MPs begin another two days of hearings on Hockey Canada sexual assault settlement

More Hockey Canada officials will appear before a parliamentary committee this week as fallout continues over allegations that players from two World Junior Championship teams committed gang sexual assault in 2003 and 2018.

The House of Commons heritage committee called two days of meetings to try to unravel what happened when the organization learned of an alleged group sexual assault following a gala in 2018 involving eight unidentified players.

Hockey’s national governing body has been under intense scrutiny since TSN first reported the deal in May. That grew on Friday when news broke of another indictment related to the 2003 team.

The federal government cut off funding and ordered an audit, and as a result, several corporate sponsors also stopped their funding.

Scott Smith, the president and chief operating officer of Hockey Canada, and Tom Renney, the recently retired chief executive, were questioned by MPs during a committee meeting last month. Both are expected to return on Wednesday.

MPs will also hear from a partner in the law firm that conducted the Hockey Canada investigation into the 2018 allegations, CHL President Dan McKenzie, and former Hockey Canada Vice President of Insurance and Risk Management Glen McCurdie. .

Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge will appear on Tuesday.

The committee will also hear from the president and CEO of insurance firm BFL Canada and commissioners from the QMJHL, WHL and OHL.

The meetings come a day after players from Canada’s most recent Olympic and world women’s hockey teams demanded a “thorough and transparent investigation” into the allegations, saying the organization has a lot to do to address “behavior.” toxic” in sport.

“Once the full truth is known, Hockey Canada and its elected board must ensure that all steps are taken and appropriate measures are put in place to ensure that this type of behavior is never again accepted and never repeated,” the officials said. players in a statement. Monday open letter.

Hockey Canada responded to the accusations by saying that it created a plan to combat the toxic culture.

It includes the implementation of a centralized monitoring and reporting system for abuse complaints, which will be operational in September. He said the results will be released annually to “hold Hockey Canada accountable.”

He also said an independent board will be appointed by September 15 to ensure his plan is implemented.

In May, it was revealed that the sport’s national governing body learned of an alleged assault in 2018 the morning after a gala in London, Ontario, attended by players from the gold medal-winning world junior team.

The woman at the center of the case filed a lawsuit for damages of just over $3.5 million on behalf of Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the unnamed players. Hockey Canada quickly settled the case for an undisclosed amount.

Details of the settlement, including the identities of the whistleblower and the men involved, have not been made public.

During a committee hearing in June, Hockey Canada officials said they had no knowledge of what happened the night of the alleged assault and did not know the identities of the players involved.

Smith told the committee that Hockey Canada has reported three allegations of sexual assault in recent years, but did not discuss the other two in front of the committee. He added that there have been as many as two allegations of sexual misconduct each in the last five or six years.

The parliamentarians of the committee took issue with the lack of transparency around the accusations. London police investigated in 2018 but did not press charges. An independent investigation by a law firm hired by Hockey Canada ended without a final report because some players did not participate.

It is now reopening that third-party investigation and says player participation will be mandatory. Anyone who refuses will be banned from all activities and programs.

London police have ordered an internal review of their investigation and the NHL is also investigating.

The woman’s attorney said in an email two weeks ago that his client, who was not involved in the 2018 investigation or spoke to police, “will be involved in the Hockey Canada investigation and will not comment to the media at this time.” .

Last Friday, the organization revealed that it was made aware of allegations of a group sexual assault involving players from Team Canada at the 2003 tournament in Halifax.

Hockey Canada said members of its staff heard a rumor about “something wrong with the 2003 World Juniors” two weeks ago, but only received details from TSN on Thursday.

Hockey Canada said it immediately contacted Sport Canada and police. Halifax Regional Police have opened an investigation.

None of the accusations have been proven in court. Several players from the 2018 and 2003 teams have issued public statements in recent weeks denying involvement and saying they will cooperate with investigations.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 26, 2022.

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