House of Commons to call for independent investigation into Hockey Canada

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.

OTTAWA – The House of Commons unanimously approved a motion Wednesday to request an independent investigation into Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault allegations from June 2018.

As Quebec bloc parliamentarian Sébastien Lemire put it 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 this was an isolated incident or if there were shortcomings in the way Hockey Canada handles reports of sexual assault, sexual harassment and other types of misconduct.”

The approval of the motion came shortly before the The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, which heard Hockey Canada witnesses testify Monday, held a two-hour, 36-minute closed-door meeting on the allegations, presumably to plan the next steps in its investigation. The parliamentarians who left the meeting did not comment on what happened during the meeting, but the next steps could be known on Thursday morning.

“This is part of the fallout from what was a deplorable lack of transparency on the part of Hockey Canada when they appeared before the Heritage committee on Monday, (where) the questions asked were very clear,” the committee member and NDP MP Peter Julian on Wednesday after the closed meeting of the Heritage committee. “We discovered on Monday that there are a number of other investigations that Hockey Canada is currently conducting.

“But it was Hockey Canada’s response to what are allegations of a terrible, terrible violent crime, and for Hockey Canada to simply say that in the investigation that they did, the cooperation of every single player that was in it was not required. “. equipment. When we think about the horrific allegations of sexual violence, I don’t think it convinced a single committee member, and it certainly didn’t convince any member of the Canadian public, that Hockey Canada takes this violence seriously.”

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.

This latest development comes shortly after Pascale St-Onge, Canada’s Minister of Sport, announced on Wednesday an immediate freeze on government funding for Hockey Canada.

“What’s troubling about all of this is that we apparently have two other investigations that Hockey Canada has launched,” Julian told Sportsnet. “Hockey Canada officials admitted to one or two allegations, so one can only assume that because they didn’t come back with details, we may be talking about other allegations of sexual violence a year for the last six years. That could be up to a dozen additional complaints and that does not include the provincial federations as well. So there is a disturbing lack of taking these important allegations seriously. And I think this requires action by the government. Today there has been a first step”.

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. When contacted by Sportsnet, Hockey Canada did not comment on the funding freeze.

If the conditions are not met, there could be changes to Hockey Canada. Julian said that those changes would come through the influence of Parliament.

“The Heritage Committee has the power to subpoena and the power to demand documents, and also the power to ensure that Canadians get answers,” Julian said. “However, the federal government, through its funding mechanism, has a lot of influence. And the reality is…this should be a wake-up call for Hockey Canada that…this will also lead to significant demands for change, even from within Hockey Canada.”

Responding to a Sportsnet question after Wednesday’s question period, St-Onge did not provide a deadline for Hockey Canada to meet the two conditions for funding to be restored, only that the conditions are “really realistic, and if they want federal funding, they need to meet.” .

St-Onge’s announcement was accompanied by a statement calling Hockey Canada’s actions in the wake of the allegations “deeply concerning” and “unacceptable.”

“Today, the House sent a very strong message to Hockey Canada saying that their testimony on Monday was insufficient, as well as their handling of the cases that were mentioned in the media a few weeks ago,” he told reporters after question period. “I want to thank my colleagues for working on this issue in a nonpartisan way so that we can send a very strong message that the culture of silence must end and we must stand up to sexual violence.”

Government funding accounts for six percent of Hockey Canada’s annual budget, which amounts to about $7.8 million annually.

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