Sport Canada reveals itself to be a powerless federal ATM for athletic activities, little more

Yes, it determines how much money the machine spits out—that is, how much national sports organizations get—but we now know it can’t even do that responsibly.

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Sport Canada is not in charge of sport in Canada. Not in any practical sense.

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As we learned on Tuesday, basically, this is our federal ATM for sports.

Yes, it determines which cash the machine raises—that is, who gets how much—but we now know it can’t even do that responsibly.

Sports Canada’s top bureaucrats admitted to the crowd Tuesday the first of two days of testimony before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa, which has been fueled by Hockey Canada’s sex scandals.

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Look, it takes a certain level of incompetence to run for office as one of the most incompetent, inefficient government bureaucracies in Canada. This is quite embarrassing. Sport Canada, though, just got a Secretariat-sized lead.

In fact, one of Sport Canada’s top officials — Michel Roist, senior director of programs — matter-of-factly, and without a trace of discernible remorse or embarrassment, told the nation on Tuesday that his organization’s sole purpose was, essentially, simply To serve. Federal Government Sports Funding Junction Box. good

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Tennis? You get so much money. Got another national tournament this year? You get a little bit more. Same with sailing. And golf. And baseball. And football. and athletics. And every other sport under the sun that receives federal funding.

Including hockey.

Any viewer of Tuesday’s hearing concluded that that was it. The distribution of taxpayer money is all Sport Canada really controls in Canadian sports.

In reality, its mandate is not so limited. Officially, according to Sport Canada’s website, the organization’s programs aim to “support our sport system at the national level, provide financial support to our high-performance athletes, support Canada’s sport policy objectives. To advance, and support Canadian organizations to host, sporting events that create opportunities for Canadians to compete nationally and internationally.

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So, yes, while there is some well-intentioned policy being made at Sport Canada, we’re just learning that enforcing it all is toothless. Or any of that, really. So, it’s effectively really just a national sports ATM.

One of the heads of our nation’s sports funding Plinko Board was Roist, who admitted that all of Sport Canada, in particular, the various independently run, not-for-profit, national sports organizations ( Determines and distributes federal funding to NSOs. And while Sport Canada does indeed have high-minded, righteous caveats for any NSO seeking such federal funding, Roist admits its bureaucracy lacks a mechanism. There is nothing — nothing — to make sure, or ever double-check, that any sports governing body, not just hockey, actually enforces them.

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Programs we all thought were set in stone.

The programs were ostensibly meant to prevent, for example, a repeat of the tragic coach child sexual assaults of a quarter-century ago, which counted Sheldon Kennedy among the unfortunate victims.

The programs were ostensibly meant to stem decades of toxic junior hockey culture in the country.

Spelling it out for all of us on Tuesday, Roist emphasized the need to at least change the name of Sport Canada to something like the Canadian Sports Funding Office, and at most, Sport. Questioned the need for Canada to exist. In its current incarnation.

Our nation’s top sports officials basically admit that they are like the parents who brag to the neighborhood about their strict house discipline, insisting that their child obey his friends. Can’t go out together unless he first explains the destruction of his bedroom—but, later lets him out anyway, despite the mountains of dirty clothes and food wrappers on his bedroom floor. Shrugs, “Well, I couldn’t do anything about it.”

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Of course there was. Grounding the child. Or in the case of Sport Canada, denial of funding.

It was truly surprising to hear Royest, under pressured questions, finally admit that there is “no mechanism” in place at Sport Canada to ensure the dictates of his superior mind — aimed at the country. I want to prevent bad or offensive behavior in sports circles. performed.

Whether all NSOs perform them, or none, Sport Canada wants us to know it has no way of knowing. wonderful.

That’s why, until recent weeks, he poured money through all the channels of his trusty junction box.

“Sports Canada is not a regulatory agency,” Sport Minister Pascal St. Onge reminded us all during his testimony. Rather, he said, it is primarily a funding agency that has not, at least so far, investigated recipient NSOs for compliance with funding-dependent policy.

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We also learned Tuesday that although Roist said he was allegedly assaulted by at least eight junior-age hockey players (at a hotel where a Hockey Canada Foundation event was held in June 2018) But learn some details of gang rape right away. Knowledge that the information was never passed on to a succession of sports ministers before TSN covered up the incident last spring.

Lead some sports, eh?

For decades, Sport Canada has loved to be seen as the epitome of our nation’s sporting excellence – a fingerprint scanner that wore a ‘C’ over its heart, and aimed to find the right fixes. As a shocked nation reacted in the latest fury. A sports scandal that rocked the country, going back at least as far as the Ben Johnson steroids bombshell at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Summer Games.

Only now are we learning that Sport Canada has never been anywhere near this powerful. Or powerful. Or righteous. Or, should I say, sincere.

For Hockey Canada, we can pretty much expect that new and better leadership, a new and better governance structure with more accountability, a new and better mission, and a new name are surely coming soon.

The same should apply to Sport Canada.

JoKryk@postmedia.com

@JohnKryk

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