Pounded with questions before the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee, Hockey Canada Bonzes had to admit that they had never been able to identify the eight players allegedly involved in a 2018 gang rape case and that the athletes were not required to cooperate with the investigation. Nothing to reduce complaints about the body.
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Both Scott Smith, president and COO of Hockey Canada, and Tom Renney, CEO, looked pretty shabby during the exercise, in front of elected officials in Ottawa.
Even after many questions, there are still several gray areas regarding the events that allegedly took place on June 18 and 19, 2018, at a Hockey Canada Foundation gala in London.
Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer, Tom Renney, chief executive officer, and Dave Andrews, president of the Hockey Canada Foundation, testified before elected officials in Ottawa yesterday.
Therefore, the 26-month independent investigation initiated by the sports federation will not have made it possible to identify the alleged culprits.
“Neither the investigation nor the London police could confirm who the accused were,” Smith said, while Renney recalled that the whistleblower had agreed to an out-of-court settlement and did not take part in the inquiry.
“We can only respect their wishes,” he argued.
No public funds
Also according to the two representatives of Hockey Canada, the public funds used to finance the organization were never used, neither to resolve the agreement out of court nor for the legal costs incurred.
Smith also mentioned that Hockey Canada had done things correctly.
“You have to take a step back before implying that we covered up the matter. The police were quickly notified. We have launched an investigation. We offered support to the young woman.
“The process we have gone through in this case is common. Agreements like this are common and are made to protect everyone involved. They arise from a mutual agreement. Nobody was forced to keep silent,” he insisted.
Même en voulant démontrer sa bonne volonté dans l’affaire, Hockey Canada s’est fait poivrer de questions concerning le fait que les 19 joueurs présents lors de événements que ont dérapé in 2018 n’ont pas été tenus de répondre à des questions durant l ‘poll.
On this point, Renney told the committee that only four to six hockey players would have collaborated. Information that Smith later contradicted by speaking in place of 12 to 13 players.
Be that as it may, it was enough that Hockey Canada was even identified as an accomplice in this sexual assault case in the eyes of some politicians, including Sébastien Lemire, a deputy for the Bloc Québécois.
“I feel from your responses that you have been more or less proactive. He has 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 show. I sincerely hope that you have not put pressure on the victim so that she can obtain this settlement. To me, you act in this story like John Doe 9,” he cursed, referring to the eight unidentified players.
– With Guillaume St-Pierre, Parliamentary Office
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 it left a lot of questions unanswered,” said Peter Julian of the New Democratic Party.
“I think the fact that they didn’t force players to take part in the survey baffles most Canadians. If you do an investigation, everyone should be forced to participate, ”he lamented later in a press scrum.
Hockey Canada president and COO Scott Smith also said the federation had to deal with “one or two cases” of sexual assault per year, for the “last five or six years.” There are two investigations currently underway and about which the organization has not wanted to give more details.
“This sexual assault should be the last, but it seems not. There are still cases. They discussed a dozen cases and two investigations. It makes me worried. Hockey Canada has not taken all necessary steps,” Mr. Julian ruled.
Code of conduct to review
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 good is a code of conduct if you don’t participate [à une enquête] when there are horrific accusations of sexual assault? Mr. Julian asked.
On this subject, Mr. Smith revealed that in Hockey Canada’s future code of conduct, players could be required to cooperate in such investigations. He also admitted that the organization was “probably behind schedule” in terms of educating players to prevent such events.
The committee has not commented on the next steps to be taken, but it does not appear that eliminating Hockey Canada’s subsidies is part of the solution.
“They made a mistake, but we will penalize young players across the country if we don’t fund national institutions like Hockey Canada or Soccer Canada. The way to ensure a safe environment for everyone is not to starve a national association of funds,” said Anthony Housefather, Montreal MP for the Liberal Party of Canada.
– With Guillaume St-Pierre
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