Trudeau: Hockey Canada needs a ‘real reckoning’ in wake of scandal

Justin Trudeau wants to see a change in Hockey Canada.

As the federation continues to grapple with the fallout from its handling of an alleged sexual assault and an out-of-court settlement, the premier said Thursday that the sport’s national body “has to do a lot” to win back the trust of Canadians.

“We need to see Hockey Canada demonstrating a level of transparency, accountability (and) understanding of the situation they are facing,” Trudeau told reporters at an event in Elmsdale, NS. “There needs to be a real reckoning with what we saw from that organization, and deliberate blindness to something that other organizations have grappled with, struggled with, but made good decisions about.

“Unlike what Hockey Canada has been doing.”

The federation has been under fire since news broke in May that a woman alleged eight players, including members of the 2018 world junior team, sexually assaulted her after a gala event in London, Ontario, four years ago.

The woman was seeking more than $3.5 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the unidentified players.

Details of the settlement are not public and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

It also emerged this week that Hockey Canada has been using its so-called “National Equity Fund,” which is supported by membership dues collected from across the country, to settle sexual assault claims.

“Their behavior in recent years, and indeed in recent months, has not been worthy of an organization that embodies so many hopes and dreams for young Canadians, boys and girls, for sport, for healthy living,” he said. Trudeau. .

“Many parents entrust their children to this organization and the organizations that are derived from it.”

Hockey Canada, which said in an open letter last week that it was reopening an incomplete third-party investigation into the London incident and is committed to a governance review, announced Wednesday that, effective immediately, the practice of using that fund for sexual misconduct claims would be detained

Trudeau, who also criticized the organization’s leadership earlier this week, called the move a step in the right direction but added later: “I think Hockey Canada will have to do a lot more before Canadian parents like me start trusting them. .”

Details of the fund, which were not included as part of the organization’s annual reports, are included in a July 2021 affidavit sworn by Glen McCurdie, who was then Hockey Canada’s vice president of insurance and risk management, as part of an initiated claim. for an injured player in Ontario.

McCurdie’s affidavit stated: “Hockey Canada maintains a reserve in a segregated account to pay for any uninsured liability as it arises.” He goes on to say that “uninsured liabilities include potential claims for historical sexual abuse.”

Meanwhile, London police have ordered an internal review of the force’s investigation into the alleged sexual assault, which closed in February 2019.

The organization saw its federal funding cut off and corporate sponsorships halted after news of the alleged assault and settlement emerged, which were first reported by TSN.

Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith and his predecessor Tom Renney, who testified before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa last month, will return to Parliament Hill next week as MPs continue to pressure the federation under fire. to get answers.

Smith, Renney, McCurdie and Canadian Hockey League President Dan MacKenzie will testify Wednesday along with commissioners from the country’s top three junior circuits.

Barry Lorenzetti, president and CEO of insurance provider BFL Canada, and Hockey Canada Foundation President Dave Andrews are also scheduled to testify before the committee on Wednesday.

Danielle Robitaille of Henein Hutchison LLP, the law firm that conducted an incomplete third-party investigation for Hockey Canada, is expected to appear Tuesday along with Minister for Sport Pascal St-Onge and officials from Sport Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Smith, Renney, McCurdie, MacKenzie, Courteau, Branch, Robison and Andrews will appear before the committee under subpoena.

Smith, who is also president of Hockey Canada, replaced Renney as CEO on July 1.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 21, 2022.

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