Riddled with questions before the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee, Hockey Canada bonzes had to admit they had never been able to identify the eight players allegedly involved in a gang rape case in 2018 and that the athletes were not required to cooperate with the investigation. Nothing to reduce the discontent towards the organization.
Both Scott Smith, President and Chief Operating Officer of Hockey Canada, and Tom Renney, Chief Executive Officer, have rather badly during the exercise, in front of elected officials in Ottawa.
Even after many questions, several gray areas still exist concerning the events that allegedly took place on June 18 and 19, 2018, within the framework at a Hockey Canada Foundation gala in London.
Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer, Tom Renney, chief executive officer, and Dave Andrews, president, Hockey Canada Foundation, testified yesterday before elected officials in Ottawa.
The 26-month independent investigation launched by the sports federation therefore failed to identify the alleged culprits.
“Neither the investigation nor the London police were able to confirm who the defendants were,” Smith said, while Renney recalled that the complainant had agreed to an out-of-court settlement and that she had not participated in the investigation.
“We can only respect his wishes,” he argued.
No public funds
Always according to both representatives of Hockey Canada, the public funds which are used to finance the organization have at no time been used, neither to settle the agreement out of court nor for the legal costs incurred.
Smith has at the same time mentioned that Hockey Canada had done things according to the rules.
“You have to take a step back before implying that we covered up the affair. The police were notified quickly. We have launched an investigation. We offered support to the young lady.
“The process we have gone through in this case is common. Agreements like this are common and they are made to protect everyone involved. They arise from a mutual agreement. No one was forced into silence,” he insisted.
Despite wanting to demonstrate its goodwill in the matter, Hockey Canada was peppered with questions about the fact that the 19 players present during the events that went wrong in 2018 were not required to answer questions during the game. investigation.
On this point, Renney told the committee that only four to six hockey players would have collaborated. Information that Smith later contradicted by speaking rather of 12 to 13 players.
Be that as it may, it was enough for Hockey Canada to even be identified as an accomplice in this sexual assault case in the eyes of some politicians, including Sébastien Lemire, MP for the Bloc Québécois.
< p>“I sense from your responses that you have been more or less proactive. You have made incomplete inquiries and reports. You don't know what happened, but you rushed to pay to cover it up.
“There is a certain form of complicity that you demonstrate. I sincerely hope that you have not put pressure on the victim to be able to secure this out-of-court settlement. For me, you act in this story as being John Doe 9”, he cursed, referring to the eight unidentified players.
< em>– With Guillaume St-Pierre, Parliamentary Bureau
Too many unanswered questions
In the eyes of the elected officials who questioned the leaders of Hockey Canada, the appearance did not bring the expected clarifications.
“I think that left a lot of questions unanswered”, left dropping Peter Julian of the New Democratic Party.
“I think the fact that they didn't force the players to participate in the survey baffles a majority of Canadians. If you do an investigation, everyone must be obliged to participate, ”he lamented afterwards in a press scrum.
Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer Scott Smith said the federation had to deal with “one or two cases” of sexual assault per year, during the “last five or six years”. There are two ongoing investigations that the agency would not provide further details about.
“This sexual assault must be the last, but it seems not. There continue to be cases. They talked about a dozen cases and two investigations. It leaves me worried. Hockey Canada has not taken all the necessary measures,” ruled Mr. Julian.
Code of conduct to be reviewed
Hockey Canada is currently reviewing its code of conduct. This is another measure that does not seem to move the elected members of the committee.
“What is the value of a code of conduct if you do not participate [in an investigation] when it there are horrifying allegations of sexual assault?” asked Mr. Julian.
On this subject, Mr. Smith revealed that in the future code of conduct of Hockey Canada, players could be required to cooperate in such investigations. He also conceded that the organization was “probably behind” in educating players in terms of preventing such occurrences.
The committee hasn't decided on the next steps to take, but it doesn't appear that removing subsidies from Hockey Canada is part of the solution.
“They made a mistake, but we are going to penalize young players across the country if we do not give funds to national institutions like Hockey Canada or Soccer Canada. The way to guarantee a safe environment for everyone is not to deprive a national association of funds,” said Anthony Housefather, Montreal MP for the Liberal Party of Canada.
– With Guillaume St-Pierre