OTTAWA, Ontario – Hockey Canada officials should force members of the country’s gold-winning junior team to speak to third-party investigators about alleged sexual harassment four years ago, a legislator told officials during a hearing. Monday
One woman claimed that eight members of the 2018 World Junior Team sexually assaulted her at an event in June of the same year. Her case was settled out of court last month.
Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renee and President Scott Smith were called to testify before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa.
Smith, who took over as Renee’s CEO on July 1, told the committee that players on the junior team were “strongly encouraged” to speak to third-party investigators appointed by Hockey Canada. But interviews are not mandatory.
“Mr. Smith, if you want the real responsibility of Hockey Canada, you have to ask all players (including outside law enforcement agencies) to attend the interviews,” said Conservative MP Kevin Roff. “It’s yours … it’s unacceptable.”
Smith, who is also the chief executive of the National Sports Federation, said Hockey Canada “borrows” players from other leagues for international competitions.
“We have made some changes in our code of conduct,” he said. “We are now discussing whether we can strengthen the ability to force players to participate in investigations under our supervision.”
Sebastian Lemire, an MP from Block Quebecois, suggested in French that Hockey Canada would play without its logo for a year “so that people can think … the culture of Hockey Canada and your responsibility.” I believe (Hockey Canada) is John. “
Renee said Hockey Canada became aware of the alleged incident the next morning – June 19, 2018 – when a relative of the woman contacted her HR department and reported it to police in London, Ontario that evening.
Smith said it took four years for the story to come out and there has been no cover-up since TSN reported the details last month.
“The police were informed, we hired a third party investigator, we informed Sport Canada and we supported the young woman,” he said. “Cleaning something under the carpet is not a sign.”
Details of the deal with the woman have not been released, but Smith said the players who are alleged to be involved did not make financial contributions and did not use any government funds.
None of the allegations against the players have been confirmed in court.
Smith said London police had informed Hockey Canada that their criminal investigation was closed until February 2019. Meanwhile, Hockey Canada continued its investigation until September 2020.
“A lot of people are taking the allegations in the claim statement as fact,” Smith said. “We have a challenge of comprehensive efforts over a period of 26 months. We could not confirm what happened that evening. “
While many of the players in that world junior team are now in the league, the NHL is investigating itself, while Canada’s sports minister has ordered a forensic audit of Hockey Canada.
Conservative MP John Netter said of the alleged attack, “No one has been held responsible.” “No one has lost the privilege of wearing maple leaf on their jersey. … I heard mention of zero tolerance today. The wish came true.
“But if there really is a zero-tolerance situation … every player in that weekend in London must miss the opportunity and privilege to participate in that review or to be associated with Hockey Canada.”