MONTREAL – Canada has the dubious honor of being nominated for the “Despicable Award” from the Center for Sports Integrity at the University of New Haven, Connecticut, for its refusal to hold a public inquiry into abuse in sport , as the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party have been demanding for months.
This prize will be awarded this Thursday by Rosemarie Aquilina, the American judge who convicted Larry Nassar of sexual assault against several gymnasts in the United States. Judge Aquilina testified before the Heritage Committee in the Commons last June to encourage Canada to launch a judicial investigation into the abuses revealed in certain sports federations, in the wake of the scandal of the cover-up of sexual assaults by Hockey Canada.
In addition to Canada, PGA Tour directors in the golf world are also nominated for having reached an agreement with the competing LIV circuit of Saudi Arabia without warning the players or the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. ., whose support they had nevertheless obtained to oppose the creation of the Saudi circuit.
The third nomination for this unenviable prize targets criminals based in the Balkans who have set up a veritable network of fixing sporting events on all continents.
“It made us smile”
“It made us smile,” admitted Bloc MP Sébastien Lemire, who is leading the issue of abuse in sport for political training in the communes. This news allows us to bring to the forefront a very formal commitment from Minister St-Onge (Pascale St-Onge, former Minister of Sports, now Minister of Heritage) on behalf of the Government of Canada to launch, launch a public and independent inquiry into abuse in sport to finally make sport healthy and safe for our children.”
He recalls that following the scandal that shook Hockey Canada, “there were so many Canadian sports federations that came out to denounce situations of mistreatment that athletes experienced in several sporting disciplines.”
According to him, despite “a certain empathy” demonstrated by the Trudeau government, it “continued to turn a deaf ear and never took action”, although the first scandals were revealed more than a year ago. of a year and a half.
A promise that drags
It has now been four months since Minister St-Onge promised an investigation, the terms of which she had still not specified at the time, a promise which her successor in Sports, Carla Qualtrough, has not yet followed up on. more .
“She must take action,” insists Sébastien Lemire. But four months later, we feel that it is no longer in the government’s plans.” He criticizes Ms. Qualtrough for having implied in her various public interventions “that she is going in another direction and that people do not have to worry about that. For me, hearing this, and many groups of athletes too, makes us particularly worried.
Under these conditions, even if a public inquiry has been promised, “this inaction at this moment effectively becomes for me a refusal to act”, as the wording of Canada’s nomination for the “Despicable Prize” criticizes.
“While we are thinking about how to do or not do this investigation, there are people who are suffering. There are people who gave such vibrant testimony, both during the various hearings of the status of women and heritage committees,” he argues.
Minister Qualtrough’s office had not yet responded to requests from The Canadian Press to clarify its intentions at the time of writing.
The most deserving
This “Despicable Prize” is a counterpart to the more coveted “Noble Objective to Promote Integrity in Sport” prize set by the University of New Haven. Three athletes are nominated for this award, namely the football player Vinicius Junior, from Real Madrid, who dressed alone to face a hostile foul from thousands of supporters shouting racist quotients.
Tennis player Martina Navratilova, winner of the most grand slam titles in history and campaigner for fairness for women in sport, is also nominated, as is human rights activist and pitcher alert Malcolm Bidali, who was imprisoned in Qatar after revealing the serious abuses of rights experienced by workers who participated in the construction of the football World Cup facilities in that country.
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