A recently retired kinesiology professor is calling for a judicial inquiry into abuse in Canadian sport, launching an online petition to be presented in the House of Commons.
Victoria Paraschak said she hopes to collect at least 500 signatures before March 12 so her petition can be presented to the federal government by local MP Brian Masse.
“There are widespread reports of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse throughout Canadian sport,” said Dr. Paraschak. “Everyone in sport, from children to elite athletes, should have the right to participate without abuse and harm.”
Paraschak’s petition comes after 91 academics calling themselves Scholars Against Abuse in Canadian Sport wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in January calling for an independent public inquiry. Paraschak, a signatory to the letter, wants the federal government to call an independent review similar to the 1989 Dublin Inquiry which looked into doping in sport — the use of drugs and other banned practices to enhance athletic performance.
“Athletes’ human rights are being violated,” said Paraschak. She said the current system lacks an independent and transparent mechanism to address complaints.
Last year saw an explosion of personal accounts by athletes who say they were abused by their coaches in a toxic sport culture. These athletes came from a wide variety of sports, including hockey, gymnastics, cycling, water polo, figure skating, boxing, soccer, rowing, and bobsleigh.
In response, the federal government established the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner. But critics have said the office is not independent and effectively allows Sport Canada to investigate itself.