(Ottawa) “Flawed, inappropriate, outdated” leadership at Hockey Club Canada is prompting Sports Minister Pascal St Ong to suspend federal funding. And if the organization riddled with allegations of gang rape wants to regain access to public funds, it will have to show its credentials.
Posted at 12:29 pm
Updated at 3:49 PM.
The punishment was announced on Wednesday, two days after the organization’s top leaders testified before the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee in Ottawa.
We didn’t get many answers during this appearance, but what we learned about their handling of the event is very upsetting and deeply disturbing.
Pascal Saint Ong. Sports Minister
She was not kind to the organization, which she accused on Monday of perpetuating a “culture of silence.”
“They must arrive in 2022, change the culture and adopt best practices,” the minister said at a press briefing in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.
Hockey Canada will have to meet two conditions to reopen federal funds.
As a first step, they should disclose the recommendations of Hanin and Hutchison, which conducted the independent investigation, and “the concrete details of their plan to implement the change.”
Next, they must become signatories to the Office of the Sports Integrity Commissioner, which launched the first phase of its operations on June 20.
As long as Hockey Canada does not comply with these terms, it “will not receive any further payments or new funding from Sport Canada,” the minister said.
The freeze was first announced in an interview with TSN, where the story was shown for the first time.
When she left the Parliamentary Committee Chamber on Monday evening, Pascal Saint-Hong had not yet closed the door to the idea of cutting supplies to Canada Hockey, without indicating her intention to take swift action.
Rather, she insisted on the importance of completing the financial audit that began when the case erupted.
“The leverage I use to shed as much light as possible on this story is the financial review that is currently underway. […] “We will continue to scrutinize, and nothing is ruled out,” she said.
The minister explained that if the government chooses to freeze its funding rather than withdraw its funding entirely, it is because Hockey Canada is more of a junior men’s team.
“You know, there’s also women’s hockey, Paralympic teams. So far, it’s jelly. They have to comply with both requirements, and we’ll re-evaluate after that.”
Hockey Canada did not react to the announcement of this punishment at the time of this publication, around 3:30 p.m., and the Toronto law firm did not have Henein and Hutchison.
At the committee table last Monday, no elected official was satisfied with the explanations given by top Hockey Canada officials.
Among other things, they jumped when they learned that Hockey Canada had signed the friendly agreement check on behalf of eight former Canadian Hockey League (CHL) players whose identities are not known.
Scott Smith, president of Hockey Canada, said after the committee meeting on Monday.
They were also shocked to learn that not only had no athlete been forced to participate in the investigation of these events dating back to the spring of 2018, but that there had also been other cases of alleged sexual misconduct by players in the past five or six years.
In this regard, Minister Saint Ong said: “I cannot accept that this is the norm in our national sports organizations, and Canadians should not.”
As TSN first reported, the out-of-court settlement came weeks after the alleged victim filed a $3.55 million lawsuit on April 20 against eight former CHL players, against the league and against Hockey Canada.
An independent investigation is required
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, a motion by the Quebecoa bloc calling for an independent investigation into the case was unanimously approved.
We want to know “whether this is a single event or whether there are loopholes in the way Hockey Canada handles complaints of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other types of reported misconduct,” according to the wording of the proposal by MNA Sébastien Lemire.