A spokesman for Hockey Canada told a House of Commons committee under oath that the organization did not use public money to settle a lawsuit against an alleged sexual assault victim.
CBC News reported on Monday that financial records show Hockey Canada received $14 million in federal government support in 2020 and 2021, including $3.4 million in emergency COVID-19 grants.
But speaking Monday before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Hockey Canada CEO Tom Rennie said none of that money was used to settle a $3.55 million lawsuit filed in April by a woman who claims she was subjected to sexual abuse by eight former Canadians. Hockey League (CHL) players after a Hockey Canada Foundation event in London, Ontario. in June 2018.
The allegations were not proven in court.
“I can assure you that no public funds were used in this settlement,” Rennie said in his opening remarks to the committee.
The terms of the settlement agreement and the identity of the parties to the lawsuit are unknown.
Earlier this month, Sports Minister Pascal Saint-Onge ordered a financial audit of the out-of-court settlement, saying the move was intended to ensure that taxpayer money was not used to settle the case.
Rennie said the organization would cooperate fully with the audit.
When questioned by the committee, Hockey Canada COO Scott Smith said the organization has liquidated part of its investment in order to pay off the settlement. According to Smith, government funding is kept in a separate account.
Rennie said the organization decided to quickly resolve the matter because it believed it had a moral obligation to do so.
He said that while Hockey Canada’s independent investigation into the matter was inconclusive, the alleged incident was “unacceptable and inconsistent with Hockey Canada’s values and expectations, and it clearly caused harm.”
He added that the organization hopes to address behavioral issues by amending its code of conduct and improving educational programs.
Rennie is set to step down as CEO at the end of this month. He testified that his decision to step down was unrelated to the alleged events or the settlement.