Tag Archives: Culture

Writers, academics sign open letter criticizing ‘ideological conformity,’ cancel culture

Dozens of artists, writers and academics have signed an open letter decrying the weakening of public debate and warning that the free exchange of information and ideas is in jeopardy amid a rise in what they call “illiberalism.”

J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood are among dozens of writers, artists and academics to argue against ideological conformity in an open letter in Harper’s Magazine.

The names hail from a host of different sectors, from cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky to activist Gloria Steinem, jazz great Wynton Marsalis to chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Academics on the list of more than 150 signatories hail from American universities such as Princeton, Yale, Harvard Law, Brown, Rutgers and more.

In addition to Atwood, other Canadian signatories include political pundit David Frum, longtime New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, former federal Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff and literary critic and writer Jeet Heer.

The letter comes amid a debate over so-called cancel culture — where prominent people face attack for sharing controversial opinions.

“The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy,” the letter said.

“But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.”

Rowling, for example, has attracted criticism over her views on transgender issues, which have angered many activists. In a series of tweets, Rowling said she supported transgender rights but did not believe in “erasing” the concept of biological sex.

The comments prompted Daniel Radcliffe and other cast members of the Potter films to publicly disagree with her. Rowling was unmoved, but has been trading barbs with critics online.

The letter criticized the state of public debate and the “swift and severe retribution” dealt out to any perceived wrongs. It decried an “intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.”

“The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away,” the letter said. “We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other.

Heated debate online

The letter garnered pushback and has sparked heated debate since being posted Tuesday by Harper’s and circulated by a number of the signatories on social media.

Critics have pointed out that some of those who signed have engaged in the same toxic behaviour they decry in the letter. Others cited the disconnect over signatories holding such prominence, positions of power and with large public platforms complaining about having their speech stifled. 

Historian Kerri Greenidge, who was listed among the original signatories, said she did not endorse the letter and asked for a retraction. A writer on the list, Jennifer Finney Boylan, apologized for her participation, saying she thought she was “endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming” and was not aware of the full list of signatories.

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CBC | World News

Japan’s work culture keeps many employees at the office despite COVID-19

Her face masked and her body tense, Nanami Fujiwara steps aboard the morning train to downtown Tokyo.

She glances nervously at the commuter car, half-filled with men in suits and women dressed for the office. Not everyone’s face is covered.

“It’s scary,” she said. “I don’t want to ride here and I don’t want to go to my company.” 

Like many in Japan, she’s afraid of getting infected with the coronavirus. But when it comes to work, Fujiwara has no choice.

Japan’s workers are encouraged to stay home and practise physical distancing by the government, and companies are asked to scale back or close. But in Tokyo, the country’s traditional work culture has kept many going to the office daily. (Saša Petricic/CBC)

Three days a week, her employers expect her to be at her desk, designing for a firm that builds air conditioning systems. She asked to work from home. They said no.

“Bosses want to physically watch over their subordinates,” Fujiwara said. “It’s just tradition.”

Surge in infections

Never mind that Japan is in the middle of a national state of emergency where everyone is requested to stay home and businesses are expected to close or scale back. There’s no real system of enforcement.

Tokyo is experiencing a surge in coronavirus infections that has seen confirmed COVID-19 cases almost triple in the past three weeks, to more than 4,000, and deaths rise to more than 100. Hospital intensive care units and acute care beds are almost all full.

Government staff check the body temperature of a passenger arriving at Nagoya railway station in Nagoya, Japan, on April 29. (STR/Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images)

For many companies and their employees, Japan’s rigidly prescribed work culture simply trumps all else. It’s one of several distinct social characteristics constraining the country’s response to the pandemic.

That’s aside from the financial pressures. Many businesses have been reluctant to shut because of lost profits, despite a government support program worth some $ 1.6 trillion Cdn. A common complaint from stores and smaller companies is that the program is poorly targeted and hard to access.

‘We’re not a very flexible people’

People have adjusted some daily routines. A poll by newspaper The Mainichi shortly after the state of emergency was announced found that 86 per cent of respondents were “engaging in greater self-restraint” in some of their activities.

Tokyo’s subway system has reported a ridership drop of around 60 per cent and a major Japan Railways commuter line into the city has almost 70 per cent fewer passengers.

New employees of Japan’s defence ministry sit on chairs spaced apart for social distancing in Tokyo on April 1. (STR/Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images)

But some things have proven hard to change.

