Former sports minister Kirsty Duncan doesn’t trust hockey in Canada

TORONTO — As a former gymnast who saw the dark side of sport, Kirsty Duncan’s mission was to eradicate abuse in Canadian sport.

Duncan, who served as federal minister of sports from 2015 to 2019, said he was upset that Hockey Canada or Sports Canada had not informed him of sexual assault allegations against members of his junior hockey team in 2018. Admitted.

She added that Hockey Canada doesn’t have the confidence to clean up its sport, especially if the same people continue to helm the organization.

“If you look at hockey, they’ve been failing for 30 years,” the former minister said. I would like to ask about your efforts. Then we learn a lot. The turning point should have been after Sheldon Kennedy (who was abused by coach Graham James at junior level).

“Has Hockey Canada changed? The answer is no. I think they played on the edge. They did things here and there. Why is it different this time, especially since the leading group is the same?

Duncan spoke to the Canadian Press a day after publishing an open letter in The Globe and Mail about the crisis in hockey and Canadian sports. There was still emotion in his voice.

She writes about her experience in a sport that has risen to the spotlight, as more than 500 gymnasts across Canada seek independent research into their sport.

“I personally know what it’s like to be told to eat jelly, laxatives, and toilet paper to keep your weight down, and to be repeatedly and verbally abused by coaches, judges, and parents.

“I’ll talk to you about the judges,” she added in a phone interview Friday. I told her up front I must have been 11 or 12 years old.

Duncan, an Etobicoke North Member of Parliament, recalled that he devoted most of his life to sports and after finishing his career as an athlete, he became a coach and judge to protect the next generation.

“I did everything in my power to make the sport safe,” she said.

When she wanted to develop a sports safety programme, including 13 sports safety summits across the country, the creation of a universal code of conduct, a helpline, a panel of experts on the subject, and a research center on gender equality, many I said I faced an obstacle. .

She now believes that all sports need to enter a period of reflection.

“Everyone has a role to play in this. Everyone has to do their part,” she said.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Duncan added. Schools have an obligation to report incidents. It doesn’t exist in sports. (…) I cannot close my eyes. I can’t say I’ve seen or heard of it. Are you going to make me believe that no one in Hockey Canada has seen a pattern in all these years?”

Duncan, who has served as minister for sports and science, said the federal government must have the necessary funding and a large specialized department to make sports a priority.

“Because we are talking about young people, about the future of the country, we have to get off to the best possible start,” she said.