I call this meeting to order.
Good morning, everyone.
Welcome to meeting No. 70 of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is taking place on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
Today’s meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House Order of Thursday, June 23, 2022.
There are some quick housekeeping rules we want to talk about.
While public health authorities and the Board of Internal Economy no longer mandate or require us to wear a mask indoors or on the precinct, masks and respirators are still excellent tools to prevent the spread of any kind of disease.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, the committee is meeting to continue its study on safe sport in Canada.
Today, by video conference, we have three witnesses representing the Canadian Soccer Association. They are Earl Cochrane, general secretary of Canada Soccer, and Paul-Claude Bérubé, independent director on the board of directors of Canada Soccer.
We will also be hearing from Stephanie Geosits, Independent Director of Canada Soccer's Board of Directors
Here's how we do this.
First and foremost, you are not allowed to take any pictures of yourselves at the meeting. No photos are allowed.
Secondly, if you look at the bottom of your screen, you will see there is a little globe. That globe, if you press it, will give you English or French translation.
Anything you say should be through the chair.
Basically, that's about it. We can begin.
Before we begin, we will be giving the three witnesses a total of 10 minutes—not each, but a total of 10 minutes.
I also wanted to remind the committee that we have a hard stop, because we have 15 minutes of business at the end of this meeting.
Good morning, Madam Chair and members of the committee.
My name is Earl Cochrane. I'm the general secretary of Canada Soccer.
Canada Soccer governs the global sport in our country. We are custodians of a sport that, perhaps more than any other, has a platform to transform society for the better. It is incumbent upon Canada Soccer to amplify Canadian values and to weave them into the fabric of our game, both domestically and internationally. We haven't always been perfect, but our intent is to have a significant positive impact on those who play and enjoy our sport.
In recent years, compensation for the Canada Soccer national teams has grown exponentially, but payments to the two teams have always been similar. From 2012 to 2019, player compensation was $2.92 million for the men and $2.96 million for the women.
As the national teams have grown and enjoyed success, they have been paid as such. When payment to each national team has been unequal in any given year, it has generally been driven by differences in competition calendars. In 2020, COVID-19 led to the inactivity of both teams and obviously had a negative impact on their compensation. Even so, that year the women's national team was paid the amount contractually owed to them, while the men's team received no pay. However, the compensation for the teams has never been the same, and Canada Soccer understands and fully supports the women's team's desire for equal pay.
Canada Soccer is committed to delivering equal pay and ensuring that the environments for both of our national teams are built for success. Based on those principles, in June 2022, Canada Soccer first offered a framework for the same collectively bargained agreements to the players of both national teams. The proposed agreements will pay players on both teams the same amount for playing a 90-minute match and will share total competition prize money equally between the teams. Simply put, national team players, regardless of their gender identity, will be paid the same amount for their work in representing our country.
Canada Soccer has negotiated in good faith and will continue to do so. We have provided documentation to inform those negotiations. In fact, we have a financial information session with the teams in a few hours. We have provided the national team players and their representatives detailed information and briefings on Canada Soccer's financials, its audited financial statements and detailed breakdowns of Canada Soccer spending.
The leadership team of the women's national team and their legal counsel were also given a presentation on Canada Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Business agreement. The players and their representatives have always been welcome to ask any questions about that information. Canada Soccer has also met and will continue to meet all legal requirements for financial disclosure. We know the government is considering new requirements for national sports organizations, and we welcome direction on that from the .
We firmly believe the offer in front of the national teams today is fair and equitable. The agreement would make Canada's women's team the second-highest paid women's national team amongst the 211 FIFA member associations, trailing only the United States. The men's team will also be fairly compensated and in line with other World Cup-calibre nations, but this requires a sign-off by all three parties. We are doing this despite the fact that Canada Soccer's revenues are significantly less than those of most of our competitors.
In 2021, Canada Soccer's total revenue was approximately $33 million. In that same year, the football associations of the women's teams currently ranked higher than Canada by FIFA—the U.S., Germany, England, Sweden and France—had total revenues ranging from $70 million to $700 million. We are paying Canada's women more than those associations, with the exception of the U.S.
Also, Canada Soccer is working to deliver equal pay in an extremely unequal international environment. For example, Canada Soccer will receive $9 million for appearing in the group stage of the 2022 men's World Cup, while receiving a similar amount for winning the 2023 women's World Cup.
