Olympic champion Marnie McBean says she’s been asked to join Hockey Canada’s watchdog group

A Canadian Olympic champion says she was asked to serve on a Hockey Canada oversight committee, but the offer was withdrawn after she pushed for a leadership change in response to the sex abuse scandal that rocked the organization in recent months.

Rower and three-time Olympic gold medalist Marnie McBean said she was approached by top PR firm Navigator earlier this month.

McBean said he was asked to serve on a special committee of independent experts to monitor and provide advice on Hockey Canada’s previously announced plan to eliminate « toxic » behavior in sport.

TSN first reported the offer to McBean on Thursday.

McBean told CBC News on Friday that she made it clear to the company that she would consider joining the committee if Hockey Canada’s top executives were removed.

Michael Brind’Amour is the only board member to announce his resignation since the scandal broke. Brind’Amour said his final term was due to end in November, but « immediate action is essential to address the significant challenges facing our organization and our sport. »

“They knew my acceptance threshold”

McBean said that several days after his initial discussion with Navigator, the company said other senior officials would stay on and McBean’s offer to join the committee was rescinded.

« I felt like when Navigator withdrew the offer, because they knew my acceptance threshold wouldn’t be met by Hockey Canada, they were also disappointed; they had anticipated the opposite, » said McBean in an email to CBC News.

Navigator and Hockey Canada have not yet responded to requests for comment submitted Thursday.

Navigator is a well-known crisis management company. Earlier this year, the Ottawa Police Service tapped the company to help then-Chief Peter Sloly manage messages about the ongoing Freedom Convoy occupation. Sloly resigned before the end of this crisis.

McBean said she was first approached by Navigator manager Adam Vaughan, a former Liberal MP.

In May, Hockey Canada reached a settlement with a young woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted in London, Ont. in 2018 by eight Canadian Hockey League (CHL) players, including members of the World Junior Team.

Halifax police then announced they had opened an investigation into an allegation of gang sexual assault involving players from the 2003 World Junior Hockey team.

According to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Quebec City police have reopened their investigation into an alleged sexual assault eight years ago involving four Gatineau Olympiques players in 2014.

Sport Canada — an arm of the federal Department of Heritage — froze its funding to Hockey Canada as sponsors dropped out.

The action plan released by Hockey Canada in July includes the establishment by the end of September of a centralized system for monitoring and reporting abuse complaints. He said the results will be released annually to « hold Hockey Canada accountable. »

The members of the special committee must be appointed by September 12, according to the action plan.

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