The federal government has made a statement that it is ready to announce support for female athletes, however, despite their clamor to protect and uphold female-only spaces being carried out. Marci Ien, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, has expressed her hope in enhancing the “economic security and prosperity of women through professional sport”, according to a media advisory.
Ien is expected to make this announcement on November 14, and she will be accompanied by Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, CEO of Canadian Women and Sport (CWS), at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. It is worth noting that this organization allows men who self-identify as women to compete in women’s sports. In a social media post from May 2022, Mattamy Athletic Center conveyed, “Transgender women belong in women’s sports.”
The implicit unfairness in this issue has been publicly denounced by Canadian powerlifter April Hutchinson, who is now facing a two-year ban by the Canadian Powerlifting Union (CPU) for repeatedly voicing her grievances. She has also taken legal representation through litigator Lisa Bildy of Libertas Law to challenge the Canadian Powerlifting Union.
There have been statements made by Hutchinson who mentioned that the CPU found her allegations of male bullying in the sport to be “frivolous and vexatious.” Despite sending a 13-page letter to debunk the accusations against her, the CPU refused to backtrack on her suspension. Hutchinson has also raised this issue in multiple appearances on The Ezra Levant Show, where she discussed her ongoing battle with the governance of powerlifting.
Past revelations by then Canadian Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge and a study by CWS have shown that the proportion of Canadian women participating in sports is considerably lower than men. This extends to an 84% non-participation rate among adult women. The Covid-19 pandemic has only made matters worse, with roughly 350,000 Canadian girls who played sports at least once a week not committing to returning after the pandemic.
Furthermore, CWS was funded $2 million by the Ottawa government as part of efforts to reduce barriers and retain women and girls in sport. According to Allison Sandemeyer-Graves, this inclusive approach to sport is believed to be a powerful avenue for advancing women’s rights and opportunities in Canadian society.
The refusal of the Canadian Powerlifting Union to address the concerns of female athletes and the continued support for transgender women competing in female sports is a matter that needs widespread national attention. The announcement of support for female athletes by the federal government is seen as contradictory to the failure to address issues of fairness and equity in women’s sports. This issue has sparked strong reactions from the athletic community, and it remains to be seen how the government and sports organizations will address the concerns of female athletes.