OTTAWA. After it was revealed he had paid millions of dollars to victims of sexual assault, hockey leaders in Canada said Thursday that a former Supreme Court judge will lead an investigation into the organization.
The appointment of the referee, Thomas Cromwell, comes amid growing calls for an overhaul of the Hockey Canada organization and a transformation of the often sexualized culture that surrounds a sport that towers above all others in the country.
Marquee’s sponsors pulled out of Hockey Canada and the federal government froze millions of dollars of its funding after the sports television network reported in May that court documents showed that the group paid CAD$3.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a woman who accused members of the World Youth Team of sexual assault in 2018.
Following this, representatives from Hockey Canada stated in a committee of the House of Commons that has used a special fund to cover $7.6 million to settle nine sexual harassment and sexual harassment lawsuits since 1989.
In July, new sexual harassment allegations surfaced involving Team Canada at the 2003 World Junior Championships. Several Canadians, including some politicians, accuse Hockey Canada of failing to supervise the players, who were between 18 and 20 at the time of the charges, in the incidents.
World Junior Championships 2022which was delayed in December due to Covid disruptions, will begin on Tuesday in the Alberta cities of Edmonton and Red Deer.
Mr Cromwell’s investigation, which Hockey Canada says will begin immediately, is one in a series that has been launched in recent weeks.
Hockey Canada announced last month that it would bring in an independent reviewer to determine what happened between an unnamed woman and players in London, Ontario in 2018. may include lifetime suspension from the sport for players.
Police in London, a city southwest of Toronto, have also reopened a criminal investigation into the 2018 episode.
“These revelations demonstrate a deep, toxic culture that allows people to act with impunity,” said Pascal Saint-Onge, the country’s sports minister. House of Commons committee said during a hearing in which she questioned the suitability of the governing body’s current leadership. “We know we haven’t done enough to fix the actions of some members of the 2018 National Youth Team or end the culture of toxic behavior in our game. Hockey Canada is watched by the whole country.”
Ms St. Onge added that she would not accept “just a PR exercise” from Hockey Canada and called on the organization to also reconsider racism in sports and how it deals with on-ice violence and concussions. A few weeks ago, she ordered an audit to determine if any public money was being used for extrajudicial settlements. The government provides about six percent of Hockey Canada’s revenue.
Hockey Canada apologizes to Canadians statement without signature.
“We have heard Canadians loud and clear and are determined to make the necessary changes to enable us to be the organization that Canadians expect,” the statement said.
“We know we haven’t done enough to fix the actions of some members of the 2018 National Youth Team or end the culture of toxic behavior in our game,” he added. “We know we need to do more to fix behaviors on and off the ice that run counter to how Canadians want hockey to be and undermine many of the good things the game brings to our country.”
The review by Mr. Cromwell and two lawyers will not focus on the behavior of players, coaches and staff on or off the ice. Instead, he will look at issues such as whether there is sufficient control over how money is distributed from the “national equity fund” that was used to settle lawsuits, and whether operations are adequately overseen by Hockey Canada’s voluntary board of directors.
The investigation will also examine Hockey Canada’s bylaws and governance structure and provide interim findings and recommendations by November.