Amid widespread calls for a change in leadership, Hockey Canada has moved its Board of Directors election one month later to Dec. 17, according to its website, after former Chair Michael Brind’Amour previously announced it would take place in November.
According to the CBC, Hockey Canada’s board asked provincial hockey federations in an August meeting about postponing the election until a report on its governance structure, currently being conducted by retired Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell, was completed.
The board also said its voting process may need to change due to Cromwell’s report, according to minutes obtained by the CBC.
“The Independent Nominating Committee for Hockey Canada issued a Call for Nominations last week. All Board positions are open for election including Chair and eight Director positions,” Hockey Canada said in a statement provided to Sportsnet. “The date of the virtual election was identified by the Independent Nominating Committee, supported by the Members, and approved by the Board of Directors on that basis.”
Interim Board of Directors Chair Andrea Skinner took over from Brind’Amour in August. The upcoming election — which is currently open to nominations — will see a chair and eight directors elected to the board.
At a parliamentary committee meeting on Tuesday, Skinner said she planned to carry out the remainder of her term, but did not know what her future plans were.
“I joined the Board to be part of meaningful and positive change and growth in hockey, I didn’t expect to be involved in politics,” said Skinner Tuesday. “I didn’t expect to be a lightning rod for extremists or receive threatening and hostile emails.”
Skinner strongly defended Hockey Canada president and CEO Scott Smith and notably asked the committee “will the lights stay on at the rink?” if there are sweeping changes at Hockey Canada.
Hockey Canada’s leadership has been under scrutiny since news broke in May that the organization settled a lawsuit with a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by eight CHL players, including members of the 2018 Canadian world junior team. It was later revealed Hockey Canada used a National Equity Fund, made partially of player registration fees, to pay the settlement.
Calls for change have significantly increased since Tuesday’s parliamentary hearing, with a number of Hockey Canada sponsors (Nike, Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Scotiabank) and member organizations (Hockey Quebec, Ontario Hockey Federation, Hockey Nova Scotia and Hockey New Brunswick) since pulling funds from the governing body.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made one of his strongest statements yet on Hockey Canada, saying Canadians might want to look at creating a new organization called Canada Hockey if major changes don’t come soon.
“There needs to be wholesale change, they need to do it, they need to realize that if we have to create an organization — get rid of Hockey Canada — and create an organization called Canada Hockey instead, people will look at doing that,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. “There is a lack of understanding that they have lost the confidence of Canadians. The sooner they get to that, the better it will be for everyone.”