Canada Soccer is offering to equalize this disparity for the women's team, because they deserve it. They are world-class athletes and global ambassadors for our country. Canada Soccer commits to being a part of the solution to the unequal financial environment in which we operate. Canada Soccer is also dedicated to equity in our national team operations. Equal opportunity has been and will continue to be our standard practice.
From 2012 to 2019, total staffing and program spending was just about $37 million for both national teams. Recently at Canada Soccer we made some funding decisions for the operations of the women's team that we thought would have minimal impact. We were wrong. Those decisions were made with good intentions of controlling spending, but we should not have made those decisions that negatively impacted the women's team.
Canada Soccer is now in conversations with the technical staff of our women's team to reconfirm what they need to be successful at the World Cup, and we are committed to meeting those needs.
Canada Soccer also recommitted privately to the women's team players and is publicly reiterating today that we will continue to deliver the resources needed to compete and succeed at the international level. That includes, but is not limited to, preparatory matches against top-tier opponents, adequate staffing, a minimum number of players, adherence to an agreed-to travel policy, and equitable training venues and accommodations. However, it would not necessarily mean equal amounts spent on the operations of the national teams at all times, because the teams have very different competitive calendars and requirements within the FIFA match windows.
Delivering on those commitments will require additional revenue, so Canada Soccer is developing a five-year, revenue-focused strategic plan and holding discussions to amend its agreement with CSB.
The CSB agreement provides valuable broadcast and streaming opportunities for both national teams. It guarantees Canada Soccer an annual payment, and it has secured new partners to significantly invest in grassroots and high-performance soccer in Canada.
Prior to the CSB agreement, Canada Soccer was paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to broadcast women's and men's national team games. No Canadian broadcaster was willing to pay to broadcast those games. The CSB agreement has resolved that issue and helped grow the women's game in Canada.
The governing body for European football, the Scottish FA, Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing have or have had similar agreements.
Today, the unilateral term option and limited ability for us to share in upside revenue are drawbacks of the agreement with CSB, but we hope to resolve those issues shortly.
In recent years, Canada Soccer's national teams have achieved an unprecedented level of success. The women's team's 2021 Olympic gold medal was a particularly special moment, and the women's team has consistently demonstrated excellence. Canada Soccer is proud of those achievements and will fully support the women's team to succeed at the 2023 women's World Cup, to qualify for Paris 2024 in September, and to continue to compete for titles.
We are listening and responding to what the players and technical staff need. We are committed to equal pay through the proposed collective bargaining agreements, and we must deliver on our commitments within set budgets and financial realities.
I'm going to go off-script for one moment, so I apologize, Madam Chair. A few weeks ago, Janine Beckie, a player on the women's national team, appeared before you. She recently suffered an injury that will see her miss the World Cup and the remainder of her 2023 NWSL season with her full-time, professional club. On behalf of Canada Soccer and, if it's not too presumptuous, on behalf of this committee, I would like to let her know that she's in our thoughts and we wish her the best on her recovery.
I've gotten to know Janine over the past year, quite well. On top of being incredibly professional and passionate about this sport and this country, she's a warrior. I know that she will come back stronger than ever. I wanted to share publicly that we will, through the team and through our full-time staff, do everything we can to provide every opportunity for her to be involved in any way that she sees fit at the World Cup.
Thank you for your attention.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair. Of course, I also send my best wishes to Janine, who was a very impressive witness before us a few weeks ago.
I'm going to come back to Mr. Waugh's line of questioning. Both of you have testified, and you're both under oath, as you know.
The board of directors approved the agreement with Canadian Soccer Business. One of the issues that we are here for relates to the lack of transparency around the representation agreement.
I will ask you.... At your board meeting of November 30, 2018, motion 37 was adopted. It states:
Motion: The CSA CPL negotiating team...to meet with representatives of CSB no later than December 14, 2018, with all non-substantive issues resolved and with the intent of negotiating a final agreement by December 14, 2018; and that the CSA negotiating team report back to the Board at a conference call no later than December 16, 2018 to recommend either approval of the negotiated agreement, or to decide on next steps.
That was moved by Bernie Morton and seconded by Ryan Fequet.
The next meeting minutes provided to us were from March 23, 2019, and there was no signal that the board ever approved this agreement. I have no board minutes showing the board approving this agreement.
Mr. Cochrane, on what date did the board of directors approve the agreement? Where can you refer me to that in the minutes, please?
I don't know if the question is directed at any of us in particular, but I can answer it.
First off, let's revisit the context in 2017. At that time, we were in dire need of revenue and had huge expenses related to broadcasting rights for Canadian teams' games, both on the women's and men's side. In fact, it was costing us close to $1 million per year to broadcast our games and we needed revenue to sustain the development of soccer in Canada.
