The chairman of the board of directors of Hockey Canada has resigned.
Michael Brind’Amour has resigned effective immediately, Hockey Canada said Saturday in a statement.
The organization is under intense scrutiny for its handling of sexual assault allegations against members of former youth men’s teams.
“I have listened carefully and carefully to Canadians’ feedback on the culture of our sport and our organization, and on our actions and leadership,” Brind’Amour said in the statement. “I understand that the actions we have taken in recent weeks are part of the solution.
“My last term ends in November 2022 and I know there is no need to wait for a new era. Immediate action is essential to address the significant challenges facing our organization and our sport, which our Action Plan works to achieve.
“I would not be able to carry out this renewal.”
Brind’Amour was elected chairman of the board in 2018.
The federal government froze Hockey Canada funding after it was revealed the organization had quietly settled a lawsuit with a woman alleging she had been sexually assaulted by members of the 2018 junior men’s team at the Hockey Canada gala in London, Ontario. , this year.
Since then, Hockey Canada has said that members of the 2003 youth team are under investigation for alleged sexual assault in Nova Scotia.
Canadian Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge is withholding funds until she is satisfied that Hockey Canada meets her conditions, which were a financial audit of the organization, the production of recommendations from a law firm review independent and an action plan for change, as well as the signing in the office of the new sports integrity commissioner.
Sheldon Kennedy, a former NHL player and victims’ rights advocate, was one of those who called for the resignation of Hockey Canada’s leadership.
Brind’Amour is the first to do so.
“We’re starting to see cracks in the fortress, and that’s how the light comes in,” St-Onge said Saturday in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where he met with provincial and territorial sports leaders on the eve of the Canada Games.
“The Canadians have sent a clear message to Hockey Canada that real leadership change is needed and this is at all levels within the organization.
“I also agree with Michael Brind’Amour’s statement today… that there is no need to wait for a new era and that immediate action is essential.
“I still believe, like many, that more diversity is needed to address the culture of silence and toxic masculinity within the organization and the sport.”
Brind’Amour’s resignation also follows Hockey Canada’s appointment on Thursday of former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell to review the governance of the country’s hockey governing body.
The review is expected to provide interim recommendations before Hockey Canada’s annual general meeting in November.
Brind’Amour said he is leaving confident that Cromwell will take on that job “to help us make the necessary changes. I am confident that the recommendations will guide the organization towards a future of desired change.”
In addition, Canada’s 13 provincial hockey federations earlier this week requested an “extraordinary meeting” with the embattled national body.
Led by Hockey Quebec, the 10 provincial and three territorial associations want more information on the handling of sexual assault allegations.
Hockey Canada had maintained a fund that relied on minor hockey membership dues to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims.
The organization has stated that it will no longer use its “national equity fund” to resolve sexual assault claims.
Provincial and territorial hockey associations have threatened to withhold payment with no response.
“It’s not my job to speak for the Ontario Hockey Federation,” Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Neil Lumsden said at Saturday’s news conference.
“But it’s like (St-Onge) said, it’s our job to eliminate unacceptable behavior of any kind in the sport. Our job, and as we’ve talked about for a long time, is to find ways to do that and to do it the right way.”
Hockey Canada’s board of directors will meet in the coming days to determine the next steps following Brind’Amour’s resignation and appoint an interim president, the organization said in its statement.
The next board election is scheduled for the annual general meeting in November.
“The board needs to reassess whether the people that are on the board are the right people to implement that change,” St-Onge said.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 6, 2022.