Riddled with questions for the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee, Hockey Canada bosses were forced to admit they had never been able to identify the eight players allegedly involved in a 2018 gang rape and that the athletes were under no obligation to cooperate. to the investigation. Nothing to lessen the grumbling about the body.
Both Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer of Hockey Canada, and Tom Renney, chief executive officer, looked pretty bad during the drill, in front of elected officials in Ottawa.
Even after many questions, there are still some gray areas regarding the events that allegedly took place on June 18-19, 2018, at a Hockey Canada Foundation gala in London.
The 26-month independent investigation by the sports federation has therefore not made it possible to identify the alleged perpetrators.
“Neither the investigation nor the London police were able to confirm who the accused were,” Smith said, while Renney recalled that the complainant had agreed to an out-of-court settlement and had not participated in the investigation.
“We can only respect his wishes,” he argued.
No public funds
Also, according to the two representatives of Hockey Canada, the public funds used to fund the organization were not used at any time, neither to settle the agreement out of court, nor to cover the legal costs incurred.
Smith also mentioned that Hockey Canada had done business well.
“You need to step back before suggesting that we’ve covered up the affair. The police were quickly notified. We have launched an investigation. We offered support to the young lady.
“The process we have gone through in this case is customary. Arrangements like this are common and are made to protect everyone involved. They arise from a mutual agreement. No one was forced to shut up,” he insisted.
Although Hockey Canada wanted to show its goodwill on the matter, Hockey Canada was peppered with questions about the fact that the 19 players who attended the events that went wrong in 2018 were not required to answer questions during the game.”
At this point, Renney told the committee that only four to six hockey players would have cooperated. Information Smith later contradicted by speaking instead of 12 to 13 players.
Be that as it may, it was enough for Hockey Canada to even be identified as an accomplice in this sexual assault case in the eyes of some politicians, including Sébastien Lemire, Member of Parliament for the Bloc Québécois.
“I notice from your reactions that you have been more or less proactive. You have made incomplete investigations and reports. You don’t know what happened, but you rushed to pay to cover it up.
“There is a certain kind of complicity that you show. I sincerely hope that you did not pressure the victim to achieve this amicable settlement. To me, in this story, you’re acting as John Doe 9,” he cursed, referring to the eight unidentified players.
– With Guillaume St-Pierre, Parliamentary Office
Too many unanswered questions
In the eyes of the elected officials who questioned the leaders of Hockey Canada, the appearance did not bring the expected clarification.
“I think that left a lot of questions unanswered,” said Peter Julian of the New Democratic Party.
“I think the fact that they didn’t force the players to participate in the investigation confuses a majority of Canadians. If you do research, everyone should be obliged to participate,” he complained in a press scrum afterwards.
Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer Scott Smith said the federation has had “one or two incidents” of sexual assault per year for the past five or six years. Two investigations are currently underway and the organization will not provide further details.
“This assault should be the last, but it doesn’t seem like it. There are still cases. They talked about a dozen cases and two investigations. It worries me. Hockey Canada has not taken all necessary measures,” said Mr. Julian.
Code of Conduct to Review
Hockey Canada is currently reviewing its code of conduct. This is another measure that does not seem to affect the elected members of the committee.
“What is the value of a code of conduct if you don’t participate? [à une enquête] when there are horrific allegations of sexual assault? asked Mr. Julian.
In this regard, Mr. Smith disclosed that the future Code of Conduct for Hockey—Canada may require players to cooperate with such investigations. He also admitted that the organization was “probably lagging behind” in educating players in terms of preventing such events.
The committee has not yet decided on the next steps, but it does not appear that removing subsidies from Hockey Canada is part of the solution.
“They made a mistake, but we’re going to punish young players across the country if we don’t give money to national institutions like Hockey Canada or Soccer Canada. The way to ensure a safe environment for everyone is not to have a national association of funds,” said Anthony Housefather, Montreal MP for the Liberal Party of Canada.
– With Guillaume St-Pierre