Hockey Canada and the Boys’ Club | The Press

The tragic soap opera suffered the allegation of a collective violation perpetrated by eight star players and silenced by the organization Hockey Canada caused general ire this summer in our cottages. And with good reason. The victim could have been you, your daughter, your sister, your mother. This sordid story dug by the Globe and Mail has raised awareness of a toxic culture of sexual assault management guided by the code of silence.

Posted at 9:00 a.m.

Lea Clermont-Dion

Lea Clermont-Dion
Postdoctoral researcher at Landscape of Hope – Concordia University and documentary filmmaker

The revelations unveiled thanks to the hearings required by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage have made it possible to draw worms from the nose of the leaders of the organization, silent as graves until now, who had tried to save appearances with press releases written by public relations specialists of limited talent.

In consultation, several authorities have sounded the alarm. The World Association of Ice Hockey Players Unions (WAIPU), with more than 14,000 members in Canada, even reminded the Committee that it was imperative to examine Hockey Canada’s culture based on a trivialization of allegations of sexual violence, which which echoed a toxic norm sanctioned within the league. Nothing very reassuring.

There is acute sickness at the illegitimate impunity of potential aggressors in society in general, but also with regard to those who possess certain privileges such as power and money. And what about those who encourage the most encouraged?

If this is the tip of the iceberg, we will allow the hypothesis that there is material to describe that the problem is not anecdotal, but perhaps systemic.

In the philosopher Michel Foucault, power is part of relationships, summarily organized, pyramidal, sometimes unequal. The power was in the hands of the eight young men who decided, one evening of drinking, to rape a vulnerable young woman, a gregarious act specific to an exacerbated toxic masculinity. And from that moment, power turned into domination.

The thinker Jalna Hanmer affirms that violence against women is part of a desire for control, in particular by physical force. The ascendancy of the would-be celebrity status of the alleged attackers thus reinforced their strike force. It is not insignificant. How is it that Hockey Canada officials did not push the investigation process? Because they had an interest in their young foals continuing to shine on the ice.

This opaque and scandalous process favored by Hockey Canada is reminiscent of what Martine Delvaux calls the boys club. It is clearly an organization that excludes women, that is controlled by men and whose members are wealthy and wield power. The said group of people in positions of privilege use their alliances for their own benefit.

This applies to Hockey Canada. That is exactly what this scandal is about. The organizational structure provides protection from wrongdoers in the name of group gain through financial power.

Indeed, need we remember that since 1989, a sum of approximately 7.6 million dollars has been mobilized in Hockey Canada’s “national equity fund” in order to compensate victims of sexual assault? Substantial funding provided, among other things, by parental contributions. What is fascinating and spectacularly sad is that the operation was orchestrated at the expense of the health, safety and well-being of the victims and other athletes. Results ? Alleged rapists skate freely, cheered.

Behind the tree hides a rotten forest. Some sticks are lying on the ground, split. Need to clean up. So, what do we do in the face of management that is as scandalous as it is catastrophic? The spring cleaning. To put an end to the all-out abuses and above all their not very subtle silencing, it is time to carry out a public inquiry into sport in general, marked by its own codes, in order to respond precisely to an extremely complex problem which cannot be reduced to a single magic solution.

How do organizations handle allegations of sexual assault? Are their measures and practices adequate? How can the protocols in place be improved? You have to take the time to reflect in order to straighten the shot.

Certainly, Hockey Canada has hired former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell to lead a review of the organization’s governance. Board Chairman Michael Brind’Amour has resigned. The alleged victim of the gang rape called at Globe and Mail. She revealed that she felt guilty, a state of mind reminiscent of shame, after the attack.

But aren’t the leaders who had the responsibility to begin a legitimate and ethical process ashamed of having acted with so much pettiness? Wandering has its limits, as does lack of judgment. Hockey Canada president clings to the power of his boys club which, it is hoped, is about to sink. Scott Smith must resign.

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