“We’re not a very flexible people,” said Hiroshi Ono, a professor of human resources management at Tokyo’s Hitotsubashi University, who specializes in Japan’s work culture. “There’s only one way to do things here.

“Work has to be done at the company and during certain hours, learning has to take place at school, doctor visits at the hospital.”

Any other way is simply “mind boggling,” he said. 

Only 13% of Japanese employees working from home

This culture has long been an integral part of Japan’s traditional system of employment, where work hours are among the longest in the world and allegiance to companies like Toyota or Mitsubishi is part of an unwritten contract: the company takes care of you and your family, you devote your life to the company.

Not coming to work — even during a pandemic — shows “a sign of weakness, a lack of commitment and loyalty,” said Ono.

When the coronavirus hit, some major companies in Japan, including its big carmakers, shut down factories and sent employees home. But most mid-sized companies have not.

A Tokyo government employee calls on people to stay home in the Kabukicho entertainment area of Tokyo on April 11. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

An online survey of 20,000 people by Japan’s Persol Research Institute in mid-March found that only 13 per cent of Japanese employees were working from home, with almost 40 per cent reporting that the company “does not allow” teleworking. A further 41 per cent said the technology for working outside the office simply doesn’t exist.

By comparison, Statistics Canada reported that almost 40 per cent of Canadians were working from home during the week of March 22.

While Japan may have a reputation for high-tech prowess — fast internet connections and robots that serve meals in restaurants or take care of seniors — many business practices are stuck in the last century.

For instance, corporate legal documents still require the red ink of a company’s “hanko” stamp — the equivalent of a signature — which means someone has to be physically present at work to pull it out of a drawer and apply it. No electronic signatures allowed.

Pandemic response has been slowed by many of these “inefficiencies,” said Ono.

Virus a ‘blessing in disguise’

But he calls the coronavirus a “blessing in disguise” because it is exposing many problems Japan has been slow in fixing, such as overwork, excessive bureaucracy and the hanko stamp system, which is now being reviewed by government.

For now though, these obstacles to physical distancing are also causing resentment, not only among workers like Fujiwara, but among small business owners who have shut down in response to government requests.

Koichi Sei closed his bar more than a month ago, but now watches larger firms carrying on. The larger firms may fear losing money, he said, but he already risks going under.

“If everyone at the big companies is still commuting and taking the trains to work, it’s meaningless,” and his small business will be “sacrificed” for nothing, he said.

Afraid to lose face

Medical experts also complain about Tokyo’s slow response to shifting circumstances, rooted in cultural reticence to lose face.

“Traditionally and historically, Japan is not very good at changing the strategy,” said Kentaro Iwata, an infectious disease expert at Kobe University. Even “thinking of a Plan B is a sign of the failure of Plan A,” he said.

Japan’s initial strategy in dealing with the pandemic was to rely on limited contact tracing instead of widespread testing.

But as the infection numbers suddenly grew, public health experts said a much bigger effort was needed -– something the government has only recently implemented, and not nearly as broadly as some other countries.

Far fewer tests than Canada

So far, about 174,000 people have been tested in Japan, based on official government numbers. That compares to some 836,000 tested in Canada, based on numbers from Statista, despite Canada’s much smaller population.

Back on the commuter train, Fujiwara sees this Japanese government indecisiveness as the main reason her company and others insist on carrying on, despite the emergency.

“Japanese people are inclined to follow orders if pushed strongly,” she said. “But the government hasn’t said clearly that people can’t go to work.” 

And so, for many companies and their workers, it’s almost business as usual.

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CBC | World News

Detective work and a culture of cleanliness — has Japan found its own way to stop COVID-19?

They stand curb-side, shoulder to shoulder, breathing down each other’s necks, waiting for the light to change.

It’s rush hour at Tokyo’s bustling Shibuya crossing earlier this week. As workers head home and young people gather for the evening, there’s plenty of socializing and little social distancing.

In fact, except for a few extra masked faces, closed schools and subways that are less crowded than usual, there are few sign of panic or pandemic. Stores and restaurants are mostly open and office hours have been largely maintained.

“That’s Japanese culture,” said financial worker Riku Tanaka with a shrug. “It’s our culture to never take a break from work, no matter what.”

It’s only in the last week that pubs, karaoke bars and pachinko gaming parlours were officially encouraged to close, and police and barbed wire were posted to keep crowds from Japan’s iconic Sakura festival, when the cherry trees blossom and Tokyo turns pink. Parties are common in parks under the flowering branches.

