Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blasted Hockey Canada’s leadership for their handling of a sexual assault fund
Trudeau, the prime minister, is sympathetic to Canadians’ distaste for Hockey Canada.
On Tuesday, after it was revealed that the federation has a fund to deal with sexual assault charges, Trudeau lashed out at the organization’s leadership.
He told reporters in event at Bowen Island, British Columbia, “I think right now it’s hard for anyone in Canada to have faith or trust in anyone at Hockey Canada,”
There is no acceptable explanation for what we are discovering.
Since it was revealed in May that Hockey Canada had secretly settled a lawsuit filed by a woman alleging that eight unnamed players, including members of the country’s 2018 world junior team, assaulted her after a gala in London, Ont., four years ago, the organisation has been under intense scrutiny.
As a result of the organization’s handling of the case and settlement, it has lost federal funding and the support of several major firms.
Trudeau, speaking in French, called the situation “completely outrageous” and he reiterated that federal funding would remain on hold “pending significant reforms, transparency and accountability.”
On Monday, the Canadian Press was the first to discover that Hockey Canada had kept the money, which comes from membership fees collected across the country, to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual assault claims.
This information was included in an affidavit filed by Glen McCurdie in his capacity as vice president of insurance and risk management for Hockey Canada in July 2021, and submitted as part of an Ontario player’s lawsuit.
Affidavit information from Hockey Canada states, “Hockey Canada maintains a reserve in a segregated account to pay for any such uninsured liabilities as they arise.” This includes prospective claims for previous sexual assault, which are not covered by insurance.
The National Equity Fund, as Hockey Canada dubbed it in a statement released on Tuesday, will pay for “a broad range of expenses related to safety, wellness, and equity initiatives.”
Physical injury, harassment, and sexual misconduct are all examples of incidents that are not typically covered by insurance, but “The fund is also used to pay for the organization’s insurance premiums and to cover any claims not otherwise covered by insurance policies, including those related to physical injury, harassment and sexual misconduct,” the statement explained.
Moreover, Hockey Canada stated that the fund was “established in a manner consistent with reserve funds maintained by other large national organisations.”
“When I think about the culture that is apparently permeating the highest orders of that organisation, I can understand why so many parents, why so many Canadians who take such pride in our national winter sport, are absolutely disgusted by what’s going on,” Trudeau said on Tuesday. What we are learning is unacceptable on many levels, and we will continue to speak out strongly against it as a government.
And most importantly in our insistence that major changes be made.
Both the alleged assault and the payoff were initially reported by TSN in May, and last month Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa, saying that no government funds were used in the settlement.
The woman has been suing Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, and the unnamed players for more than $3.5 million in damages.
Legal proceedings have not proven any of the charges.
Since several of the players from the 2018 world junior squad are now in the NHL, the league is conducting its own investigation without mandating player participation.
Forwards for the St. Louis Blues Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou both issued statements on Tuesday denying any involvement in the incident.
Similarly, Anaheim Ducks centre Sam Steel’s agent issued a statement claiming his client “did not engage in any of the misconduct that has been described in the media.”
Taylor Raddysh, a winger for the Chicago Blackhawks, revealed in a Twitter post that he found out about the charges this year.
Cale Makar, Victor Mete, Conor Timmins, and Jonah Gadjovich are the other four players on that team who have denied any involvement.
McCurdie, who retired in December, missed last month’s committee proceedings as his father passed away. However, the committee has subpoenaed him to appear at the upcoming round of hearings, which will begin on Tuesday.
In a carefully worded open letter posted last week, Hockey Canada made several commitments, including a vow to restart an incomplete third-party investigation into the alleged assault and a full governance review.
Hockey Canada admitted last week that it “We know we have not done enough to address the actions of some members of the 2018 national junior team or to end the culture of toxic behaviour within our game,” to address the actions of some members of the 2018 national junior team or to end the culture of toxic behaviour within the sport.
We sincerely regret for that.
During his first month on the job as CEO, Smith, who took over for Tom Renney on July 1, testified on Parliament Hill about three sexual assault accusations filed against Hockey Canada in recent years.
He went on to say that every year for the past five or six years, there have been two or more allegations of sexual misconduct.
According to Hockey Canada’s open letter, from now on, all players will be required to take part in an independent inquiry into the London incident, and those who refuse will be barred from all team-related activities and programmes.
According to Smith’s testimony from last month, “12 or 13” of the 19 players were interviewed before the first, unfinished inquiry wrapped up in September 2020.
Though she did not cooperate with the initial investigation or speak with police, the woman “will be participating in the Hockey Canada investigation.” as her attorney said in an email to the woman’s teammates last week.
Disturbed that “I’m very, very concerned by the culture, which apparently has reached the highest levels of the organisation,” Trudeau expressed his worries about Hockey Canada on Tuesday in French.
“It’s essential — really crucial — that there be a new approach and that there be oversight, responsibility, accountability.”