THUNDER BAY – SPORTS – Hockey Canada is promising they can change. It is a statement that frankly is hard to believe that the senior management and board for the organization which has hidden and paid off claims of sexual assault would be capable of achieving.
John Nater, Conservative Shadow Minister for Canadian Heritage, Richard Martel, Conservative Shadow Minister for Sport, and Karen Vecchio, Conservative Shadow Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, issued the following statement on the two emergency committee hearings concerning Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault allegations:
“The hearings at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage into Hockey Canada’s involvement in allegations of sexual assault have heard the testimony of a secretive and unaccountable organization where allegations of sexual assault have been covered up. It is clear that Hockey Canada sweeps cases under the rug and moves on. Senior management within the organization has not shown Canadians that they are capable of taking the necessary actions to hold perpetrators accountable and prevent acts of sexual violence from occurring in the future.”
Frankly the Conservative committee members are correct. In order to achieve change it is going to take a complete change in management and a complete purging of the organization and its practices.
Hockey Canada has published an “Action Plan”. This plan reads, “Hockey Canada is committed to driving cultural change and addressing the toxic behaviour that exists in corners of the game.”
Hockey Canada continues, “Hockey Canada’s leaders – our Board of Directors and our Members across the country – are accountable for our mission to “lead, develop and promote positive hockey experiences.” This has always clearly been about the experience on the ice and at the rink, but Hockey Canada can do more to ensure those positive experiences extend to any interaction with our players, coaches, volunteers, and staff.
To hold ourselves to the highest possible standards, our organization needs independent external scrutiny. Our Action Plan includes a number of new measures intended to ensure we benefit from the perspective of outside experts who will hold us to account and ensure we are always at our best.”
What Hockey Canada misses is that it has been the very people who have been hiding and basically condoning the actions and toxic behaviour who are not taking responsibility.
The Conservative Committee members state in a press release issued July 27, 2022, “Yesterday, we learned that government officials have known about the 2018 sexual assault allegations for four years. It is unacceptable that the Minister neither asked to be made aware of this kind of information nor did officials take it upon themselves to inform the Minister.
“While the decision for the government to suspend funding to Hockey Canada is a necessary step, Minister St-Onge needs to do much more to reform the culture within her own department and the sports world.
“How can Canadians trust the leadership of Hockey Canada to enact meaningful change when they sat on these serious accusations for all these years? Moreover, how can Canadians trust the Minister of Sport, when she has been kept in the dark by her own department?
“The fact of the matter is, the government has failed Canadians by not following up on the allegations and continuing funding to Hockey Canada when they knew the seriousness of the allegations.
“Funding cannot be resumed until Hockey Canada’s officials are held accountable. That means there must be a change in leadership. Furthermore, by sitting on this information and taking no action, a significant change is needed in Sport Canada. The Liberal government must take responsibility and ensure the sports world is safe for all participants”.
Realistically and especially in Western and Northern Ontario where there has been a history of abuses and sexual assault on Indigenous men, women and children, it would be hard for a parent to allow their child to become a part of any Hockey Canada efforts as it stands right now.
For the millions of Canadian hockey players and fans across the country it is obvious that Hockey Canada needs to be either scrapped or replaced. That the management and board of directors of Hockey Canada can’t or won’t see that is strong evidence that they are still a huge part of the problem.
Hockey Canada officials can talk about the need for “Culture Change”. They are bang on… but they are the culture that needs to change, by leaving.