Tue, January 31, 2023

Scholars call on Trudeau to launch independent inquiry into sports in Canada

Scholars call on Trudeau to launch independent inquiry into sports in Canada

Canadian and international scholars have written a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for an independent inquiry into sports in Canada. 

The letter was signed by 91 individuals from 41 educational institutions and says “The government must appoint a third party to conduct a proper, thorough, trauma-sensitive investigation into the systemic failure of the nation’s sport system.”

Western University professor Mac Ross spearheaded the Scholars Against Abuse in Canadian Sport letter and said “There needs to be something that digs deeper and looks more at the preventative side of things. We have human rights experts, law experts, board experts, sociologists, historians. People looking at this through different lenses than the government might be and coming to very different conclusions obviously than the government has.”

Sports sociologist Cheryl MacDonald said “We’re not lacking reasons or examples as to why this is important right now. Perhaps they’re (the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC)) a little bit too close at the moment, and in this specific case, maybe it’s time to branch out a little more and get a different perspective.”

The letter continues: "The establishment of the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC) in June 2022 is not a solution.

"Without complete independence from Canada's sport authorities, the OSIC will always lack the powers necessary to resolve this crisis.”

Trudeau is yet to respond to the letter but MPs have publicly voiced their support for the calls to launch an independent inquiry. 

Canada was rocked last year by scandals across many sports that not only exposed abusive coaches but also institutional mismanagement of abuse by national sporting organizations. Among a long list of revelations across many sports:

  • Hockey Canada used player registration fees for a secret fund to settle sexual assault cases
  • Gymnastics Canada had its government funding frozen after widespread allegations of abuse
  • Rowing Canada Aviron and Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton are two other governing bodies under scrutiny for safety and culture failings
  • An investigation into how Canada Soccer managed sexual harassment allegations against a national team coach later convicted of sexual assault revealed legal advice recommended not disclosing the true reasons for his exit
  • Water Polo Canada faces a lawsuit from former players alleging physical, psychological, and emotional abuse, sexual harassment and mental suffering


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