— Published 2 June 2023

A national investigation into abuse and harassment

In Canada, people are mobilising to combat abuse and harassment in sport. But it is leaving the sporting movement behind. Reuters reports that more than two dozen organisations, including Human Rights Watch, Scholars Against Abuse in Canadian Sport and Global Athlete, have co-signed a letter to the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, calling on him to launch a national enquiry into this scourge that has become national in scope. “On behalf of thousands of Canadian athletes, we ask you to exercise your powers as the leader of this country to protect every child, every young person and every elite athlete…”, insists the document, also published on social networks. At the beginning of May, federal sports minister Pascale St-Onge announced a series of reforms aimed at making sports federations more accountable, but the signatories of the letter believe that much more now needs to be done. Among other things, the reforms stipulate that non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), or non-denigration clauses, can no longer be used to prevent athletes from revealing the abuse they have suffered. They also require national sports federations to publish the minutes of board meetings on their websites. Over the past twelve months, cases of abuse and harassment have multiplied in Canadian sport. Rosemarie Aquilina, the American judge who sentenced American doctor Larry Nassar to life imprisonment, expressed her support for Canadian athletes on her Twitter account. “My message: Canada must launch an independent national enquiry”, she wrote.