Ottawa to fund women's sports, but not protect female-only spaces

On November 14, Gender Equality Minister Marci Ien will announce supports to bolster the 'economic security and prosperity of women through professional sport.' She will be joined by Canadian Women and Sport (CWS), an organization that permits biological men, who self-identify as women, to compete in women's sports.

Ottawa to fund women's sports, but not protect female-only spaces
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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The federal government is set to announce supports for female athletes despite their continued reluctance to protect female-only spaces.

Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, hopes to improve the "economic security and prosperity of women through professional sport," reads a media advisory.

On November 14, Ien will be joined by Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, CEO of Canadian Women and Sport (CWS) at the Mattamy Athletic Centre - an organization that permits men, who self-identify as women, to compete in women's sports. "Transgender women belong in women's sports," they posted May 2022 to Instagram.

Among those to publicly denounce the implicit unfairness includes Canadian powerlifter April Hutchinson, who now faces a two-year ban by the Canadian Powerlifting Union (CPU) for repeatedly airing her grievances.

"Apparently, I have failed in my gender-role duties as 'supporting actress' in the horror show that is my sport right now," she posted on her X feed November 6. 

According to the powerlifter, biological males have been allowed to taunt female competitors and "loot their earnings." Hutchinson said the CPU found her private complaint of male bullying in the sport to be "frivolous and vexatious." 

Hutchinson has since retained litigator Lisa Bildy of Libertas Law to represent her against the Canadian Powerlifting Union.

"Based on the information provided, the Discipline Panel is recommending that AH have her membership to the CPU suspended for 2 years," said the CPU ethics case.

Hutchinson said despite sending them a 13-page letter to thoroughly debunk their accusations against her person last month, they refused to rollback her suspension.

She has made multiple appearances on The Ezra Levant Show to discuss the ongoing issue and the letters she received for speaking out.

"Ever since March, I've had three letters of discipline for speaking out. And the most recent one was about two weeks ago saying that they're going to be taking it to a committee board and deciding if they're going to suspend me for basically calling the male a biological male on TV and introducing social media," she said in September.

At the time, she faced suspension for referring to a 'male' athlete as a biological male on social media.

"Several studies demonstrate that the proportion of Canadian women participating in sport is considerably lower than men," said then Canadian Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge in an August 2022 statement. According to a 2016 study published by CWS, 41% of Canadian girls between three and 17 don't play sports. Among adult women, non-participation jumped to 84%.

"Although most girls participate in sport in their early years, adolescent girls tend to drop out of sport and physical activity at a much higher rate than boys," she added. After the COVID pandemic, roughly 350,000 Canadian girls who played sports at least once a week did not commit to returning, said CWS.

At the time, Ottawa funded CWS $2 million to reduce barriers and retain women and girls in sport, reported the CBC.

"We believe that inclusive sport is a powerful vehicle for advancing women's rights and opportunities in Canadian society," said Allison Sandemeyer-Graves.

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