Taking allegations 'extremely seriously,' Hockey Canada 'welcomes' committee appearance

The Hockey Canada logo is shown on a jersey. (Jason Franson/CP)

Hockey Canada said Tuesday it "welcomes" the opportunity to testify in Ottawa about last month’s settlement of a civil lawsuit in which eight former Canadian Hockey League players were accused of sexually assaulting a woman in June 2018.

In a statement released in response to the parliamentary invitation to testify before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage next week, the organization also stated that “no government funds were used in the recent settlement of the lawsuit.”

“Hockey Canada welcomes the opportunity to appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage,” the statement reads. “We take the allegations against members of the 2017-18 National Junior Team – as well as the safety and well-being of anyone participating in our programs – extremely seriously. We respect the wishes of the young woman who brought this incident to light to maintain her privacy and we encourage others to respect her wishes as well. We look forward to discussing with the committee Hockey Canada’s ongoing commitment to the safety and integrity of youth sport and to ensuring that our code of conduct, and the expectations we have for our staff, athletes and volunteers in our programs, reflect the mission of our organization and the values of the country. In the meantime, we can say definitively that no government funds were used in the recent settlement of the lawsuit.”

On Monday, the federal committee voted in favour of inviting four members of Hockey Canada and the Hockey Canada Foundation to appear in parliament for questioning.

Four officials will appear in Ottawa on Monday, June 20, for questions: outgoing CEO Tom Renney, who announced April 20 that he will step down effective July 1; president and COO Scott Smith, who is slated to replace Renney as CEO this summer; former VP Glen McCurdie, who served as senior VP of insurance and risk management from July 2018 to December 2021; and David Andrews, chair of the Hockey Canada Foundation board of directors.

The session will be made public.

In April, a woman filed a lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court in London, Ont., alleging she was sexually assaulted in June 2018 by eight Canadian Hockey League players, including some members of the 2017-18 Canadian world junior championship team. The alleged incident occurred in a London hotel room after a Hockey Canada Foundation event. The woman, who wishes not to reveal her identity, did not name the players involved – they are referred to as John Does 1-8 in the official statement of claim.

The allegations have not been heard in a court of law. The terms of the settlement involving Hockey Canada, the CHL, and the eight players, were not disclosed.

Earlier this month, Canada's minister of sport, Pascale St-Onge, said she is ordering a forensic audit 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.

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