Trudeau weighs in on Canada hockey sexual assault scandal
The Canadian prime minister laid into Hockey Canada at a press conference
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he understands why Canadians are “disgusted” with Hockey Canada after a slew of scandals involving sexual misconduct allegations came to light.
“I think right now it’s hard for anyone in Canada to have faith or trust in anyone at Hockey Canada,” Trudeau explained at a press conference at Bowen Island, British Colombia, on Tuesday.
“What we’re learning today is absolutely unacceptable,” he added.
The latest bombshell surrounding Canada’s national sport’s governing body came on the same day as recently discovered court documents suggested Hockey Canada has a special legal fund set up for paying uninsured liabilities, which includes claims of sexual abuse.
Details about the fund are found in an affidavit sworn by Hockey Canada’s former vice-president of insurance and risk management Glen McCurdie, and come as part of a lawsuit that was launched by an injured player in the state of Ontario.
“When I think about the culture that is apparently permeating the highest orders of that organization, I can understand why so many parents, why so many Canadians who take such pride in our national winter sport, are absolutely disgusted by what’s going on,” Trudeau admitted.
“As a government, we will continue to be unequivocal in our condemnation of what we’re learning and mostly in our demands that things change significantly.”
Tuesday saw Hockey Canada acknowledge the existence of a “National Equity Fund” covering a “broad range of expenses related to safety, wellness and equity initiatives across our organization.”
In comments made to the Canadian press, Hockey Canada insisted the fund had been “established in a manner consistent with reserve funds maintained by other large national organizations”.
News of the fund detailed by McCurdie first surfaced after Hockey Canada was widely-condemned for how it handled an alleged sexual assault involving members of the body’s world junior team in 2018.
In June this year, Hockey Canada executives testified in relation to the case before Canadian Parliament’s standing committee on Canadian heritage.
After deeming that the executives’ account of the ordeal was “insufficient”, the Minister of Sport Pascal St-Onge later announced that Ottawa would freeze all its funding for Hockey Canada which in 2020 and 2021 was around $14 million CAD ($10.9 million).
To receive funding once again, Hockey Canada must provide a third-party report to Sport Canada regarding the alleged 2018 sexual assault and register with the Office of the Sport Integrity Commission, which has been newly created in order to investigate reports of abuse.
Hockey Canada has vowed to do this, and will also make sure participation in the investigation is mandatory for players.
St-Onge insists that Hockey Canada must also demonstrate it has changed its culture and also has “a better management of these situations”.