“Move along,” a police officer told groups of gawkers this week. “You can see it next year.”

Japanese government attempts to dissuade young people from partying under cherry blossom trees, a tradition during the country’s Sakura festival, has met with mixed success. (Saša Petricic/CBC)

If Japan seems complacent about the threat of coronavirus in a world that’s been crippled by it, that’s partly because the number of infections here has been relatively low. Japan has had fewer than 3,000 confirmed cases and 80 deaths in a country with 126 million people ― more than three times the population of Canada.

Regional outbreaks in the northern island of Hokkaido, Osaka and elsewhere were given special attention, but declared resolved relatively quickly.

Tokyo numbers rising

Many consider Japan’s tidy streets and personal hygiene as its protective shield.

“Japanese people are quite careful about being clean,” said student Shunpei Kanai on a busy Tokyo street corner. He pointed to frequent hand washing and a culture of cleanliness.

Parts of downtown Tokyo appear as though there is no pandemic at all. (Saša Petricic/CBC)

Still, the country is getting nervous.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has declared “high concern,” issuing increasingly anxious warnings for people to avoid going outside. The number of cases in the megacity is rising now by almost a hundred per day, shocking many.

Hospitals have been told to reserve beds only for the severely ill and to tell others who test positive to stay at home. With the Tokyo Olympics now postponed from this summer to July 2021, the government is considering using some sports facilities to house the sick.

“We’re just barely holding it together,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said this week. “If we loosen our grip even a little, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a sudden surge.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has conceded Japan is “barely holding the line,” but he’s been reluctant to declare a state of emergency, much less order a lockdown. Even if he did, Japanese law doesn’t give officials the kind of sweeping powers of enforcement other countries have to force people to stay home or impose fines on those who disobey.

Worries about impact on sagging economy

His government is worried about the impact on an economy that was already faltering before the crisis hit. Japan’s GDP is on track to shrink by 7.1 per cent, based on figures from the first quarter of the year, raising the spectre of a recession even worse than the last big one in 2008.

All of Japan’s auto makers, engines of the country’s economy, have stopped production because of falling demand worldwide. The cost of postponing the Olympics has been pegged at $ 6 billion US. The country’s tourism industry is in freefall.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been reluctant to declare a state of emergency, much less order a lockdown. (Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press)

Instead of calling the epidemic an emergency, Abe offered something a little less: a supply of two cloth facemasks per household, to address a national shortage.

“You can use soap to wash and re-use them, so this should be a good response,” he said.

Japanese Twitter users exploded with criticism of the government’s tepid response.

“Is the Japanese government for real? This is a total waste of tax money,” said a user named Usube. As with many commentators, the message was that Tokyo should be doing more.

“If too much consideration is put on the economy, there will be cases where we can’t protect lives,” said SatoMasahisa. “Life is the top priority.”

‘We have to be very careful’

Experts are watching Japan closely to see if it can keep the coronavirus under control without resorting to lockdowns or extensive testing, and without crippling the economy. No major nation has been able to do that, though Sweden is trying something similar, with mixed results.

Tokyo residents have been coming to see Japan’s annual cherry blossom festival in smaller numbers. (Saša Petricic/CBC)

Kenji Shibuya, a public health expert at King’s College in London and a former chief of health policy at the World Health Organization, is skeptical that his home country can pull it off.

He said either Japan has successfully been able to ferret out clusters of the disease and stop it from spreading through detective work, or “outbreaks are still to be found.”

“My guess is that Japan is about to see an explosion of transmission,” he said, “so we have to be very careful.”

Age is a factor

By one measure, Japan may be especially in danger. It has the oldest population in the world, with 28 per cent of people over the age of 65. Based on fatalities from the coronavirus globally, that’s the group with the highest risk of dying.

So far in Japan, all but a couple of deaths have been among patients over 70.

WATCH | How Taiwan is fighting the COVID-19 outbreak

Both Taiwan and Canada reported their first presumptive cases of COVID-19 within days of each other, but their experience of life with the pandemic has been quite different. Children in Taiwan are still in school, restaurants are open and there’s no shortage of protective supplies. Watch what Canada can learn from Taiwan’s approach to fight the spread of the coronavirus. 5:42

It’s exactly why Toshio Baba has barely been out of his house in more than a month — though this week, urgent errands took him down a crowded street in Tokyo’s Shinjuku commercial district. He’s 85 and walks slowly with a cane.

