Federal Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge does not mince words when criticizing Hockey Canada, even speaking of “systemic problems” to describe the situation surrounding sexual assault cases that affect the discipline.
“The stories we read are deeply disturbing and sickening,” Minister St-Onge said Thursday when interviewed by CBC News. This isn't the first time we've talked about a toxic culture in hockey. However, nothing has been done, or nothing convincing has been done in the last 10 years.”
The Minister of Sports reacted at the same time to a vast journalistic investigation by CBC, through the program The Fifth Estate, at the end of which about fifteen alleged sexual assaults were listed in the last decades in Canada, since 1989. These, which would have been committed in a group, would involve for the most part players playing at the junior level.
“There are also all these people in position of authority that have failed all these years,” said Minister St-Onge.
This isn't the first time the politician has come down hard on Hockey Canada. Earlier this month, she criticized a survey conducted by the federation that focused on sexual assault, including the media's alleged exaggeration in this case.
Ms. St-Onge called the whole thing “a public relations management,” arguing that the organization “did not take responsibility for their crisis management.”
The story of gang rape in London by members of the Canada junior team is what set fire to the powder in May. The out-of-court settlement with the alleged 24-year-old victim was partly covered up by the federation, which had a sexual assault claims fund.
Since the establishment in 1989 of this resource , nine payments have been made for a total amount of $7.6 million, according to Hockey Canada Chief Financial Officer Brian Cairo in the parliamentary committee.
A second sordid story, which occurred in 2003 in Halifax, during the World Junior Championship, once again tarnished the image of Hockey Canada. This would again be a mob assault on a seemingly unconscious woman by half a dozen hockey players.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said repeatedly that he and the Canadiens will not had more confidence in the federation, condemned for its toxic climate. In June, the federal government suspended funding to Hockey Canada, in addition to the loss of several major sponsors.
Following the resignation of Board Chair Michael Brind'Amour on June 6 August and its interim replacement by Andrea Skinner, Hockey Canada unveiled the main lines of its action plan for the future.
The review of its governance, carried out by an independent committee, should be completed in November next, in time for its annual general meeting.