(Ottawa) The three opposition parties in the House of Commons have in turn criticized the Trudeau government for putting the cart before the horse by restoring funding to Hockey Canada.
“They’re not there yet, Hockey Canada. They currently have 90 million in their bank account. […] They have made progress, but there is still a lot of work to do. It was just premature,” Tory MP and former sports commentator Kevin Waugh said on Monday as he arrived in the House of Commons.
Mr. Waugh, who says he is “totally surprised” by Ottawa’s decision, believes that Hockey Canada should have waived confidentiality agreements with alleged gang rape victims in order to receive federal funds, agreements that should be banned in all sports organizations in the country.
On Sunday, Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge announced that Hockey Canada is back in the government’s good graces as its three conditions have been met, including becoming a full signatory to Sport Sans Abuse and the Office of the Integrity in Sport (BCIS).
Hockey Canada also had to review and implement the recommendations of an independent governance review, led by retired judge Thomas Cromwell, as well as commit to reporting more frequently to Ottawa.
Questioned by reporters on Monday, the minister explained that she makes decisions “based on the well-being of the athletes” and that “the goal has never been to destabilize the Hockey Canada organization forever”. She said she instead wanted to send a signal to senior management that she no longer has the government’s trust.
As for confidentiality agreements, Ms. St-Onge says the government is looking into it and “not just for Hockey Canada, but for all sports organizations that are supported by the federal government”.
The Bloc Québécois believes that Ottawa should have waited for an independent public inquiry – unanimously demanded by the House of Commons – and a report from the committee on the status of women.
“It feels rushed to me. […] If we want to bring back a healthy and safe sports culture in Canada, we must be able to fully shed light on the various alleged facts,” said Bloc Sports spokesperson Sébastien Lemire.
According to him, Hockey Canada hasn’t demonstrated “a profound culture change in four months” since the organization elected a new board of directors after the previous one resigned en masse and became mired in scandals. , being accused of having tried to protect players who participated in gang rapes.
Ottawa’s decision comes at “a funny time,” added Andréanne Larouche, the Bloc’s spokesperson for Status of Women and Gender Equality, who sits on a parliamentary committee preparing recommendations. for the Minister of Sport, particularly regarding Hockey Canada.
“We did the study. The report is coming. We should have waited for this report, she said sorry. The victims expressed their doubt [about the BCIS], the limits of that office. And even, it’s not nothing, two thirds of the complaints that are rejected, it means that the victims do not have confidence. »
New Conservative Party MP Peter Julian also called Ottawa’s decision “premature” especially since Hockey Canada “promised” to waive confidentiality agreements with the alleged victims and did “nothing”. “.
“And here we see today that they are receiving a reward award from the Government of Canada that restores the funding, even though all the obligations and all the promises that Hockey Canada has made have not been fulfilled”, s is he insurgent.
According to him, Ottawa sends the following message: “make promises as you want, you are not bound to fulfill these obligations and the federal government will fund you anyway”.
In the morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained that he looks at the whole thing as a parent whose “one son who has been playing hockey for several years and another who could well get into it”.
“We need to know they are safe. We need to know that the mentality has changed, that the culture is being addressed,” he insisted in an English response.
Trudeau said the government made Hockey Canada “extremely clear” expectations before re-funding it.
“They have shown a real desire to move forward, but we will continue to be extremely vigilant to ensure that they continue to be worthy of the trust that millions of Canadians place in them as we encourage our kids to play sports and specifically hockey,” he added.