Hockey Canada to be investigated after settling sexual assault complaints

OTTAWA — Following revelations that it has paid millions of dollars to sexual assault victims, Canada’s hockey governing body announced ...


OTTAWA — Following revelations that it has paid millions of dollars to sexual assault victims, Canada’s hockey governing body announced Thursday that a former Supreme Court justice will investigate the organization.

The appointment of judge Thomas Cromwell comes amid growing calls to overhaul the organization, Hockey Canada, and transform the often sexualized culture that surrounds a sport that dominates all others in the country.

Brand sponsors have dropped Hockey Canada and the federal government has frozen millions of its funding after a sports television network reported in May that court documents showed the group paid C$3.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a woman who accused World Junior Team members of sexual assault in 2018.

After that, representatives of Hockey Canada testified before a House of Commons committee that it had used a special fund to cover $7.6 million to settle nine sexual assault and abuse complaints since 1989.

Further allegations of sexual assault involving Canada’s 2003 World Junior Championship team emerged in July. Many Canadians, including some politicians, blame Hockey Canada’s lack of oversight of the players, who were 18 to 20 at the time of the charges, for the incidents.

The 2022 Junior World Championshipwhich was postponed in December due to Covid disruptions, will begin Tuesday in the Alberta cities of Edmonton and Red Deer.

Mr. Cromwell’s investigation, which Hockey Canada says will begin immediately, is part of a series that has been launched in recent weeks.

Last month, Hockey Canada announced it would hire an independent reviewer to determine what happened between an unnamed woman and players in London, Ont., in 2018. Those findings will be reviewed by a panel of judges. current and retired who will impose penalties which could include lifetime suspensions from the sport for players.

Police in London, a city southwest of Toronto, also reopened a criminal investigation into the 2018 episode.

“These revelations demonstrate a deep and toxic culture that allows people to act with impunity,” said Pascale St-Onge, the country’s sports minister. told a committee of the House of Commons during a hearing in which she questioned the suitability of the current leadership of the governing body. “We know we haven’t done enough to address the actions of some members of the 2018 Junior National Team or to end the culture of toxic behavior in our sport. Hockey Canada, the whole country is watching. »

Ms St.-Onge added that she would not accept “just a public relations exercise” from Hockey Canada and urged the organization to also review racism in sport, as well as how it handles violence on ice and concussions. Several weeks ago, she ordered an audit to determine whether public funds had been used for out-of-court settlements. The government provides approximately six percent of Hockey Canada’s revenue.

Hockey Canada has apologized to Canadians in an unsigned statement.

“We have heard Canadians loud and clear and are committed to making the changes necessary to enable us to be the organization Canadians expect,” the statement said.

“We know we haven’t done enough to address the actions of some members of the 2018 Junior National Team or to end the culture of toxic behavior in our game,” he added. “We know we need to do more to address behaviors, on and off the ice, that conflict with what Canadians want hockey to be and undermine the many good things the game brings to our country. . »

The review by Mr Cromwell and two lawyers will not focus on the behavior of players, coaches and staff, whether on or off the ice. Instead, it will look at questions like whether there is sufficient control over how money is distributed from a “national equity fund” that had been used to settle lawsuits, and whether Hockey Canada’s volunteer Board of Directors adequately oversees operations.

The investigation will also review Hockey Canada’s bylaws and management structure and provide interim findings and recommendations by November.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Hockey Canada to be investigated after settling sexual assault complaints
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