Baba is concerned the government’s delay in implementing stricter measures to prevent transmission is putting him — and many other Japanese — at risk.

“I’m definitely worried,” he said. “If a senior citizen like me tests positive for coronavirus and ends up in hospital, there’s not a great chance of survival, because my body would have to beat it on its own.”

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CBC | World News

Emma Watson Says She’s ‘Slightly Fascinated’ by Kink Culture

Emma Watson Says She’s ‘Slightly Fascinated’ by Kink Culture | Entertainment Tonight

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Can the team-first culture within Canada Basketball convince its WNBA stars to keep coming back?

It is cliché for athletes to say the logo on the front of their jerseys is more meaningful than the name on the back.

But you’ll never hear that from a woman on the Canadian national basketball team. They don’t require clichés to explain the importance of playing for their country.

Former team member Lizanne Murphy was there to lay the foundation of this culture in her 2005 debut season as Canada began rebuilding itself to its current status as a legitimate Olympic threat.

“I felt a role as I got older to really pass that on the importance of the selflessness that comes in playing for Canada and that everybody can be great individually but Canada has found such improvement, such an amazing jump in the world rankings,” Murphy said.

“And a lot of that came through our commitment to the team and that importance of team first.”

Murphy retired in 2017, having helped lift the national program from 24th to fifth worldwide. It now boasts its highest-ever ranking at No. 4.

On the court, that team-first attitude is evident. In the NBA and WNBA, one superstar can lift a team to a title. In international basketball, where the physicality ramps up, coaching scheme and passing are more likely keys to success than one ball-dominant force.

“Canada’s not the biggest country — we never were. We’re not the richest country in terms of budget and ability to train and we’re starting to get unbelievable superstars internationally, but we didn’t always have those and so we knew the only way to get to be among the best in the world is to be the best team in the world,” Murphy said.

WATCH | Kia Nurse is proud to wear the maple leaf:

New York Liberty point guard and WNBA all-star Kia Nurse of Hamilton, Ont., discusses Canada’s opening Olympic qualifying game on Thursday in Ostend, Belgium. 1:51

WATCH | Kayla Alexander aiming to ‘take care of business’:

After returning from a knee injury, the WNBA Chicago Sky centre from Milton, Ont., is happy to be playing for Canada at the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament in Ostend, Belgium. 1:27

For that to happen, players must be committed to wearing the maple leaf. Right now, that means heading to Belgium to compete in this weekend’s Olympic qualifier.

Canada is grouped with host Belgium (No. 9), Japan (No. 10) and Sweden (No. 22). With the Olympics in Tokyo, the Japanese side has an automatic bid.

In Belgium, each team will play the other once, and the top two squads outside of Japan will book berths for the Tokyo Games.

CBC Sports will carry live coverage for all of Canada’s games, beginning on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET against Belgium.

Money small factor for women

Over the summer, the men’s team watched as its NBA players chose not to compete at the World Cup in China, with various players dealing with off-season trades or free-agency decisions or simply resting lingering injuries.

There is no direct financial benefit of playing for Canada. There’s lots of money on the line in the NBA, and with one more Olympic qualifier remaining, many Canadian men did not view the World Cup as all that important.

CBC Sports will also carry live coverage of that men’s tournament in Victoria, beginning June 23.

Of course, the WNBA is not a money-making machine like its men’s counterpart.

Most players also ply their trade overseas in the off-season. Kia Nurse, selected as a WNBA all-star starter in just her second season, also plays in Australia alongside fellow Canuck Bridget Carleton. Three of the five starters on Russia’s WBC Dynamo Novosibirsk pro team are Canadians. There are other players dotted throughout Europe and Asia.

In November, nearly all of them flew back to Edmonton for the Olympic pre-qualifying tournament in Edmonton — including Nurse and Carleton from Australia.

Canadian Kayla Alexander competes for the Adelaide Lightning in the Australian league grand final in Feb. 2019. (Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

Kayla Alexander, a Canadian forward for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, has also played in Russia, Korea, France and Australia.

The 29-year-old Milton, Ont., native was also in Edmonton, but required just the relatively short flight from Toronto. Alexander did not play in that tournament because of a knee injury suffered in the FIBA Americup over the summer, and has spent the WNBA off-season rehabbing near home.

