One day after Hockey Canada officials testified before the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee about the organization’s role in resolving a sexual assault lawsuit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blew up the national governing body, calling the way the allegations were handled “unacceptable”.
Trudeau, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, said Canadians have opposed sexual misconduct and workplace harassment and that Hockey Canada will not receive any particular favors.
“Hockey Canada is no different,” said Trudeau. “We want to go all the way and all options are being considered to determine the next steps.”
On Monday, Hockey Canada officials gave hours of testimony regarding the lawsuit of a young woman filed in April that she was sexually assaulted by eight hockey players in a London, Ontario hotel room. following a Hockey Canada Foundation event in June 2018.
Among the most significant revelations from both Hockey Canada President Scott Smith and outgoing CEO Tom Renney’s testimony were:
- Hockey Canada does not know the identity of the eight John Doe defendants listed in the lawsuit complaint statement, despite having resolved the lawsuit on behalf of those defendants, Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League.
- Players from the 2018 U20 men’s youth team, identified in the lawsuit, were asked to participate in an investigation conducted by a third-party club, but were not required to do so.
- Hockey Canada has faced one to two sexual assault charges per year for the past five to six years.
- At the time of the alleged 2018 incident, Hockey Canada’s code of conduct did not include off-ice conduct, a problem officials said they will aim to correct moving forward. Renney also acknowledged that player supervision was insufficient and that the organization “was not up to par.”
The woman who filed the lawsuit did not speak publicly and Hockey Canada declined to say if there was a nondisclosure agreement included as part of the deal agreed last month. However, Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge said Renney told her there was indeed an NDA included.
Hockey Canada, which receives government funding, said no government money or insurance premiums were used to settle the case. Smith said the investments were liquidated to find the funds.
St-Onge told TSN Wednesday that the Canadian government will freeze federal funding for Hockey Canada until it signs up with a new federal agency that can investigate abuse complaints and issue penalties. According to financial statements obtained by the CBC, Hockey Canada received $ 14 million in federal government support in 2020 and 2021.
Several lawmakers who questioned Hockey Canada officials begged the organization for greater transparency and stressed the need. The Committee has the option of summoning additional witnesses, although it is not immediately clear whether they intend to do so.
(Photo: AP / Marcio Jose Sanchez)