Minister of Science, Sport and Persons with Disabilities Kirsty Duncan makes an announcement in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Legalities obstruct abuse-investigation body for amateur athletes

Over 200 coaches in Canada have been convicted of sexual abuse in the last 20 years

An outside body to investigate allegations of abuse and harassment in amateur sports is hung up on legalities, says Sports Minister Kirsty Duncan.

Last week, Duncan announced a new code of conduct for handling abuse allegations in sport, from community teams to national sports organizations, but critics say it’s toothless.

READ MORE: Coastal FC soccer coach suspended following allegations made in blog post

Cheryl Hardcastle, a Windsor, Ont., MP and the NDP critic for sport, has been calling for an independent investigative body for some time.

“We started out with mandates and codes of conduct and it’s not enough,” said Hardcastle. “It’s not that it’s not working, it’s that it’s not enough to follow through on the complexities of these issues. Some of these investigations that are having to be done by organizations, they’re not even really equipped to do them.”

Hardcastle said she thinks Canada should follow the lead of the United States, which has established the U.S. Center for SafeSport. The non-profit organization allows athletes in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movement to report sexual abuse, provides information on abuse-prevention techniques and policies, and keeps a public database of coaches and other sports figures disciplined for sexual misconduct.

In an emailed statement, Duncan wrote that a third-party mechanism for investigating complaints in Canada is in the works but “legal and jurisdictional issues” need to be considered and that her officials are working with provinces and territories.

Duncan also wrote that the outside body will eventually ”ensure all athletes can feel safe and confident in disclosing incidents of abuse and be assured their case will be given due process.”

Canadian Heritage spokesperson Daniel Savoie said in an email that the federal government already requires that all government-funded sports organizations allow for ”access to an independent third party to address harassment and abuse cases.”

But establishing that independent body for abuse allegations requires “support and collaboration between federal–provincial/territorial governments and the sport community,” wrote Savoie.

Like other provinces, Alberta has been in talks with the federal government about how to reduce abuse in sports and recently hosted Canada’s sports ministers at a conference in Red Deer. They discussed the possibility of “a mechanism to report and monitor incidents of harassment, abuse, and discrimination in sport,” wrote Marion Nadar, a spokesperson for Alberta’s culture ministry.

Nadar wrote that the ministry isn’t aware of any legal or jurisdictional obstacles that would prevent the creation of a third-party body to hear complaints.

The provincial ministry that handles sport in British Columbia referred questions on the issue to the federal government. Ontario’s ministry condemned abuse in sport and said that province is working on a sports action plan but didn’t answer questions about problems with a third-party investigative body.

Duncan’s announcement came shortly after a CBC investigation found over 200 coaches in Canada have been convicted of sexual abuse in the last 20 years and another 34 cases involving coaches are before the courts.

Danielle Edwards, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Two-car crash on road to Golden Ears park

Female driver taken by ambulance; traffic diverted on route to provincial park in Maple Ridge.

Being Young: Letting spring in

Are we biased against spring?

Mad Hatters Parade and Tea Party in Maple Ridge

Event to end stigma surrounding mental illness

Pitt Meadows Foundation chooses its citizen of the year

Peter Jongbloed has been active at city hall and with environmental causes

Pitt Meadows Day fireworks show gets $15,000 infusion

Fundraiser by community groups nets over $22,000

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Structure fire destroys Surrey tire shop

RCMP have closed Fraser Highway down to traffic from 152 Street to 88 Avenue

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Multi-vehicle collision on highway in Chilliwack

Accident involves several vehicles, in the westbound lanes says Drive BC

Man dies after being hit by car in East Vancouver

The driver involved is cooperating with police

Most Read