Halifax mayor wants world juniors to go ahead following Hockey Canada resignations

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Halifax Mayor Mike Savage has said he wants the 2023 World Junior Championships, co-hosted in his city as well as Moncton, N.B., to go ahead following sweeping resignations from Hockey Canada .

On Tuesday, Hockey Canada announced the resignation of CEO Scott Smith and his entire board of directors after months of pressure following a controversy over the organization’s handling of alleged sexual assaults.

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Last week, Savage and Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold released a statement saying they were “deeply concerned about Hockey Canada’s lack of judgment and professionalism” in the wake of the scandal, and were looking forward looking forward to “meaningful changes within Hockey Canada ahead of the World Junior Championships taking place in our cities.

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“We haven’t pulled out (of organizing the tournament),” Savage said in an interview on Tuesday. “We have no intention of withdrawing. We wanted to see a meaningful change. We have seen significant changes.

Savage said he wanted to see how the organization would change going forward, “but for now that change has been made.”

“And I think that’s good news for Hockey Canada, for hockey players,” he added. “And I think it’s good news for Halifax and Moncton to host the world junior championships this winter.

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At a special meeting of the Halifax Regional Council on Tuesday evening, councilors voiced their support for holding the tournament, but said it also served as an opportunity to highlight needed changes.

“Hockey Canada has done a disservice, not only to the athletes they represent, but to all Canadians for the generations of men they have cherished out of responsibility,” the Coun said. Lisa Blackburn, District 14.

“As we discuss the World Juniors, we must also remember that our concerns are with Hockey Canada and not the IIHF or the many companies that will benefit from hosting this event.”

She said the board should take a stronger stance on what Hockey Canada has “chose to do and not do” and suggested a code of conduct for events.

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“I don’t want anyone to misinterpret this discussion today as (we) agree with Hockey Canada’s performance. I know this was a major announcement made today — the whole board is gone, the (CEO) is gone — but I think it’s going to take a lot more than that to regain the trust of Canadians and hockey fans from coast to coast.

Denise Schofield, assistant general manager – Citizen Services, told advisers at the meeting that ticket sales have been strong and the IIHF is fully committed to bringing the tournament to Canada “due to the short time frame”. .

The 2023 World Juniors were originally scheduled to be hosted by Russia’s Novosibirsk and Omsk, but the country lost hosting rights in February due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Schofield said the governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, as well as the municipal governments of Halifax and Moncton, are discussing how to ensure the event is safe and “can be considered a step in the healing process.

Deputy Mayor Pam Lovelace echoed the sentiment that hosting the tournament was important, as was sharing a message of respect, diversity and safety.
“I think punishing young people and their families is not the right message we want to send,” Lovelace said.

“At the same time, what is the message? What is the message we want to send? »

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Hockey associations react

Mayor Arnold was unavailable for comment, but a City of Moncton spokesperson told Global News on Tuesday that there would be discussions between the mayors and premiers of their two provinces over the next few days. .

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs have both said they would consider severing ties with the tournament unless Hockey Canada takes stronger action.

On Tuesday afternoon, they released a joint statement saying, “The leadership change at Hockey Canada is an important step towards accountability and meaningful change. Investigations are still ongoing and there is clearly much more to be done, but we are delighted to see these changes and hope this will indicate that they address the lingering issues within the organization.

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More people in NS and NB are distancing themselves from Hockey Canada

Hockey New Brunswick said in a statement that the resignations represent “a positive step towards resolving the challenges facing the organization.”

Hockey Nova Scotia released a statement stating that it “supports the changes announced today by the Hockey Canada Board of Directors. We believe this is an important first step towards meaningful change.

He also said he would spend time discussing this topic at his upcoming Hockey Nova Scotia fall tour meetings scheduled across the province.

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A new board of directors for Hockey Canada will be elected on Dec. 17, just nine days before the start of the world junior championships on Dec. 26.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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