Alexander made her national team debut in 2018 after three failed tryouts — two where she was cut and one where she was injured. Still, she already recognizes the binds that tie together players from around the professional world.

“One thing about our team is we’re all competitive so in practice we will be going at each other no mercy, but at the same time we can still crack jokes with each other and you’re laughing and having a good time,” Alexander said.

WATCH | How Canada can qualify for Tokyo:

Canada is set to play in a tournament starting on Thursday, Feb. 6 that can get them into the Olympics. What do they need to do to get in? 1:09

In January, the WNBA and its players union agreed to a historic collective bargaining agreement that allows players to earn nearly $ 500,000 US, while also raising the salary floor for rookies and veterans. Fully paid maternity leave was another key aspect of the agreement, along with childcare benefits and enhanced travel standards, along with other health and wellness benefits.

Murphy said she was just one of two national team members, along with Tamara Tatham, who played overseas as recently as 2007, though neither played in the WNBA. She credits that experience, and the increasing popularity of that choice, as a big reason for Canada’s ascent.

Still, an off-season overseas is not the most ideal situation, and the rising popularity of women’s basketball means many players can stay home and make money in other ways or alternately affect some difference in their communities.

The new CBA, then, introduces the concept of choice.

“This is at least gonna give them something to say ‘OK, maybe I don’t have to do that, maybe I don’t have to play basketball 12 months out of the year, travel all over the world, live out of a suitcase, never see my family,'” Murphy said.

That may only wind up true for the league’s top players — many will still not command salaries which allow that decision. But it will be interesting to see how commitment to country evolves as the WNBA continues its rise.

Professional women’s hockey is in flux. The NHL refused to attend the last Winter Olympics. NBA players, for the most part, choose to participate in the Olympics, but the top players sit out all the preliminary action — as evidenced by the Americans’ seventh-place finish at August’s World Cup.

The WNBA maintains an Olympic break built into the schedule. Attendance has never been an issue. Players like Murphy have instilled that team-first culture within her country’s national program.

Alexander, entering her eighth WNBA season, seems a lock to play for Canada should it qualify for Tokyo, barring any more health issues. She led the Americup in rebounding and led Canada in points per game.

“You’re always a cut or injury away from not being able to play so I say soak it up and take advantage of every opportunity you get to represent your country.”

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CBC | Sports News

Power play: Hockey players are finally speaking out against the sport’s toxic culture

This column is an opinion by Oren Weisfeld, a Toronto freelance journalist who focuses on the intersection of sports and politics. For more information about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

The locker room is a sacred place in hockey — one where every word or action is supposed to be kept in-house. Historically, players have obliged with the unwritten rules that ask them to keep their mouths shut about what goes on behind closed doors.

It’s part of hockey’s toxic culture. One that asserts power over players from a very young age, asking them to keep their head down, work hard, play by the rules, and never under any circumstances break the trust of the coach or organization by making private actions public, no matter how inappropriate those actions are. 

Then we learned on Sunday that during Toronto Maple Leafs’ forward Mitch Marner’s rookie season, head coach Mike Babcock asked him to rank his teammates from the hardest-working to the laziest and then exposed the list to the team, leaving Marner in tears and his teammates furious.

What was shocking wasn’t just the action itself, but the fact that it got out of the locker room.

Even more surprising, perhaps, were Marner’s words to the media at practice on Tuesday: “I think if you wanna share [your] stories [involving coaches], do it… it’s your story to tell.”

For a 22-year-old from Markham, Ont., Marner is more confident and calculated than his boyish face lets on. Players aren’t supposed to speak out against coaches, but Marner is a young superstar unwilling to play by the old rules. 

Still, even Marner couldn’t have expected to be the catalyst of an unlikely movement that has seen current and former NHL players start speaking out against hockey’s toxic culture and those who enable it, potentially changing the unfair balance of power that has existed for decades. 

On Monday, former NHLer Akim Aliu tweeted about his experience playing for current Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters in 2009-10 with the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs.

“He walked in before a morning pre-game skate and said, ‘Hey Akim, I’m sick of you playing that n—– s—,’ ” Aliu told TSN, “He said, ‘I’m sick of hearing this n—–s f—— other n—–s in the a– stuff.’ 

“He then walked out like nothing ever happened. You could hear a pin drop in the room, everything went dead silent. I just sat down in my stall, didn’t say a word.”

In the aftermath of Aliu’s comments, former Carolina Hurricane Michal Jordan accused Peters of kicking him and also punching another player in the head during a game.