This agreement was one of the solutions identified by management and the Board of Directors. It allowed for the creation of a national soccer league in Canada, while also generating revenue. Of course, this was all prepared and discussed by the Board of Directors and management. We also spoke to our organization's legal counsel to get their opinion on the various documents we received.
I want to clarify that this agreement was indeed approved on March 27, 2018. I have before me the resolution that was passed at that time. It clearly states the following:
“To approve the CSB representation agreement as circulated with amendments.”
So that was done on March 27, 2018. We asked for changes and discussions continued. Finally, in December, during a conference call, all board members expressed satisfaction with the agreement. The agreement was subsequently signed on January 1, 2019.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I'm just going to start by reminding everybody where we were.
Motion M-37, adopted at the meeting of November 30, 2018, makes very clear that the March 2018 preliminary agreement by the board to sign the document is no longer valid because the board reconsidered multiple times during the year. On November 30, they specifically asked the negotiating committee to come back to them, and said that they would then need to decide whether to approve it.
I think you have a significant governance issue if you're relying on a March 2018 date, and I suggest your board look at that.
You have asked us not to deal with the substance of the agreement at this meeting. You've asked for us to do that only in a private meeting, but you, yourselves, have offered terms of the agreement, unilaterally, at this meeting.
For example, Mr. Cochrane, you spoke of broadcasting rights, and you said that you are now receiving an annual amount for broadcasting rights.
What you didn't say, sir, is that it's an annual advance that can be recouped on broadcasting rights—in section 9.5 of the agreement.
Is it not true that the amount you spoke of is actually an amount that's an advance that can be recouped if CSB doesn't reach that amount for broadcasting?
Thank you for that. I have to move on.
We also talked about Canada Soccer's financial reports. Jay Fitzsimmons tweeted, “As a...soliciting non-profit corp, Canada Soccer must file financial reports, posted online via Corporations Canada. But the reports ain’t there.”
Hockey Canada had a similar situation. Like Canada Soccer, Hockey Canada is a soliciting non-profit corporation. Like Canada Soccer, its financial reports weren't posted on Corporations Canada until Hockey Canada came under scrutiny, and suddenly nine years of financial reports were uploaded at once, in October 2022.
As a committee, we would like to hear from Canada Soccer as to when it is going to post its obligatory financial reports. We would also like to hear from Canada Soccer about any other responses that have been provided but that have not been fulsome.
The reality is that Canada Soccer has a responsibility to be transparent. What I would suggest is that some of the contradictory answers and some of the stonewalling that we've heard today is not appropriate for Canada Soccer and for the hundreds of thousands of people who are involved in soccer.
You are accountable for transparency.
I hope that the next time representatives of Canada Soccer or people who have been involved with that organization testify before our committee, they will provide answers that are true, accurate and complete.
Madam Chair, I want to put forward the motion. It's a very long motion, so I'm not going to read the entire thing. It's the motion I gave notice of yesterday and that the clerk has circulated.
In the French version, second bullet, the words “et ont reçu l'ordre de comparaître devant le Comité“ should be deleted. I have already spoken to the Clerk about it. The rest is correct.
Basically, Madam Chair, we all saw what happened last week when Ms. Geremia was here. I don't think any of us were satisfied with the answers she gave, although I very much appreciate that Google has now agreed to send its two top American executives to us.
This motion is similar to what my colleague, Mr. Bittle, put forward. It's a motion about international ways that large companies are seeking to subvert parliamentary accountability. We're going to look at current and ongoing use of intimidation not only in Canada but around the world. We're going to learn from what happens around the world.
One meeting would be with Meta, and we would summon Mark Zuckerberg, Nick Clegg and Chris Saniga.
We would ask Meta to provide the documents that Google was asked to provide earlier, as set out in (i) and (ii), but we will not ask for third party documents. Parts of what were in Mr. Bittle's motion, (iii) and (iv), are gone. I've revised part two of his motion because Google has accepted to appear, so there's no need to order them to appear again. We're simply recognizing that Mr. Walker and Mr. Gingras will appear here for two hours at a publicly televised meeting and that it will be incorporated into the study.
We would hear from government officials, civil society and experts from other jurisdictions, like the European Union, Australia and also the United States, that have experienced tactics that are similar to what has happened in Canada. We note that the Department of Justice in the United States is taking antitrust actions against Google.
One meeting would be allocated to the study of tech giants' abuse of power around the world. We'd hear from domestic and international antitrust and competition experts.
