The House of Commons heritage committee has ordered another round of hearings into Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault complaints, with former and current senior executives and board chairs called to testify.
At a meeting on Tuesday, the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee agreed to direct Hockey Canada Acting Board Chair Andrea Skinner, Past President Michael Brind’Amour and Past President and Chief of management Bob Nicholson to appear at a hearing on October 4.
This will be the third time that Hockey Canada executives have testified before the committee since news broke of an alleged sexual assault involving Canada’s junior team players in 2018 after a Hockey Canada gala in London, Ont., and tentative settlement between the organization and the complainant.
A second allegation against members of the 2003 junior team has since surfaced.
Skinner took over as chairman of the board after Brind’Amour resigned on August 6, before his term ended in November.
Nicholson was CEO of Hockey Canada from June 1, 1998 to June 1, 2014. He is now President of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
A recent poll distributed by Hockey Canada left some shaking their heads at what they see as disconnected questions about how the organization handles sexual assault allegations.
The poll, which CBC News saw, was distributed to parents, volunteers and coaches and asked for their opinion of the national sports body.
Participants were asked to rate their level of agreement with several statements, including:
- “The level of media criticism of Hockey Canada is overblown.”
- “Incidents like this are unlikely to happen again.”
- “The allegations relate to only a few hockey players and are not representative of hockey culture in this country.”
They were also asked to say how important it is for Hockey Canada, as it works “to address systemic issues in hockey”, to “stop using membership fees to cover claims of sexual misconduct not assured”.
Hockey Canada told a parliamentary committee that it got most of its settlement money from its National Equity Fund, which is funded in part by minor hockey league registration fees – a fact that sparked public outrage.
The organization said in July that it would no longer use the fund to settle such claims.
Asked about the poll on Wednesday, Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge told reporters she wanted “profound and thorough” changes at Hockey Canada, not a public relations exercise.
St-Onge also said that the wording of the question regarding media coverage was incorrect.
“Asking whether it was the media that created this whole crisis as we talk about a possible rape, repeatedly, I think understates the depth of the problem and the urgency and action that needs to happen. “, she said.
In a statement, the organization said it was not trying to downplay the challenges it faces or the “horrible allegations of sexual assault against former members of the national junior team”.
“Certain questions in the survey were constructed to gauge the sentiment and awareness of members of the hockey community about the issues facing Hockey Canada,” the statement read.