Tim Hortons, Scotiabank have rescinded their support of Hockey Canada. Yesterday the giant sports sponsor Nike pulled its support as well.
The government of Canada, sections of Hockey Canada branch offices, and other financial supporters of Hockey Canada have also walked away.
All of this over how Hockey Canada has treated sexual misconduct allegations. Every one of these groups that walks away is not only completely justified in doing so, but it puts the spotlight on Hockey Canada refusing to make changes that are being called for. It shines the light on just how far some people will go to retain power in an organization that has essentially admitted it cannot be trusted.
Now, the World Junior Championships being held in Halifax and Moncton could be in jeopardy.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters Friday that he’s been in talks with Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston and both provincial leaders are thinking about pulling the plug on hosting the hockey tournament at the end of the year, unless major changes are made by Hockey Canada.
New Brunswick had previously agreed as host to give $1.25 million in funding for the tournament, but no money has been provided yet. Higgs wants to see organizational changes made before the tournament ever gets underway.
Politicians are looking to Hockey Canada to implement meaningful changes within the organization prior to the world junior tournament. Hockey Canada is refusing calls for dismissal or resignations from its leadership. Some in Hockey Canada are simply refusing to talk, or claiming to have problems with their recollection of actions that took place or that they are responsible for.
Nova Scotia MP and cabinet minister Sean Fraser didn’t mince words Friday when he shared his anger with the hockey leadership and said he wants to see major changes governance structure at Hockey Canada.
“I think it’s absolutely disgusting what we’re seeing with Hockey Canada,” said Fraser. “If you can’t stand up for the mistreatment of women and then attempt in a clandestine way to hide the funding that’s now being used to pay settlements instead of fix the problems, then you’ve got big problems.”
In Manitoba, the sport’s provincial body issued a statement Thursday which reads: “Hockey Manitoba’s board of directors support the call by Members of Parliament for a change in Hockey Canada’s leadership at the senior staff level and board of directors.”
“Further, Hockey Manitoba calls for a review of the Hockey Canada Action Plan to include consultation from experts or organizations working in education, awareness and prevention of sexual violence, abuse, bullying, and discrimination.”
Experts say Hockey Canada’s “scorched-earth” response to criticism over its mishandling of alleged sexual assaults could sink the sport’s national governing body as we know it today.
“The logic of their entrenchment is beyond reason … it’s just mind-blowing,” said Paloma Raggo, a professor at Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration who teaches philanthropy and non-profit leadership.
Raggo said Hockey Canada’s bylaws include a mechanism where member organizations can call a special meeting to revoke individual board directors, and questioned why this mechanism hasn’t been used yet.
The rest of Canada and the hockey world are also beginning to wonder why this mechanism has not been used yet. One has to think that sooner or later it will be, and it may be the only way to save Hockey Canada as a governing body in its current existence.