On Monday, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is scheduled to hear from high-ranking officials from Hockey Canada and the Hockey Canada Foundation during an in-person meeting in Ottawa.
The purpose of the meeting, which will be streamed on Sportsnet.ca and televised at 3:30 pm ET / 12:30 pm PT, is to understand Hockey Canada’s actions around June 2018 sexual assault that recently came to light, and to determine whether any public funds were used in the settlement that followed.
The meeting is scheduled to run for three hours.
Last Monday, the federal committee on Canadian Heritage voted in favor of inviting four Hockey Canada officials to appear in Ottawa for questioning: Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer Scott Smith, outgoing CEO Tom Renney, Hockey Canada Foundation chair Dave Andrews, and former director of risk management Glen McCurdie.
McCurdie’s is the only name of the four that is not currently included on the official list of witnesses posted on the House of Commons’ official notice of meeting.
Renney has served as CEO of Hockey Canada since his appointment to the position in 2014. At the time, he was also appointed president but stepped down from that role in 2017 while staying on as CEO. On April 20, Renney announced that he was retiring from Hockey Canada, effective July 1, with Smith taking over the position. Smith was named COO in 2007, and took over Renney’s role as president when Renney stepped away from that position in 2017.
In response to the invitation, Hockey Canada released a statement Tuesday saying it “welcomes” the opportunity to appear before the committee and said “no government funds were used in the recent settlement of the lawsuit.” Here’s the full statement:
“Hockey Canada welcomes the opportunity to appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage,” the statement read.
“We take the forces against members of the 2017-18 National Team — as well as the safety and well-being of anyone participating in our programs — extremely seriously. We respect the wishes of the young woman who brought this incident to light to maintain her privacy and we encourage others to respect her wishes as well. We look forward to discussing with the committee Hockey Canada’s ongoing commitment to the safety and integrity of youth sport and to ensure that our code of conduct, and the expectations we have for our staff, athletes and volunteers in our programs, reflect the mission of our organization and the values of the country. In the meantime, we can say definitively that no government funds were used in the recent settlement of the lawsuit.”
Also included in Monday’s proceedings, and scheduled for the final hour of Monday’s meeting, will be remarks Canada’s minister of sport, Hon. Pascale St-Onge. Earlier this month, St-Onge called for a forensic audit of Hockey Canada to determine whether any taxpayers’ money was used in the settlement.
Isabelle Mondou, deputy minister of the Department of Canadian Heritage, is also listed as a witness.
According to the organization’s 2020-21 annual report, government assistance accounts for six per cent of Hockey Canada’s annual funding.
CBC reported Monday that Hockey Canada received $14 million in federal funding in 2020 and ’21.
Per the official notice of meeting and the accompanying schedule of Monday’s proceedings, the committee has allotted the first two hours of the meeting to Hockey Canada testimony, from 3:30 pm ET until 5:30 pm ET.
All four political parties represented in the Committee will have equal opportunity to ask questions.
On April 20, a woman filed a civil lawsuit against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, and eight CHL players, in Ontario Superior Court in London, Ont. In it, the woman says she was sexually assaulted by eight CHL players – including some members of the 2017-18 Canadian World Junior Championship team – in a London hotel room after a Hockey Canada Foundation event in June 2018. The woman chose not to reveal her identity, nor the identities of the eight players – they are referred to in the lawsuit as John Does 1-8.
The lawsuit was settled in May, and the case has not been heard in a court of law. Terms of the settlement, including whether or not a non-disclosure agreement was signed, have not been released.
The NHL has also announced it is conducting its own investigation into the lawsuit — specifically, around whether any NHL players were involved. Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters last week the league did not know of the situation until news of the settlement broke in May.