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OTTAWA — The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has issued subpoenas for witnesses from Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League and requested emails and text messages for hearings scheduled for July 26 and 27 as part of an investigation into how Hockey Canada handled the accusations of sexual assault.
Summons to attend were also issued to former Hockey Canada Vice President of Risk Management Glen McCurdie, Sport Canada’s Nicole Mulligan and representatives from Hockey Canada’s affiliated leagues.
Called as witnesses for the hearings were representatives of Hockey Canada’s outside investigator into the incident, the law firm Henein Hutchison LLP; the Minister of Sports Pascale St-Onge; and President of the Hockey Canada insurance company BFL Canada, Barry Lorenzetti. One MP confirmed that witnesses are required to attend the hearing, which is expected to be held in Ottawa and not be virtual.
The committee also requested any non-disclosure agreements, with the names of the players and the plaintiff redacted, and copies of all communications between Hockey Canada and the teams and players related to this issue, as well as all communications between Sport Canada and Hockey Canada. An MP confirmed that these communications would be emails, texts and any relevant printed correspondence.
Minutes of Hockey Canada and the Hockey Canada Foundation subject to attorney-client privilege, litigation privilege and settlement privilege were also requested between June 2018 and June 23, 2022, all by Friday, July 15.
“We need to get to the bottom of how Hockey Canada handles sexual assault cases to better understand how this was addressed.” NDP MP and committee member Peter Julian said. “Canadians are shocked to learn of this situation and want to see action to prevent this from happening again.
“We want to get answers from Hockey Canada, we didn’t get answers from Hockey Canada last time.”
Specifically, Julian said the committee wants to know how two other ongoing sexual assault investigations involving members of Hockey Canada are being handled. In testimony Monday, Hockey Canada officials said they did not order players from the 2018 junior world team to participate in an investigation into allegations of sexual assault by a woman. They also mentioned during the testimony that Hockey Canada has had one or two reports of sexual assault annually for the last five or six years.
The Heritage committee’s requests stemmed from a two-hour, 36-minute closed-door meeting Wednesday night about the allegations.
“I think this issue is something that should be a priority,” Julian said after Wednesday’s meeting. “Hockey is one of our two national sports, it’s something Canadians grow up with. We take pride in our hockey players. We take pride in the players who wear the maple leaf. We need to make sure there is a code of conduct that it’s strictly enforced. And this is something I think Hockey Canada has fallen far short of in recent years.”
On Wednesday, the House of Commons unanimously approved a motion to request an independent investigation into Hockey Canada’s handling of the June 2018 sexual assault allegations.
As Québec bloc parliamentarian Sébastien Lemire presented during question period, the investigation would examine Hockey Canada’s handling of the allegations, which came to light last month, and, as he said in French, “will find out if whether it was an isolated incident or whether there were deficiencies in the way Hockey Canada handles reports of sexual assault, sexual harassment and other types of misconduct.”
Hockey Canada has been under scrutiny since late May when news emerged that they have settled a lawsuit involving a woman who says she was sexually assaulted by eight Canadian Hockey League players. In the lawsuit, which was filed April 20 in Ontario Superior Court in London, Ontario, the woman says that at least some of the players were part of the Canadian youth team and that the assault occurred in June 2018 after a Hockey Canada Foundation event. .
She has not identified the players and wishes to keep her own identity private. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Pascale St-Onge, Canada’s Minister of Sport, announced Wednesday an immediate freeze on government funding for Hockey Canada.
St-Onge said the funds will be released when Hockey Canada meets two conditions: share its report by outside researchers at Henein and Hutchison and its plans to implement changes; and become signatories to the Office of the Sports Integrity Commissioner.
On Thursday, a Hockey Canada spokeswoman released a statement to Sportsnet when asked to respond to the government freezing its funding:
“Hockey Canada is aware that the Minister has established conditions related to the funds that the organization receives from the federal government.
“Hockey Canada is deeply committed to and actively working to foster a culture in our sport in which everyone involved feels safe and of which all Canadians can take pride. We recognize that as leaders we must do more, and we are committed to do just that.” In the days and months to come, Canadians can expect to hear more about our work in this area.“
Government funding accounts for six percent of Hockey Canada’s annual budget, which amounts to about $7.8 million annually.
— Archived by Emily Sadler of Sportsnet