Hockey Canada says it needs to “do more” to build a safer culture in the sport.
It remains to be seen what it looks like.
The national organization released a brief statement on Thursday following the federal government’s decision 24 hours earlier to freeze public funds in response to its handling of an alleged sexual assault and an out-of-court settlement.
Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge said Wednesday that Hockey Canada will only recover taxpayer money once officials produce an incomplete report from a third-party law firm hired to investigate the incident. from four years ago, which allegedly involved eight players at a gala in London. , Have.
St-Onge added that Hockey Canada must also become a signatory to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, a new government body with the power to independently investigate complaints of abuse and impose penalties.
“Hockey Canada is deeply committed and actively working to foster a culture in our sport where everyone involved feels safe and of which all Canadians can be proud,” spokesperson Esther Madziya said in a statement that also acknowledged the Minister’s funding conditions.
“We recognize that as leaders we need to do more — and we are committed to doing so. In the days and months ahead, Canadians can expect to hear more about our work in this area.
Hockey Canada President Scott Smith and outgoing CEO Tom Renney were challenged by lawmakers on Parliament Hill earlier this week during a meeting of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage which considered the how the organization handled the 2018 incident.
“We were all waiting for answers to all the questions, the many questions we have about how they handled the whole situation when they testified,” St-Onge told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, we haven’t received many responses.”
Hockey Canada quietly settled the lawsuit last month after a woman claimed she was assaulted by members of the 2018 gold medal-winning world junior hockey team at a gala and golf event.
The woman, now 24, was seeking $3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and Players Anonymous.
Details of the settlement have not been made public, but Smith said Monday that Hockey Canada provided the funds, adding that no government money was used. St-Onge ordered a check to make sure this is indeed the case.
None of the allegations against Players Anonymous have been proven in court.
St-Onge said she only learned about the situation during a phone call with Renney a few days before TSN ran the story last month. Hockey Canada said it informed Sport Canada of the situation in June 2018.
Following the government’s funding announcement on Wednesday, the House of Commons unanimously approved a Bloc Québécois motion to conduct an independent inquiry that will examine Hockey Canada’s handling of the allegations.
Federal money represents 6% of Hockey Canada’s coffers, according to the organization’s figures, after business development and partnerships (43%), funding bodies (14%), insurance premiums (13 %) and interest income (10% cent).
WATCH | Hockey Canada denies public funds used to settle sexual assault allegations:
Players attending the event in London
Hockey Canada hired Toronto law firm Henein Hutchison LLP to conduct its investigation, but Smith and Renney told MPs that while players at the event in London were ‘strongly encouraged’ to participate, it was not not mandatory.
Renney initially testified that between four and six of the 19 players in question spoke to investigators before Smith later said the number was 12 or 13.
“Their mechanism (to investigate) is not working well,” St-Onge said.
Hockey Canada has repeatedly said the woman refused to speak to police or their investigators. Smith and Renney reiterated on Monday that the woman also chose not to identify the players.
Officials added that Hockey Canada still does not know the identity of the eight players in question.
Smith said London police informed Hockey Canada that their criminal investigation was closed in February 2019. The independent investigation concluded in September 2020, but Renney said the report was incomplete and should not be released despite the fact that it contained recommendations.
The NHL, which said it only recently learned of the allegations, is investigating itself because some of the players in question are now in the league.
Hockey Canada received $14 million from Ottawa in 2020 and 2021, including $3.4 million in COVID-19 grants, according to government records obtained by CBC and TSN.
Smith testified that Hockey Canada had reported three complaints of sexual assault in recent years, including the London incident, but would not discuss the other two before the committee.