheduled vote in October 2024.

“I don’t know how many times I can say it, I am committed to a fixed election date for B.C.,” he said.

Ravi Kahlon, who was co-chair of Eby’s leadership campaign, will take on the new Housing Ministry.

Bowinn Ma will be the minister of emergency management and climate readiness, while Rachna Singh, a former Parliamentary secretary, is elevated to cabinet as the education minister.

The other newcomers include Pam Alexis in agriculture, minister of state for child care Grace Lore, Jobs Minister Brenda Bailey, minister of state for trade Jagrup Brar, minister of state for workforce development Andrew Mercier, and minister of state for infrastructure and transit Dan Coulter.

Eby said his ministers were a strong team ready to take on big challenges.

“They’re accepting this responsibility at a time when we’re facing significant head winds. Global inflation is driving up costs of essentials for families, like groceries. Global economic uncertainty is raising anxiety, health care systems across Canada are under strain, and B.C. is no exception.”

Those keeping their jobs include Adrian Dix in health, George Heyman with environment, Mitzi Dean as the minister of children and family development, Rob Fleming in transport and Harry Bains in Labour.

Deputy premier Mike Farnworth also remains the solicitor general and minister in charge of public safety.

Exiting cabinet are George Chow who held the trade portfolio, Nicholas Simons from social development, and Katrina Chen from child care.

Chen released a statement on Tuesday saying she had asked not to be considered for cabinet as she concentrated on recovering from long-term trauma suffered because of gender-based violence, including as a child.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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Quebec’s auditor finds Education Department ill-prepared for pivot to online learning

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Quebec‘s auditor general says the province’s Education Department was ill-prepared when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to shutter in March 2020 and it still does not have a complete picture of the learning delays that resulted.

Guylaine Leclerc expresses concern in her audit of the Education Department that the lack of data won’t permit for effective remedial measures, meaning some students could drop out and be deprived of a diploma.

Her report says it’s not irreversible, but it’s important to know where students are struggling to be able to put appropriate measures in place.

The report also finds the province was slow to provide school boards, known as service centres in Quebec, with guidance on the minimum educational services to be offered in the spring of 2020, which led to widely different offerings depending on the school district.

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Many service centres also did not have the necessary computers to pivot to online education, and for some that situation persisted 18 months into the pandemic.

Leclerc was also critical of the department’s purchase of $42 million in video-conferencing equipment that remains largely unused.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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Bob Rae heads to Haiti in attempt at political consensus, amid possible intervention

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Canada is trying to dislodge a political impasse in Haiti by sending one of its top diplomats to Port-au-Prince.

Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, started an in-person push for negotiations Wednesday.

Haiti is facing a series of crises as armed gangs block access to fuel and essentials, leading to water and power outages that are worsening a cholera outbreak.

The Haitian government has asked for a foreign military to intervene and push out the gangs, but opponents argue that might only prolong an unpopular government in a country that has not had elections since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canada might be part of an intervention, but only if there is a consensus across Haiti’s fractured political scene.

Rae’s three-day visit will include talks with politicians, grassroots groups and United Nations officials on how Canada could play a role in what the Liberals say would be “Haitian-led solutions.”

Defence Minister Anita Anand gave no sense of what that might look like.

“We are making sure to be prudent in this situation,” she told reporters Wednesday.

“We are studying those contributions, potential contributions, and we will have more to say on that in short order.”

This fall, Canada has sanctioned 11 prominent Haitians over alleged ties to gangs, sent military vehicles to the country, and had Trudeau’s former national security adviser conduct an assessment mission.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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