Hockey Canada case: players were not forced to participate in the investigation

OTTAWA – It was optional for 2018 National Junior Team players who were allegedly involved in a gang rape case to participate in the investigation into the events, so Hockey Canada says it doesn’t know the identities of the eight players accused.

“We strongly encouraged all players to participate in this (independent) survey that we commissioned,” Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer Scott Smith said during a comparison before the Heritage Standing Committee. canadian.

Alongside him, the organization’s chief executive, Tom Renney, said he estimates “four to six” players at the gala evening after which the rape allegedly took place took part in the match. the survey, a number that would “definitely” be larger than that, according to Mr. Smith.

MM. Smith and Renney, who were also answering questions from federal elected officials, both repeated several times during their testimony that the alleged victim did not want to identify his alleged attackers and wanted to protect his own identity.

The external review launched by Hockey Canada could not be concluded, said Mr. Renney, because the young woman did not want to speak with the person responsible for the investigation. “It was his right and we respect his wishes. »

Mr. Smith assured that the players in question, if they had been identified, would have faced disciplinary sanctions determined by a panel of three people “which is not managed by Hockey Canada”. He added, in the same breath, that this was always a possibility if new information made it possible to relaunch the investigation.

“Misinterpreted” code of conduct

The organization has a code of conduct and it is “zero tolerance for any type of violation”, assured the CEO.

Members of the Heritage Committee seemed sometimes surprised, sometimes shocked that none of the players had been found responsible or had suffered disciplinary sanctions to date.

“What is your code of conduct worth” if it is not mandatory to participate in such an investigation, asked New Democrat Peter Julian.

The code of conduct was actually “misinterpreted” in the case of the players who attended the gala, Mr Renney replied.

Bloc Québécois MP Sébastien Lemire criticized the leaders for having been “more or less proactive. »

“You don’t know what happened, but you rushed to pay to cover up this affair,” he said. There is a certain form of complicity that you show in covering up this affair. »

Called to comment after she herself had compared before the committee, the Minister of Sports, Pascale St-Onge, declared that “we are facing an organization that perpetuates the culture of silence”. »

Ms. St-Onge declined to say whether she intends to withhold public funds or whether heads should roll until she receives the findings of the financial audit she commissioned. “Nothing (is) excluded for the rest of things,” she said.

According to information first reported by the TSN network, a woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by eight Canadian Hockey League junior players has dropped a lawsuit after an out-of-court settlement.

In the court documents that have been cited, the young woman alleges that she was sexually assaulted several times in a hotel room after a Hockey Canada gala in June 2018.

From the outset, the organization’s CEO maintained that no government funds were used in the agreement reached. Nevertheless, it was added that Hockey Canada would “evolve” with the financial audit requested by the Minister of Sports, Pascale Ste-Onge.

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