Tim Hortons pulls sponsorship of Hockey Canada, Hockey Quebec withholds funding


Hockey Quebec says it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will not transfer funds to the national organization, while a well-known Canadian brand extended its sponsorship boycott.

Hockey Quebec confirmed to The Canadian Press that its board of directors adopted a motion Tuesday night stating that it does not believe the current structure of Hockey Canada can change the culture of hockey. The resolution was first reported by La Presse.

The provincial hockey body has also decided to keep the portion of the entry fees normally given to the national organization, which amounts to $3 per entry.

Additionally, Tim Hortons announced Wednesday that it will not sponsor any men’s Hockey Canada programming this season, including the men’s junior world championships in Halifax and Moncton.

The company, which first suspended its sponsorship in June, says it will continue to fund national women’s and para hockey programs, as well as youth hockey.

The Ontario Hockey Federation, the largest of Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial hockey associations, has asked Hockey Canada for the second time to waive the $3 participant evaluation fee from its members for the 2022-23 season. .

OHF CEO Phillip McKee told CP his federation made the same request in July to former Hockey Canada board chairman Michael Brind’Amour.

“We now understand that this request was never addressed to the board prior to his departure,” the OHF said in a statement.

Brind’Amour resigned from his post on August 6. Andrea Skinner took over as interim chairman of the board.

Canadian Press contacted provincial hockey associations in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba for their reaction to Hockey Quebec’s resolution. Only Hockey Saskatchewan responded with a “no comment” response.

Hockey Canada continues to vigorously defend its leadership amid criticism over its handling of the alleged sexual assaults and the way money was paid in the lawsuits.

Two recent allegations involve players from the 2018 and 2003 Canadian junior men’s teams. Those allegations have not been proven in court.

The revelations also included Hockey Canada’s admission that it relied on lower hockey registration fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims.

Brind’Amour and Skinner were questioned by members of Parliament on Tuesday about why there have been no overall changes in Hockey Canada’s leadership. Both continued to endorse CEO and Chairman Scott Smith.

Hockey Quebec’s move was applauded by Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge, who called for a change in leadership at Hockey Canada.

“It also sends the message to the organization’s leaders who are holding on to their jobs that Hockey Canada doesn’t belong to them,” St-Onge told reporters in Ottawa. “It also belongs to its members, and they want a change. They want a culture change and they want to fight against sexual violence.

“As Hockey Canada leaders hang on to their jobs, voting members need to clean house.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “it’s amazing that Hockey Canada is still going strong” as more Canadians lose faith in it.

“It is not surprising that provincial organizations are questioning whether or not they want to continue to support an organization that does not understand the seriousness of the situation it has helped to cause,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

Hockey Canada has been under fire since May when it was revealed it settled a lawsuit with a woman who alleged eight players on the 2018 junior men’s hockey team sexually assaulted her at a June gala event in London, Ontario that year.

The allegation is the subject of three investigations by London police, the National Hockey League and Hockey Canada.

Ontario Conservative MP John Nater said Smith and Hockey Canada’s senior management must leave to see meaningful change in the organization.

“Right now, we have to put pressure on the organization,” Nater said Wednesday before entering his party’s weekly caucus meeting.

“Lobby all 13 voting members to make sure there’s a board in place that will make those significant changes at the top.”

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh added that Hockey Canada has the money to weather the current scandal for years to come.

“It’s going to be up to the sponsors, I think now,” Waugh said.

Sports marketing expert Tom Mayenknecht said Hockey Canada’s defensive posture makes it difficult for the national body to retain public and corporate trust.

“This is a series of poor decisions and mishandling, in my opinion, that I’m not sure if Hockey Canada hasn’t already crossed that line, again, given the public sentiment and even the members’ sentiment that I’m hearing a grassroots level,” Mayenknecht told The Canadian Press.

“I’m not so sure they can fully regain confidence without doing a lot more than they already have.”

In July it was revealed that Hockey Canada paid $7.6 million in nine settlements related to sexual assault and sexual abuse claims dating back to 1989.

The figure does not include this year’s payment of an undisclosed sum to the London plaintiff, who had sued for more than $3.5 million.

Since the Hockey Canada deal was made public in the spring, Halifax police have been asked to investigate an alleged sexual assault by members of the 2003 junior men’s team.

The federal government froze federal funding for Hockey Canada and several companies suspended their sponsorship in June.

Brind’Amour said Tuesday that Smith has “the qualities necessary to do something positive for the organization.” Skinner, meanwhile, said culture change can occur while maintaining leadership stability.

Western University School of Kinesiology Director Laura Misener says Hockey Canada’s reluctance to change its organizational structure shows a lack of understanding of what is needed when trying to protect the sport.

“I think there are two things going on there: One, there’s a level of protectionism. Wanting to protect the sport that they believe in, that they really value, that there’s something important about protecting that sport,” Misener said. . “I think that is happening on one side and why they want to stay in their positions.

“Two, I think there’s a real misunderstanding of what culture change (and) culture change requires.”

— With files from Frederic Daigle in Montreal, Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa, and Abdulhamid Ibrahim in Toronto.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 5, 2022.

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