Heritage committee to vote Wednesday on when to start Hockey Canada investigation

Kevin Waugh, MP for Saskatoon—Grasswood discusses the importance of getting to the bottom of the investigation and allegations against Hockey Canada from 2018.

The Canadian Heritage committee plans to vote in Parliament on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET on whether to table its work on Bill C-11 in favour of starting an immediate investigation into the sexual assault allegations connected to Hockey Canada.

Kevin Waugh, a member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Grasswood and a member of the Conservative Party, told CityNews Parliament Hill Bureau Chief Cormac Mac Sweeney before the session on Wednesday that an investigation into what Hockey Canada knew about the incident and whether taxpayers' money was used to fund a settlement in a lawsuit brought by a woman accusing players of sexual assault must be heard "immediately."

"Yes, immediately, before we rise here," he said, referring to a possible summer recess for Parliament starting on June 23. "I know that the sport minister has talked about having this in September – no, no, no, this is serious, let’s get this in right now. The NHL amateur draft is coming up, the Memorial Cup is coming up, the world hockey junior championship is coming up. We need these people to testify. I know of two people already who have left Hockey Canada office over this. We need them to come to the committee immediately to talk about this serious rape allegation that took place in 2018."

Waugh said he would ultimately want Hockey Canada officials to come to Ottawa to testify as soon as Friday or early next week for two days of testimony, bringing all relevant documents.

"I’d want everything on the table. I want to hear from Tom Renney, who has now left Hockey Canada," Waugh said of Hockey Canada's outgoing CEO, who resigned April 20 but will hold the position until July 1. "I want to know what he knew. I want to know what the entire organization knew about this. So, it happened in 2018 and we don’t find out about this until three-and-a-half years later? Why? … I want to know who’s supervising these kids? Because there were 18-year-olds out there."

Waugh said he has submitted a list of names of people he would like to see come before the committee, including Renney and Glen McCurdie, Hockey Canada's former senior vice president of insurance and risk management, whose LinkedIn page says he was last employed by the association in December 2021.

Waugh said Hockey Canada receives six per cent of its funding from the government of Canada. He added that under the Own the Podium program, Hockey Canada received $7.8 million in funding.

The allegations, which have not been heard in a court of law, date back to June 2018 and involve eight CHL players, including some members of the 2017-18 under-20 men’s national junior team, which won gold at the annual late-December world juniors tournament. According to the statement of claim, filed April 20, 2022, the alleged assault occurred after a Hockey Canada Foundation event in London, Ont.

In a statement provided to Sportsnet after the lawsuit and settlement were reported by TSN, Hockey Canada said it immediately contacted local police authorities upon learning about the alleged assaults in 2018 and retained Henein Hutchison LLP to "undertake a thorough independent internal investigation and make recommendations on areas for improvement which we have been implementing and will continue to pursue."

Hockey Canada stated the person making the allegations chose not to speak with police or Hockey Canada’s independent investigator. That person has also chosen not to identify the players involved, Hockey Canada said.

On Thursday, Canada's minister of sport, Pascale St-Onge, said she is launching an investigation into whether public funds were used in the Hockey Canada settlement of a lawsuit by a person alleging sexual assault by some of the organization's players.

During a scrum with reporters before question period on Parliament Hill, St-Onge said she would conduct "a forensic audit" to make sure public funds were not used to settle the lawsuit and that the players are held accountable. She added that "Canadians deserve to know."

"The financial audit is to ensure that Hockey Canada has complied with its funding agreement with Sports Canada and to ensure that there are no public funds that have been used to settle that agreement," St-Onge said in French.

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