Basically, this is a motion that I think would enable us to delve deeper into the international field. This is not only about Bill . I think we can agree or disagree with Bill C-18 and still support this motion, because this motion speaks to larger issues of how very large companies use anti-competitive monopolistic tactics to seek to influence parliaments to meet their desires. This is not whether Bill C-18 is the right approach or the wrong approach. It's about how tech companies are tackling it and other similar laws around the world.
I hope we can find unanimous support for that motion.
I'm happy to listen to my colleagues.
I want to acknowledge the fact that Mr. Bittle put forward a motion and it's now been replaced by this motion from Mr. Housefather. This motion is much more appropriate, so I appreciate that, but I still have some concerns. No doubt about it, Meta and Google certainly are throwing around their weight, and that is concerning. I think the Canadian public is somewhat concerned, and I think Parliament is concerned.
I also have a concern, though, with regard to this motion and the precedent it sets. Under (I)(b)(i), it is compelling that:
Meta Platforms Inc., and its subsidiaries, be ordered to provide: (i) All internal and external communications (including but not limited to emails, texts or other forms of messages) related to actions it planned to take or options it considered or is considering in relation to all Canadian regulation since January 1, 2020, including that under Bill C-18, including but not limited to, restricting the sharing of news content on its platforms in Canada.
This reaches beyond the scope of looking at Meta and its decisions with regard to Bill . This is looking at its response to any government regulation or legislation.
I'd be curious as to Mr. Housefather's motivation behind that. I would also be curious with regard to the date, January 1, 2020. Normally, a date following an election would be chosen, or a date when the legislation, Bill , was brought forward, which was April 2022. This date of January 1, 2020.... I'm curious as to why that one has been chosen.
Thirdly, if we're asking for “all internal and external communications”, Meta could have been contacted, let's say, by a content creator or by a news outlet with regard to how Meta is going to respond to the government legislation. That correspondence, to my understanding, is scoped into this, so I am very concerned with regard to the implications this has for privacy and freedom of speech issues.
Furthermore, this will have an incredibly chilling effect, not only on the Canadian public, knowing that their words could be summoned, but also on businesses in Canada. Businesses need to be able to have conversations with regard to how they're going to respond to government legislation, and they should know that they're able to have those conversations internally without government surveillance. As soon as we start sending the message that it's okay for government to surveil or demand these types of communications, I think it puts a huge chilling effect on investment in this country, and I am very concerned about the precedent that sets for our nation going forward.
Absolutely. I'm happy to try to answer these questions.
The first thing, with respect to you, Ms. Gladu, and the documents, in terms of delivery date, I'm flexible if somebody wants to put a later date in terms of delivery of the documents. I think it would be useful to get them during the course of the study. I think an Order Paper question is different from at committees, where we have asked the government to deliver documents, and when the government delivers, it has to be translated, which usually causes the delays. Here, we're not asking them to translate. They would just provide us whatever they have, and we would have to translate it. I don't think March 31 is out of range, but I'm happy if you feel you want to propose an alternative date, like April 15 or April...I don't mind.
On Mrs. Thomas's points, it's understandable. The first one relates to the scope of what we're asking for. I think this is equivalent to what we asked of Google, and we all unanimously approved the Google motion. If there's something in there that is beyond Google....
The reason I put January 1, 2020 as a date was that the Google motion had no date, it just said anything going back. I thought that you shouldn't have to go further back than that, and I arbitrarily put January 1, 2020, which I think was the first year we started talking about a bill like Bill . Again, if there's an alternative date somebody wants to propose, I don't have a major issue with an alternative date. If it's January 1, 2021, versus January 1, 2020, I don't think I have a major issue with that.
Finally, in terms of the chilling effect, I think parliamentary committees frequently summon documents like this. Look at what was summoned from the WE Charity; look at what has been summoned from McKinsey at the OGGO committee; look at what we've summoned from sports federations, although they're a bit different. I don't think this is chilling, because again, number one, if there was a litigation—for example, the United States is taking antitrust action against Google—all these would have to be produced in the context of the litigation. Parliamentary committees in other countries, such as the United States, would summon documents like these relatively frequently, so I would again acknowledge there may be solicitor-client privilege and attorney-client privilege and litigation privilege that might attach, and if Google or Facebook have those issues, they'll identify them, and I think the committee will be flexible in addressing them.
Since this was the language largely approved for Google, hopefully that's okay. I didn't want to go further and I didn't want to go less, but again, I'm open to talking to you about wording and being flexible.