New Hockey Canada board must protect victims, not just reputation, NB official says
A hockey fan, former blue-line defenseman and self-proclaimed « governance geek » of 25 years says Hockey Canada’s culture problem is long overdue.
Haley Flaro is Vice-Chair of WorkSafeNB’s Board of Directors, Chair of its Governance Committee and Executive Director of Ability New Brunswick. She played defense growing up before retiring from injury and was immersed in the sport.
Hockey Canada’s CEO and Board of Directors have resigned following a public outcry and a massive exodus of sponsors on how he handled suspected group sexual assault involving members of the 2018 Junior Men’s National Team. Leaders also disclosed that the organization had paid $8.9 million in settlements to 21 sexual assault plaintiffs since 1989, using a reserve fund.
Flaro said the resignation shows governance needs significant repair.
She said that if the organization paid close attention to its « risk register » and actively looked for issues that could harm people and not just reputation, the allegations of sexual abuse should have been a sufficient clue to make something years ago.
Flaro said it appears the organization was « more concerned about the reputational risk versus the risk that these women and plaintiffs were highlighting, » she said.
« There’s also abuse in sport, of those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual. We see all kinds of different issues that arise, and everyone needs to make sure there are really clear processes in place to put bring these issues to light and have them investigated.”
She said the composition of the board is often at the root of a cultural problem. A strong board should include people with experience in risk management, and should be diverse and represent people from different backgrounds, abilities and genders.
« If you have allegations that keep coming in about sexual abuse, that’s a flag. And so, you know, what education is needed? Because it’s not right for that to happen, » he said. she declared.
Hockey Canada said it has been working to diversify its board over the past few years. In 2019, the organization approved a bylaws amendment that requires the board to include at least two men and two women.
Flaro said that when she played the sport, there was no place for women. That was 25 years ago, she said, and that rule change in 2019 was not enough.
“It was a very isolating and exclusionary environment to play hockey. It was seen as a man’s game, and that is changing. It has changed, but we are not there yet,” she said.
As calls for change grew, the organization also commissioned former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell to review its governance structure.
CBC News has reviewed and verified portions of Cromwell’s more than 100-page preliminary report, in which he recommends sweeping changes.
According to CBC’s review, the report found that Hockey Canada did not have policies and procedures in place to govern the use of its reserve funds, did not fully disclose its funds in financial records and violated rules. failing to notify members of large payments.
Flaro said some of that money should have gone to educating players and setting up a process for those who have been abused.
« It should have been picked up by their annual audits of their funds…I’m just troubled by that. Why was it silenced. »
The organization will elect a new board by December.