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Hockey Canada Continues To Lose Sponsors As Hockey Nova Scotia Suspends Transfer of Fees

Major sponsors and three regional hockey federations are withdrawing their support of Hockey Canada. Ian Kennedy reports on the reaction and next steps.
Hockey Canada

Update: Hockey Nova Scotia joins Hockey Quebec and the Ontario Hockey Federation in not wanting $3 participant assessment fees to go to Hockey Canada.

Like Hockey Quebec, the Nova Scotia organization will formally suspend fees to Hockey Canada for the 2022-23 season.

"Until our values at Hockey Nova Scotia are reflected by Hockey Canada's senior leadership, we simply cannot support hockey's national governing body," the organization said in a statement.

Hockey Nova Scotia's board of directors met Thursday for an emergency meeting before coming to the decision.

Meanwhile, Hockey NL and Hockey New Brunswick both said they continue to participate in the independent review of Hockey Canada's governance structures, led by former Supreme Court of Canada justice Thomas Cromwell. 

 


It appears the latest hearing held by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage did not sit well with the Canadian public nor with Hockey Canada’s major sponsors. Following Tuesday’s hearing, Tim Hortons, Scotiabank, and Telus announced they would no longer be supporting men’s hockey under the Hockey Canada umbrella.

Thursday, two additional major sponsors joined the group as Chevrolet/GM and Canadian Tire provided statements about its future involvement, or lack thereof, with Hockey Canada.

“After careful consideration, Canadian Tire Corporation has made the decision to end its partnership with Hockey Canada," the statement said. "In our view, Hockey Canada continues to resist meaningful change and we can no longer confidently move forward together.”

Although it will no longer fund Hockey Canada, Canadian Tire is not ending funding to the sport of hockey. In fact, the company plans to divert sponsorship funds to organizations supporting equity and safety in the game. One of those organizations is the Respect Group, which is headed by former NHLer and sexual assault survivor Sheldon Kennedy.

“The Respect Group, which is focused on preventing bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination, is one of many organizations where funds will be diverted," the statement said. "We are committed to supporting hockey and sport that is inclusive and safe for all Canadians."

Chevrolet echoed Canadian Tire’s statement, distancing itself from Hockey Canada.

“We at GM have no tolerance for abuse of any kind and wish to see Hockey Canada return to setting a positive example for all Canadians in all it does,” Chevrolet said in a statement.

Not only are sponsors pulling funds, but provincial bodies including Hockey Quebec and the Ontario Hockey Federation also announced they do not want Hockey Canada to receive the $3 per player membership fee typically sent to the national body for business operations. The Ontario Hockey Federation requested to Hockey Canada that it's not collected while Hockey Quebec voted to withhold the fee.

While sponsorship and membership dollars continue to fall, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for the fall of Hockey Canada itself.

“There needs to be wholesale change, they need to do it, they need to realize that if we have to create an organization — get rid of Hockey Canada — and create an organization called Canada Hockey instead, people will look at doing that,” he told reporters in Ottawa.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Hockey Canada continued to resist significant change, including any removal of the board of directors or CEO Scott Smith.

“Our board frankly does not share the view that senior leadership should be replaced on the basis of what we consider to be substantial misinformation and unduly cynical attacks,” said Andrea Skinner, current interim chair of Hockey Canada’s board of directors.

With another round of hearings being planned, likely later this month, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will continue to seek answers from Hockey Canada. Slated to appear next is former Hockey Canada CEO Bob Nicholson who was the head of the organization from 1998 until 2014.

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