Scandal-hit Hockey Canada announces independent governance review

Hockey Canada has announced a full governance review in the wake of a sexual assault scandal that’s seen sponsors and government funding flee in recent months.

The governance review would be done by an independent third party, the powerful hockey organization said in a statement Wednesday.

The review would also include the National Equity Fund, which Hockey Canada said in its statement would “no longer be used to settle sexual assault claims” — something it has been heavily criticized for doing this week.

“Following the governance review, we will take any additional steps that are recommended,” said Hockey Canada.

“Should the review determine that a fund to support victims of sexual assault is required, as is common in other sporting organizations, we will ensure all claims are subject to the approval of an independent third-party.”

Last week, Hockey Canada took additional steps after facing widespread criticism for its handling of sexual assault allegations. It said it would restart a third-party investigation into an alleged sexual assault that took place in 2018 involving members of the country’s world junior team. Participation of players would be mandatory, which wasn’t the case before.

Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith, who took on the role July 1, testified on Parliament Hill before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage last month that “12 or 13” of the 19 players on the roster were interviewed before the original, incomplete investigation concluded in September 2020.

Independent researchers have long called for a complete upheaval of hockey culture in Canada after decades of sexual assault cases.

The statement did not name who would be carrying out the governance review.

Hockey Canada has been submerged in scandal since May, when reports came out about a lawsuit, filed by a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight players of the 2018 world junior team, being settled quietly.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tore into Hockey Canada this week.

“I think right now it’s hard for anyone in Canada to have faith or trust in anyone at Hockey Canada,” he told reporters at an event on Bowen Island, B.C.

“What we’re learning … is absolutely unacceptable.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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