Hockey Canada hearings resume Oct. 4; board members to testify, Nicholson to appear later

Scott Smith, Hockey Canada President and Chief Operating Officer, middle right, and Hockey Canada Chief Financial Officer Brian Cairo, middle left, join fellow witnesses as they appear at the standing committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (CP)

The next Parliamentary hearings into how Hockey Canada handled alleged sexual assaults will return Oct. 4 and feature appearances by current and former chairs of the board of directors. Former CEO Bob Nicholson will also make an appearance at a later date.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage decided on more hearings during a closed-door meeting to determine next steps after Parliament resumed Tuesday. The minutes of the meeting were made public on Wednesday.

The committee is summoning Andrea Skinner, current chair of the board of Hockey Canada, and Michael Brind’Amour, the former chair. The committee is also requesting a copy of the minutes and any notes taken from 2022 in camera meetings by board members or staff of Hockey Canada related to the 2018 incident in London, Ont., and its associated settlement.

Nicholson, who served as former CEO and president from 1998 to 2014, has also been summoned, as have officials from AIG Insurance Company of Canada, to appear in a subsequent hearing to be determined.

The committee’s study of Hockey Canada will also “be expanded to include all matters related to the administration of Hockey Canada and other national sporting federations,” rebranding as “Safe Sport in Canada” and, according to one Parliamentary source, will occur regularly for an undetermined amount of time.

After the first hearings in June, Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge froze Hockey Canada’s federal funding after it was learned the organization had settled a lawsuit with a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by eight Canadian Hockey League players, including members of the 2018 Canadian world junior team. New allegations against the 2003 Canadian world junior team and a third undisclosed incident are also being investigated.

Here’s a look at what’s happened since the last hearings were held at the end of July:

• Brind’Amour resigned and was replaced on an interim basis by Toronto lawyer Skinner
• An investigation began into allegations of a third incident
• Former Supreme Court of Canada judge Thomas Cromwell was named the head of a review into Hockey Canada’s governance
• OHL, WHL and QMJHL teams were sent an email from the CHL with advice on how to react in case the identities of players accused of group sexual assault in June 2018 are released
• Skinner declared the board of directors’ support of CEO Scott Smith and his executive team
• An investigation by Jennifer White, an Ottawa-area lawyer, into an incident in 2003 allegedly involving members of the 2003 Canadian world junior team is said to be “progressing well.”
• Investigations continued by the NHL, Henein Hutchinson’s Danielle Robitaille, the IIHF, and London, Ont., and Halifax police.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Most recently, a survey sent around by Hockey Canada late last week raised the ire of its members and other Canadians for some of the questions being asked by the embattled organization.

Hockey Canada told Sportsnet it has been conducting virtual town halls to get feedback from members, and the survey was an extension of that strategy. Hockey Canada said the questions “were constructed to gauge sentiment and awareness of the issues facing Hockey Canada from members of the hockey community.”

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