Federal committee to discuss next steps after receiving Hockey Canada documents

Ottawa Parliament Buildings Centre Block with Peace Tower and Canadian flag. (CP/file)

Editor’s Note: The following story deals with sexual assault, and may be distressing for some readers.

If you or someone you know is in need of support, those in Canada can find province-specific centres, crisis lines and services here. For readers in America, a list of resources and references for survivors and their loved ones can be found here.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has received a series of documents from Hockey Canada related to the organization’s handling of 2018 sexual assault allegations and the settlement of the lawsuit that followed.

A Hockey Canada spokesperson confirmed to Sportsnet that the documentation was provided to the committee and receipt of those documents was confirmed Friday afternoon. The deadline to submit the documents, which were requested last month by the federal committee following Hockey Canada testimony in Ottawa, was Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Members of the Heritage Committee will meet on Monday about how to proceed ahead of the next set of Hockey Canada hearings on July 26 and 27, and determine what information the committee is able to release and what can legally be discussed during those hearings.

“Some of it is confidential. Some of it is privileged. And so we have to decide what we do, because we’re having public meetings,” the Hon. Hedy Fry, member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre and chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, told CityNews Parliament Hill Bureau Chief Cormac Mac Sweeney on Friday. (The interview took place before receipt of all documentation was confirmed.)

Included in the committee’s request were the non-disclosure agreement (with names of plaintiff and players redacted), copies of communications between Hockey Canada, teams and players, as well as all relevant internal communications pertaining to the handling of the allegations and settlement between June 2018 and July 15, 2022.

“What can be publicly released will be released. What cannot be publicly released will not be released,” Fry said of the documents.

She said “everything is on track” for the upcoming hearings, and was clear about the committee’s goal:

“What our objective is is not to find out who did what, allegedly, to whom — who the perpetrators are, who the victim is. We want to find out how Hockey Canada in 2018 handled this issue,” she said. “What are the steps they took? What is the conversations they had? We want to get to the bottom of that because we were not happy with our first answers from them.”

Last month, after hearing testimony in Ottawa from Hockey Canada president Scott Smith, outgoing CEO Tom Renney, and Hockey Canada Foundation chairman Dave Andrews about the handling of the incident, the committee called for more witnesses to appear before parliament in July. Those witnesses include members of Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League, Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge, representatives from law firm Henein Hutchinson LLP, and Hockey Canada’s insurance company, BFL Canada.

“I think that if anybody watched the first set of hearings, they will realize that the committee, without exception, every political party in that committee were concerned and felt that our questions had not been answered appropriately,” said Fry of the June 20 testimony. “That’s why we’re calling them back and we’re calling more people as well. And we’re trying to get ahold of certain documents. But this must all be done with a view to protecting the privacy of the alleged perpetrators and the privacy of the victim. And these are things we want to do.”

Among the most significant findings to come out of the first hearing on June 20 was the fact Hockey Canada did not mandate that all players cooperate with the investigation, conducted by Henein Hutchison LLP, and that the investigation was left incomplete when it was closed in September 2020. Many politicians were left with questions about what had been done in the years since the allegations to prevent further harm moving forward, and were troubled by the revelation that the organization had received reports of other incidents since.

“How often is this happening? Does this happen a lot? Why is it still happening after 2018? What steps have you taken to stop it from happening? Those are the kinds of things we’re trying to get at,” Fry said on Friday.

In April, a woman filed a lawsuit against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, and eight CHL players including some members of the 2017-18 Canadian world junior team. In the official statement of claim, the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she was sexually assaulted by eight players in a London, Ont. hotel room after a Hockey Canada gala event. The lawsuit was settled in May. The case has not been heard in a court of law.

In the weeks since the allegations first came to light with news of the settlement, Hockey Canada has been under intense scrutiny for its handling of the incident. Last month, the government froze its funding and shortly after, multiple major sponsors announced they were pulling their support of the organization ahead of the upcoming (rescheduled) 2022 World Juniors in August, demanding change and accountability within the organization.

On Thursday Hockey Canada announced it was reopening its investigation into the incident. The woman will participate in the reopened investigation, her lawyer told Sportsnet on Thursday.

— With files from Cormac Mac Sweeney and Paul D. Grant

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