Hockey Canada chief, board resign

Rape scandal triggers exit after revelations of shady funds used to pay off abuse victims

AFP October 12, 2022


The head of Hockey Canada and its entire board of directors resigned Tuesday following revelations that the sport's governing body used shady funds to pay off sexual abuse victims.

Hockey Canada has been in turmoil since gang rape accusations against the body were revealed in June, raising questions about the organization's settlement of a lawsuit filed by the alleged victims two months earlier.

"Recognizing the urgent need for new leadership and perspectives, the entire Board of Directors announced it will step aside," Hockey Canada said in a statement.

The suit was filed against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and eight players, some of whom represented Canada at the 2018 World Junior Hockey championships and went on to play in the NHL.

The federation reached a financial agreement in the spring with the accuser, now 24.

Since the revelations in June, more alleged gang rapes have come to light, and Hockey Canada has revealed it paid out millions of dollars in settlements to nearly two dozen complainants with sexual misconduct claims over the past three decades.

The departing chief executive of Hockey Canada, Scott Smith, has been under withering criticism from athletes, lawmakers and even sponsors.

It was recently revealed in the media that Hockey Canada had two slush funds to settle payments for victims of sexual assault.

Sponsors, such as the Tim Hortons restaurant chain, Nike and Scotiabank, have cut ties with the sports federation in recent weeks.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suspended the organization's public funding in June, opening the door to an overhaul at the highest level of the federation.

"It's time for them to go," he said told journalists last week.

Tuesday's announcement is a "a step toward restoring Canadians' confidence" in Hockey Canada, Canadian Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge said in a statement. "While we welcome this news, the interim management committee must be made up of people who want to make real change."

The Quebec hockey federation froze its subsidies to Hockey Canada last week, saying this outcome was "inevitable."

"Now, it is essential for us that future administrators take concrete actions to... change with regards to respect, integrity and culture," Hockey Quebec said.


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