That account was confirmed by current Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour: 

Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour confirms allegations by former player Michal Jordan that Bill Peters kicked Jordan and punched another player during a game. 1:35

Peters issued an apology on Wednesday in an open letter to the Flames organization, saying: “I know that my comments have been the source of both anger and disappointment, and I understand why. Although it was an isolated and immediately regrettable incident, I take responsibility for what I said.”

He is away from the team while the Flames investigate.

On Tuesday, former NHLer Daniel Carcillo accused long-time NHL coach Daryl Sutter of verbal abuse, and said the Western Hockey League (WHL) and Hockey Canada ignored physical, verbal, and sexual abuse.

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CBC | Sports News

‘Watchmen’ on HBO: A Guide to the Historical Events, Political Figures and Pop Culture References

‘Watchmen’ on HBO: A Guide to the Historical Events, Political Figures and Pop Culture References | Entertainment Tonight

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Justin Kripps defends Bobsleigh Canada culture after Kaillie Humphries’s lawsuit

Current Canadian bobsleigh athletes are speaking out in support of Bobsleigh Canada’s culture following Kaillie Humphries’s allegations regarding head coach Todd Hays.

Humphries, 34, filed a harassment complaint with the organization last August, alleging Hays was mentally and emotionally abusive.

In a statement, Olympic champion bobsleigh athlete Justin Kripps says “all the returning national team members” he’s talked to feel they “train and compete in a safe and supportive environment.”

“In my 13 years in the sport I’ve never experienced a better culture than we’ve had over the last couple of years,” he said.

Current team members Cynthia Appiah as well as Alysia Rissling reiterated Kripps’s comments on Twitter.

“I can’t comment on the harassment case, but Kripps’s comments do resonate with returning athletes that are currently on the team,” Appiah posted.

“The culture on the team has had a remarkably different and upward tone since the 2017/2018 season.”

Hays took over as head coach of the Canadian team beginning in 2017. Humphries claims it was during the 2017-18 season she was emotionally, verbally and mentally abused by Hays.

WATCH | Kaillie Humphries ready to move on from Bobsleigh Canada

CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux breaks down Kaillie Humphries’s decision to leave Bobsleigh Canada and the lawsuit she filed after having her request to be released denied. 2:05

She took last season off from competition awaiting a resolution on an internal investigation into her allegations being conducted by Bobsleigh Canada. The organization says it has yet to complete that investigation. Humphries has since been asked to be released from the team and says Bobsleigh Canada is blocking her from doing that – she plans to compete for the United States.

Humphries is now suing the sport organization. In court documents filed by Humphries and her legal team, she names Hays and outlines several occasions during the 2017-18 season when she claims the harassment occurred. Bobsleigh Canada has yet to file a statement of defence.

“After over an hour of verbal insults attacking me personally and professionally in a public place with people watching, I began to cry out of frustration, hurt feelings, and astonishment at what he was saying,” Humphries said in court documents.

Changing the culture

Kripps says improving team cohesion and atmosphere has been a focus for the program and has helped lead to success.

“Working on our athlete-athlete and athlete-coach culture is something we feel is important and we’ve been working on for years,” Kripps said.  

“Despite having over half the team be World Cup rookies last year, the athletes and coaches worked together and supported each other and it’s a big reason we’ve been experiencing the success we have been.”

Hays was coach of the U.S. women’s program from 2011 until 2014. He’s been head coach of Bobsleigh Canada for two years.

WATCH | Olympic champion Humphries wants release from Bobsleigh Canada

Humphries is suing Bobsleigh Canada to be released, claiming that she was in “an environment that is unsafe.” 2:54

USA Bobsled says Hays’s contract wasn’t renewed in 2014 after restructuring the program and consolidating the men’s and women’s teams for “better collaboration among the coaches.”

“That structure did not play to Todd’s coaching style,” said spokesperson Amanda Bird.

In a statement to CBC Sports, Bobsleigh Canada said it abides by its harassment and discrimination policy that has been in place since 2006.

The organization said it would not comment on Humphries’s specific case, citing the privacy provisions of that policy, until the investigation is complete. 

Bobsleigh Canada says Hays will not be commenting on Humphries’s allegations. 

“As the matter is before the courts there will be no comment from Todd Hays until this is wrapped up,” the organization said.

Humphries plans to compete for U.S.

Humphries now says she’d rather compete for the U.S. She is marrying American Travis Armbruster, a former brakeman on the U.S. bobsleigh team, on Saturday. 

