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Hockey Canada wants to ensure merchandise made by ethical suppliers

Hockey Canada, the sport’s national governing body, is looking at ways to ensure that its hockey merchandise is sourced from ethical suppliers.

Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Hockey Canada, the sport's national governing body, is looking at ways to ensure that its hockey merchandise is sourced from ethical suppliers.

The idea was presented last week to the executive committee of Hockey Canada's board of directors.

The move was prompted by recent concerns about "what's happening with factories in Bangladesh," said one of the board's vice-chairs, Terry Ledingham.

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Mr. Ledingham said Hockey Canada's chief operating officer, Scott Smith, is spearheading the effort and staffers will contact various watchdog groups and report to the board next month.

The policy would apply to merchandise carrying the Hockey Canada logo, such as hockey sweaters, but also jackets, hoodies, caps, mittens, tuques and earmuffs.

Unveiled earlier this month, the Team Canada uniforms that will be worn at the Winter Games in Sochi were produced by Nike, in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee.

The Team Canada outfits will be made in Canada but replicas sold to fans will be manufactured in Indonesia.

Earlier this year, Nike had to investigate allegations by labour activists that its Indonesia suppliers were trying to evade paying workers the minimum wage. The probe concluded that the claims were inaccurate, Nike spokeswoman Claire Rankine said.

Outside of Olympic years, merchandising bring little revenues, but it is important for Hockey Canada to be a role model, Mr. Ledingham said, adding that the organization's responsibilities have expanded beyond the traditional confines of the sport.

"I thought the game was about hockey sticks, a puck and individuals, but now we have documents out there about cyberbullying, criminal-record checks, defibrillators, mouthguards."

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Concerns about ethical sourcing in the garment industry's supply chain have increased following a series of fatal accidents in Bangladesh over the past 11 months. In April, 1,129 Bangladeshi workers were crushed to death when eight floors of factories collapsed at the Rana Plaza complex, where some Joe Fresh products were manufactured.

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