Sports Minister to Launch 'Independent Mechanism' for Reviewing Abuse in Canadian Sports

Victoria Adkins/The Associated Press

   Canadian Minister of Sport, Carla Qualtrough, has revealed plans to announce a "formal, independent mechanism" next week to investigate systemic abuse and human rights violations in Canadian sports. The announcement was made at a UN forum in Switzerland, addressing persistent calls within Canada for a public inquiry into sports-related abuse.

In her speech at the Sporting Chance Forum in Geneva, Qualtrough outlined that the process would be trauma-informed, human rights-based, and forward-looking. The move comes amid accusations from elite athletes in various sports, alleging the federal government's failure to address abuse in sports adequately. Athletes and coaches have testified before House of Commons committees, urging a public inquiry. A parliamentary committee has also recommended such an inquiry into maltreatment in Canadian sports.

The initiative follows the footsteps of previous government responses to crises, where independent figures, such as retired Supreme Court justices, were appointed to review issues independently. For instance, during the military's sexual misconduct crisis, retired Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour was tasked with reviewing and releasing a report.

Notably, the minister did not provide details on the structure of the independent mechanism during her remarks in Geneva. However, she indicated that a "series of immediate actions" would be announced to address issues highlighted by abuse survivors in parliamentary committees. The announcement will also cover the future of Canada's abuse in safe sports programs and the role of the sport integrity commissioner. The move reflects an ongoing effort to address concerns and promote accountability within the Canadian sports community.