“Being put into an environment that is unsafe. It’s not okay, let alone I’m going to be punished just for stating that those facts are existing to me,” Humphries said. 

“It was a very hard decision, it still is a very hard decision to get to this point. At the end of the day, I have to be who I am, I have to be strong.”

WATCH | Canadian Olympians show support for Kaillie Humphries

CBC’s Erin Collins spoke with Canadian Olympians about Humphries decision to leave Bobsleigh Canada after abuse allegations against head coach Todd Hays. 1:49

Humphries says once she secures her release from Team Canada, she will begin her process to become eligible to compete for the United States.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) requirements dictate that an athlete changing countries “may participate in the Olympic Games to represent his new country provided that at least three years have passed since the competitor last represented [their] former country.”

She plans to attend a U.S. bobsleigh training camp in Lake Placid as a guest next week.

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CBC | Sports News

Melissa Barrera Says ‘In the Heights’ Film Will Make People ‘Fall in Love With Our Culture’ (Exclusive)

Melissa Barrera Says ‘In the Heights’ Film Will Make People ‘Fall in Love With Our Culture’ (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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Hockey Night in Canada podcast: Daniel Carcillo speaks out about 'disgusting' hockey culture

The Hockey Night In Canada podcast is a weekly CBC Sports production.

In each episode, host Rob Pizzo is joined by colourful characters within hockey to discuss great moments and great players and talk about today's stars. The Hockey Night podcast brings you beyond the boxscore with insight you won't find anywhere else.

On this week's episode, we discuss the hazing culture in hockey. Hazing has been a seemingly accepted part of hockey for decades now. But recently some disturbing stories have come into the public eye. Stories that involved abuse, bullying, and some horrible behaviour … all excused under the guise of "hazing."

The story involving students being hazed at St Michael's College School in Toronto got national attention. Then, former NHL player Dan Carcillo dropped a bomb Saturday on Twitter, saying that it was also prevalent during his time in the Ontario Hockey League.

Daniel Carcillo talks about the hazing experiences he went through in the OHL:

In this week's edition, Carcillo talks about trying to change the culture of hockey when it comes to hazing. 1:14

He talked about the abuse he and several other rookies endured during his rookie season in the OHL with the Sarnia Sting. The two-time Stanley Cup champion joins host Rob Pizzo and talks about what he went through during the 2002-03 season and why he decided to go public with his experiences. He also shares what he believes needs to be done to stop the abuse.

In her weekly Ice Level segment, Sophia Jurksztowicz talks to Carcillo's teammate in Sarnia, Dave Pszenyczny, about the abuse that he suffered. We also speak with CBC Sports' Jaime Strashin, who helped report on Carcillo's story. 

Be sure to subscribe to the Hockey Night in Canada podcast to get a new episode each week. It's available on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your podcasts.

Listen to previous Hockey Night podcasts

Episode 8: 

They're a unique breed — the keepers of the crease are often known to be a little eccentric. Ilya Bryzgalov joins in to help explain what makes them so different from their teammates. 

Episode 7:

Recent HHOF inductee Jayna Hefford joins Pizzo to break down the 2018 class, while selection committee member Brian Burke sheds some light on who the most important person in the game is — and it may not be who you think. 

Episode 6:

Pizzo sits down with Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean to talk about the top storylines one month into the season and MacLean also fuels the debate over who the best player in the game is right now. 

Episode 5:

Hockey fans depend on certain trusted insiders to get their breaking news, but how exactly do they get these scoops? Turns out it's harder work than some might expect. 

Episode 4:

The fans love seeing the puck in the net…so what about the poor guys between the pipes? Are they getting pummelled for the sake of rule-tinkering?

Episode 3:

Could there be a more thankless gig? Perfection means being ignored. A single mistake and you are marked for years of noisy abuse. Don Koharski officiated over 1,700 regular season games. He and Pizzo discuss the infamous "donut incident".

Episode 2:

Rivalries are the heart and soul of NHL excitement, but the days of brawling are mostly a thing of the past. Chris Nilan and Kris Draper talk about those old grudges, while some current players insist rivalries are as hot as ever.

Episode 1: 

At the beginning of every NHL season, hockey fans generally have more questions than answers when it comes to their favourite teams — and the start of the 2018-19 campaign was no different. Pizzo tackled five burning questions on the minds of the hockey faithful. 

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