Recipe, Esso and Canadian Tire latest sponsors to cut ties with Hockey Canada

PM Justin Trudeau says there is a lack of understanding by Hockey Canada that they've lost the confidence of Canadians, and there needs to be wholesale changes at the top of the organization, even if that means they start a new organization.

Recipe Unlimited, a Canadian company that operates restaurants such as Swiss Chalet and The Keg, withdrew its support on Thursday for Hockey Canada’s men’s program — the latest in a flood of sponsors to do so since Tuesday’s Parliamentary hearing in Ottawa.

“Recipe, Swiss Chalet and The Keg have decided to cancel all men’s related partnership support of Hockey Canada. We will continue to support women’s related events for the remainder of 2022,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Sportsnet. “Our company focuses on creating inclusive and safe spaces for our teammates and guests, and we expect the same from our partners. At this point, we will not be engaging in any partnership discussions.”

Imperial Oil’s Esso brand, Canadian Tire Corporation, Skip the Dishes, Sobeys, Telus, Chevrolet, Tim Hortons and Scotiabank all said previously that they were either continuing to pull or finalizing pulling their sponsorship of Hockey Canada. Nike is the lone “premier partner” to not have issued a statement about support for Hockey Canada. A message sent to the Nike corporate office in the United States was not immediately returned.

“We will not be supporting Hockey Canada for men’s programs with the Esso brand in the 2022-2023 season, including the upcoming World Junior Championship tournament, until we see meaningful accountability, transparency and change,” an Esso spokesperson said in a statement issued to Sportsnet. “We are disappointed that we have not yet seen more significant action.”

The moves come as Hockey Canada continues to defend its leadership amid criticism over the handling of alleged sexual assaults and the way money was paid out in lawsuits. Hockey Canada did not respond when asked by Sportsnet for a comment.

“After careful consideration, Canadian Tire Corporation has made the decision to end its partnership with Hockey Canada,” Jane Shaw, senior vice-president, communications, Canadian Tire, said in a statement. “In our view, Hockey Canada continues to resist meaningful change and we can no longer confidently move forward together. 

“CTC is proud of our commitment to sport and will continue to invest in our beloved national game by re-directing support to hockey-related organizations that better align with our values. The Respect Group, which is focused on preventing bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination, is one of many organizations where funds will be diverted.  We are committed to supporting hockey and sport that is inclusive and safe for all Canadians.”

“Like many Canadians, we have been deeply troubled by recent allegations, and as such have since terminated our partnership with Hockey Canada,” a Skip the Dishes spokesperson said in a statement issued to Sportsnet.

Earlier, Telus Corp. said it will not be be sponsoring Hockey Canada’s men’s hockey programs for the 2022-23 season, including the upcoming World Juniors tournament.

Chevrolet also said it is stepping back from its sponsorship of Hockey Canada.

Telus says it is “deeply disheartened” by the lack of action and commitment from Hockey Canada to drive necessary cultural change. It says it is committed to enabling systemic change to make hockey safe for all.

Chevrolet says it is seeking “more clarity on what specific steps the organization has and will take following the alleged incidents of abuse.

“We at GM have no tolerance for abuse of any kind and wish to see Hockey Canada return to setting a positive example for all Canadians in all it does,” its statement says.

The decisions follow similar announcements by Tim Hortons and Scotiabank.

The coffee shop chain said Wednesday it also won’t sponsor any Hockey Canada men’s programming this season, including the world junior men’s championship in Halifax and Moncton.

Scotiabank says its sponsorship pause of Hockey Canada, first announced in June, will remain in effect throughout the entire 2022-2023 season.

Empire, the parent company of Sobeys, put out a statement on Thursday saying it chose not to renew its sponsorship with Hockey Canada when it expired at the end of June.

“… We chose not to renew our sponsorship because we were disgusted by all of the allegations and, as importantly, Hockey Canada’s unwillingness to make meaningful change to earn back the trust of Canadians and ensure everyone feels welcome and safe when playing the sport.”

Empire says it plans to continue to support the national women’s team, and is looking to do so without any connection to Hockey Canada.

— With files from Canadian Press

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