PM Justin Trudeau condemns Hockey Canada, calls handling of claims ‘unacceptable’

One day after Hockey Canada officials testedified in front of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on the organization’s role in the settlement of a sexual assault lawsuit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blasted the national governing body, calling the way the claims were handled “unacceptable.”

Trudeau, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, said that Canadians have stood up to sexual misconduct and harassment in the workplace and that Hockey Canada will get no special favors.

“Hockey Canada is no different,” Trudeau said. “We want to get to the bottom of this and all options are being considered to determine the next steps.”

On Monday, Hockey Canada officials provided hours of marriage to a young woman’s lawsuit, filed in April, that alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight hockey players in a London, Ontario hotel room following a Hockey Canada Foundation event in June 2018.

Among the most significant revelations from both Hockey Canada Scott Smith and outgoing CEO Tom Renney’s testimony were:

  • Hockey Canada does not know the identity of the eight John Doe defendants listed in the lawsuit’s statement of claim, despite having settled the lawsuit on behalf of those defendants, Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League.
  • Players on the 2018 U20 men’s junior team, which is identified in the suit, were asked to participate in an investigation conducted by a third-party firm, but were not required to do so.
  • Hockey Canada has dealt with one to two sexual assault allegations per year over the past five to six years.
  • At the time of the 2018 alleged incident, Hockey Canada’s code of conduct did not encompass off-ice conduct, an issue that officials said they will aim to rectify moving forward. Renney also acknowledged that supervision of players was insufficient and that the organization “fell short.”

The woman who filed the lawsuit has not spoken publicly and Hockey Canada declined to say whether there was a non-disclosure agreement included as part of the settlement which was agreed upon last month. However, Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge said that Renney told her there was indeed an NDA included.

Hockey Canada, which receives government funding, said no government monies or insurance premiums were used to resolve the case. Smith said that investments were liquidated to come up with the funds.

Multiple MPs who questioned the Hockey Canada officials implored the organization for more transparency and emphasized the need for it. The Committee has the option of calling additional witnesses, though it is not immediately clear if they plans to do so.

On Tuesday, St-Onge said she was “not satisfied” with what she heard from Hockey Canada and insisted the organization will be “held accountable,” according to Amanda Connolly, senior political reporter at Global News.

(Photo: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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