Hockey Canada has clarified the number of incidents of alleged abuse, harassment or discrimination it has reported to Sport Canada since 2018, after the Hockey Canada president’s testimony to the Commons heritage committee in late July mentioned fewer reported incidents. than the number Sport Canada officials had. DEPUTIES the day before.
Sport Canada has since also told CBC News that Hockey Canada reported another incident the day after its officials appeared as witnesses, bringing the total number of incidents disclosed in the last four years to nine.
As a condition of their funding agreements with the federal government, national sports organizations such as Hockey Canada have been required since 2018 to immediately disclose any incidents of harassment, abuse or discrimination “that may compromise the programming project.”
Incidents should also be reported to the appropriate authorities, which could include the police if a criminal investigation is warranted. Sports organizations should have formal policies in place to prevent harassment and abuse and address any cases that arise, including providing access to an independent third party to investigate and make recommendations.
Sport Canada cannot investigate cases
During his testimony before the committee on July 26, Bloc MP Andréanne Larouche asked Michel Ruest, senior director in charge of programs at Sport Canada, the exact number of incidents reported by Hockey Canada in each of the years since its financing agreement required these disclosures (2018-2022).
Ruest said eight cases were reported in his confidential database.
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Ruest said that the confidential details of the allegations contained in these reports had been communicated internally on certain occasions, but only general statistics were shared with the minister’s office, not specific details. Sport Canada does not have the mandated authority to conduct investigations in these cases, he told MPs, and disclosures to the government include “minimal information”: Under the Privacy Act, Ruest said names are not shared unless already are in the public domain.
In response to a follow-up email question from CBC News, Sport Canada broke down the reports in its database by year:
- Two reports in 2018.
- One in 2019.
- Three in 2020.
- One in 2021.
- Two in 2022.
The year of a report to Sport Canada does not necessarily coincide with the year in which the alleged incident occurred.
According to Hockey Canada committee testimony, the first reported incident in 2022 was the alleged group sexual assault by members of the 2003 Canadian junior national hockey team that occurred in Halifax, NS, and is now the subject of a police investigation. . It was only disclosed to the public — and, hockey officials said in their testimony, to Hockey Canada itself — in a TSN report earlier this summer.
Officials said they had only heard “rumors” about it a couple of weeks before TSN published the results of its investigation, but reported it to Sport Canada immediately once the media report was published.
Discrepancy in the number of cases
When he first appeared before the committee on June 20, Hockey Canada president Scott Smith told the committee he was not prepared to discuss specific incidents. During his testimony before the committee on July 27, New Democrat Rep. Peter Julian asked Smith if he was now prepared to discuss the details of the ongoing investigations.
This time, Smith was prepared to confirm that one of the incidents reported to Hockey Canada in 2018 was the alleged group sexual assault of a young woman in London, Ontario, by members of the 2018 junior national team. This incident was also made public because last spring, TSN reported on a cash settlement paid to the young woman by Hockey Canada.
Smith told the committee that in addition to the two investigations involving members of the 2003 and 2018 national youth teams, there were two other reports unrelated to sexual misconduct, bringing the total number of reports to Sport Canada up by part of Hockey Canada to four. he told the deputies.
The other two reports, Smith said, date from 2018 and 2021 and relate to a family alleging abusive behavior because their son and daughter were prevented from signing up for junior hockey due to the father’s conduct in the arenas.
CBC News asked Hockey Canada why Sport Canada’s testimony mentioned receiving eight incident reports from their organization, yet the next day Smith told MPs that four reports had been made to Sport Canada.
Hockey Canada spokesman Jeremy Knight responded that Smith believed Julian’s question was referring only to open investigations, not the total number of reports.
“Mr Smith’s response refers to four open investigations which, as required, have been reported to Sport Canada. Not all reports to Sport Canada since 2018 have open investigations,” Knight said.
Knight’s response suggests that investigations into the four incidents reported in 2019 and 2020 are now closed or concluded.
Neither Hockey Canada nor Sport Canada have released details about the results of those investigations or even the nature of these incidents, including whether they involved alleged assault or abuse, harassment or discrimination.
New incident reported day after testimony
The incident reported by Hockey Canada on July 28, the day after his testimony before the committee, “was not a formal case,” a spokesperson for the sports minister’s office told CBC News.
Ariane Joazard-Bélizaire said a person contacted Hockey Canada “to request information about the process for reporting possible mistreatment of an athlete from the Northwest Territories.”
Hockey Canada advised this person to contact the police and gave him information about the independent third-party mechanism for handling such cases, the minister’s spokesman said.
The number of incidents reported to Sport Canada by hockey officials was not the only confusing aspect of his July 27 testimony.
MPs also asked Hockey Canada officials exactly how much money had been paid to sexual abuse whistleblowers. The figure provided during the committee meeting ($8.9 million in total, from the organization’s domestic capital fund, as well as insurance payments) did not, in fact, include the cash settlement paid to the whistleblower in the assault. group of 2018 that involved members of the junior team.
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This omission was only revealed after the committee when Smith was questioned by reporters in the hallway after his testimony. The chairman said that an audited financial statement including the settlement with the young woman in the London, Ontario incident would not be completed until Hockey Canada’s annual meeting, so the total provided to parliamentarians does not include this most recent payment of the organization.
The exact amount that young woman was paid has not been confirmed, but her claim statement sought $3.55 million and Smith told the committee that Hockey Canada’s board had backed “up to the maximum number of settlements.”
“We didn’t know all the details of the night. [in question]but we believed damage had been done,” Hockey Canada Chief Financial Officer Brian Cairo told MPs.
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