A petition launched by kinesiology professor emerita Victoria Paraschak calling for an inquiry into abuse in Canadian sport has been introduced in the House of Commons.
Windsor West MP Brian Masse tabled the petition Friday, urging the federal government to call an independent judicial inquiry. Parliament has 45 days to repond.
“We have heard the widespread accounts of abuse at every level of Canadian sport,” said Dr. Paraschak. “It’s time we have a public inquiry that is completely independent of sport to address complaints of sexual, physical, and mental maltreatment.”
Current and former athletes have been publicly sharing personal accounts of being abused by coaches in a toxic sport culture. These athletes come from a wide variety of sports, including gymnastics, hockey, cycling, figure skating, boxing, soccer, rowing, bobsleigh, and water polo.
The federal government established the Office of the Sport Integrity Commission to look into the complaints, but critics say the office is not independent and effectively allows Sport Canada to investigate itself.
“Scandals in the sports world continue to plague our country,” Masse said in tabling Paraschak’s petition. “Today, I stand up for my constituents, some of whom are survivors of abuse, to help shed light on the seriousness of the issue.”
In his statement, Masse thanked Paraschak by name, and urged the government to call a judicial inquiry.
“Without this transparent mechanism, we will continue to see complaints, maltreatment and no justice. It is time to protect our Canadian youth and athletes today.”
More than 700 people from across Canada signed Paraschak’s petition. Paraschak launched the online petition after 91 academics calling themselves Scholars Against Abuse in Canadian Sport wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for an independent public inquiry. Paraschak was one of the signatories to the letter.