Hockey Canada Research: Your Questions Answered

When Hockey Canada officials testified for two and a half hours Monday before the Heritage Committee, they faced a four-game barrage of questions from members of parliament.

But as many questions were answered, many more were raised. Here, we try to dig in to help clarify some of the biggest and most important issues raised at the hearing.

Publisher’s note: The following story is about sexual assault and may be distressing to some readers.

If you or someone you know is in need of support, those in Canada can find province-specific centres, crisis lines and services. here. For readers in the United States, you can find a list of resources and referrals for survivors and their loved ones. here.

Why did Hockey Canada appear before a parliamentary committee on a settled civil lawsuit?

Hockey Canada relies on funding from the federal government, to the tune of six percent of its annual budget, or about $7.8 million. Although MPs were uniformly horrified by allegations of sexual assault of a woman by eight CHL players, at least some of whom were on the 2018 world junior team, the committee’s original intention was to find out whether the money from the taxpayers was used to pay for the transaction motivated by a civil lawsuit by the woman.

In the statement of claim in the case, a copy of which was obtained by Sportsnet, the woman was seeking $3.55 million in damages. The final amount of the settlement is unknown.

Was this a criminal proceeding?

The hearing was not a criminal proceeding and no charges could possibly be brought out of it. However, information uncovered at the hearing could be used by authorities to launch a new investigation, and actions requested by the committee, such as requesting documents and calling witnesses, must ultimately be obeyed.

Who testified on Monday?

Testifying under oath were Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney, who will officially step down on July 1; president of Hockey Canada; Hockey Canada COO Scott Smith; and the president of the Hockey Canada Foundation, Dave Andrews.

Former Hockey Canada director of risk management Glen McCurdie was called to attend but was excused by the committee on compassionate grounds because his father recently passed away. Also in attendance, but not testifying, was Andrew Winton, an attorney for Hockey Canada.

What are the basic facts of the civil case?

On April 20, a woman filed a civil lawsuit against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, and eight CHL players in Ontario Superior Court in London, Ontario. In the suit, the woman says she was sexually assaulted by eight CHL players, including some members of the 2017-18 Canadian Junior World Championship team, in a London hotel room after a Hockey Foundation gala and golf event. Canada on June 18, 2018. The woman chose not to reveal her identity, nor the identities of the eight players, and they are referred to in the lawsuit as John Does 1-8.

The lawsuit was settled in May and the case has not been seen in a court of law. The terms of the agreement have not been published.

Does Hockey Canada know who the eight John Does are?

Hockey Canada said Monday that it does not know the identities of the eight John Does, citing the “incomplete” investigation by its Toronto-based outside law firm. Henein Hutchison LLP. Smith said neither the London law firm nor police were able to identify the John Does because the woman has not identified them.

Smith did not respond to a question from MP Sebastien Lemire about what Hockey Canada would do if a player identified himself as one of the John Does. Smith said that Hockey Canada did not or did not direct all players on the team to participate in the investigation.

Will the law firm report be released?

In an exchange between Smith and committee vice chairman John Nater, Smith said Hockey Canada would not want to submit the report because it was incomplete. Nater responded that the committee could force Hockey Canada to submit the report.

What is the timeline of events surrounding the Hockey Canada investigation?

Renney said Hockey Canada was notified by the woman’s stepfather on the morning of June 19, 2018, shortly after the incident occurred. Hockey Canada discussed the report internally: Smith said he and Renney were on a plane flying back to Calgary for part of the day, and his officials reported it to the London Police Service around 6-7 pm ET.

Hockey Canada contacted the law firm in the early stages of the investigation. Sports Canada was made aware of the incident on June 26, 2018. Renney said that speculation that the incident was “covered up” is “inaccurate”. Smith later added that he “strongly” opposes the suggestion that the incident was covered up. In February 2019, Hockey Canada was notified that the London police would not investigate further. Hockey Canada continued its investigation and suspended it in September 2020 because it was unable to identify the eight John Does and did not obtain a statement from the woman.

Renney said earlier in the hearing that four to six players were involved in the investigation, but Smith said later that he thought that number was more like 12-13.

“The independent investigation that we commissioned was ultimately unable to be completed because the young woman chose not to speak with the investigator,” Renney said in her opening statement. “That was her right and we respect her wishes, just as we continue to respect her clear and repeated wishes not to identify herself or the players involved.

“While we understand the public’s frustration that the players involved have never been identified or sanctioned, the young woman has agency in this matter, and we encourage everyone to give due consideration and deference to her fundamental desire for privacy above all else.” .

So who is investigating the incident?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final last week that the league, with the cooperation of the NHLPA, was investigating the incident.

If Hockey Canada was unable to complete its investigation, why did it settle the lawsuit?

“We resolved the claim quickly because we felt a moral obligation to respond to alleged behavior that occurred at one of our events by players who attended our invitation,” Renney said in his opening statement. “We felt that the correct response to the woman’s legal request was one that did not require her to participate in a lengthy court proceeding. The agreement allows her to seek any support she may need as she tries to work through this incident.”

Was taxpayer money used to pay for the settlement?

Smith said that Hockey Canada “liquidated some of its investments” to pay for the deal. She added that Hockey Canada awaits the audit requested by sports minister Pascale St-Onge and that no government funds were used.

Are other unrelated investigations being conducted into similar incidents?

“In the last few years, I think we’ve reported three assault incidents as required, and I know this is one of them,” Smith said. “I cannot comment on the level of investigation of the other two. I don’t have that information in front of me.

“I understand we’ve had one or two cases annually for the last five or six years. I apologize, I can’t give you more details. I’ll tell you one in the last five or six years.” , not one or two every year, a in the last five or six years is too much. And that’s why we’re driven to change the culture in this game.”

What is Hockey Canada doing to prevent this from happening again?

Renney and Smith said Hockey Canada strengthened its player code of conduct in the fall of 2018, adding training sessions on sexual assault, intimidation and harassment. Renney said events like the gala fall into a “fuzzy” area because it’s not an on-ice activity, which are more strictly overseen by Hockey Canada, but he anticipated it will be tightened so that off-ice events are also covered by the code. of conduct. Smith added that Hockey Canada also recently hired a director of safe sport, who will create a department to better educate players, coaches, etc.

What punishment could Hockey Canada impose if it discovered the identity of John Does?

Good question. Hockey Canada has players on its national teams for only a short time, so the actual punishment in cases like these is unclear. Hockey Canada could suspend players from future international games, such as playing for Canada at the Olympics or world championships. The actual punishment could result from the NHL investigation.

“Following the advice of our outside investigator, we were unable to impose sanctions,” Smith said. “They warned us that they would lack due process. It is not something we take lightly. I have said multiple times that if more information were to come forward, we would re-engage in the investigative process and handle the investigation and any potential discipline exactly the way we intended it to be handled in the summer of 2018. We take responsibility We are responsible from this”.

What will happen next?

The committee is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm ET, before the expected summer parliamentary recess on Thursday. The parliamentary file establishes that the meeting will be behind closed doors, which means that it will be closed to the public. Speculation from one MP in the committee was that the next steps would be determined at that meeting, but it was unlikely that any more witnesses would be called. The parliamentarian added that most committee members would attend by video conference and would not attend physically. But ultimately the leadership of the committee will be set by chair Hedy Fry.

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