NDP spokesperson calls for re-audit of Hockey Canada following allegations of exorbitant spending
NDP MP Peter Julian is urging Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge to order a new federal audit of Hockey Canada’s finances over the past eight years in response to allegations that the sports body’s executives have taken advantage of hotels, dinners and expensive jewelry.
Julian sent a letter to St-Onge on Tuesday regarding what he called « Hockey Canada’s lack of accountability and transparency in managing its expenses. »
Julian said a former Hockey Canada board member passed him inside information about the spending practices of the eight-member board.
In his letter, Julian referred to board dinners that can « cost upwards of $5,000, presidential suites for board members that cost upwards of $3,000 a night, and gold and silver rings. diamond for council members that cost over $3,000 each. »
“As Minister who oversees Sports Canada and Hockey Canada, it is your responsibility to ensure that Hockey Canada uses government funds and hockey parent registration fees responsibly and transparently,” added Julian.
Hockey Canada chief executive Scott Smith testified in July that « the board and our members have received a version of the championship rings from time to time and some staff members have performance related bonuses. medals ». He did not disclose the amounts.
Hockey Canada has been under intense public scrutiny since May for its use of a contingency fund – funded in part by player registration fees – to settle a $3.5 million lawsuit alleging members of the 2018 World Juniors team sexually assaulted an intoxicated woman.
The federal government froze funding for the hockey organization in June and ordered an audit to show government funding was not used to settle the lawsuit.
When asked by CBC News, Hockey Canada did not refute the figures cited by Julian for hotels, jewelry and dinners.
The hockey organization said its board of directors is made up of volunteers who « donate their time and energy » and that their expenses related to their duties – including « meeting, food and travel expenses » – are covered by the organization.
“As volunteers, administrators received gifts, including welcome packages when attending events or partner and sponsor meetings,” wrote Hockey Canada spokesperson Jeremy. Knight.
Knight said Hockey Canada issues credit cards to board members that are connected to a « travel expense reporting system » and « must be used strictly for pre-approved travel expenses. »
When board members visited the Northwest Territories in 2017, he said, they received traditional Indigenous footwear from Hockey North.
Hockey Canada also confirmed on Tuesday Postmedia’s report that for seven years the organization owned a luxurious two-bedroom condo in Maple Leaf Square in downtown Toronto for members’ use only. board of directors and staff. Hockey Canada said it sold the condo in 2017.
“We can confirm that the unit was purchased in 2010 to mitigate costs associated with staff and administrator travel to Toronto and was subsequently sold in 2017,” Knight wrote.
Knight said a third-party governance review will review this practice to « ensure » it is « in line » with other national sports organizations of a similar size. Hockey Canada commissioned former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell to conduct the review.
St-Onge’s office said she had previously requested a financial audit to determine whether public funds were used in Hockey Canada’s settlement of an alleged 2018 gang sexual assault.
Completion of the audit is one of three conditions the federal government has set for Hockey Canada to recover its funding.
Financial statements obtained by CBC News show the hockey organization received $14 million in support from the federal government in 2020 and 2021, including $3.4 million in emergency COVID-19 grants.
In 2021, the $8.3 million federal funding Hockey Canada received represented 13% of its $62 million annual funding. Sponsors and events provide about 50% of the organization’s revenue, says Hockey Canada’s website.
An outside firm is also conducting a financial review of Hockey Canada’s expenses reported to Canadian Heritage, its governance structure and its harassment and abuse management policies, St-Onge’s office said. Samson & Associés carries out this examination.
A parliamentary committee is holding public hearings into Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault allegations.
TSN reported last month that Julian planned to ask the former board member he spoke to – who he says wishes to remain confidential – to give evidence behind closed doors to MPs.