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Hockey Canada keeps on stepping in it.

Already embroiled in a scandal over its settlements of sexual-assault allegations, the national governing body for hockey is at the centre of yet another controversy.

This time, it’s over a survey Hockey Canada commissioned for its members to solicit feedback about its crisis management – including their views on whether the organization faces excessive backlash for using a multimillion-dollar fund of registration fees to resolve misconduct claims made against players.

Specifically, the survey tried to gauge the extent to which Hockey Canada’s members, such as parents and coaches, concurred with various statements including: “The level of criticism by the media toward Hockey Canada is overblown” and “Incidents such as this are unlikely to happen again,” CBC News reported.

Yes, you read that correctly, folks. But, wait, it gets a whole lot worse.

The survey also asked respondents about the importance of installing new leadership, offering an apology and discontinuing “the use of membership fees to cover uninsured sexual misconduct claims,” according to Sportsnet.

For this they needed a survey? Good grief.

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It’s unfathomable that Hockey Canada’s executive team and its board of directors still haven’t resigned en masse. Their intransigence, especially that of chief executive officer Scott Smith, is further imperilling the organization.

Faulty governance has morphed into an existential threat. Not only has Hockey Canada lost the trust of ordinary Canadians, this latest blunder has renewed the reputational risk for the organization’s corporate sponsors – major companies that provide a sizable amount of its funding each year.

Companies including Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Tire, Esso, Tim Hortons and Telus Corp. rightly suspended their support months ago. But the longer that Hockey Canada’s governance mess festers, the greater the risk those corporate dollars could disappear for good.

It’s no small chunk of change. Business development and partnerships comprise 43 per cent of Hockey Canada’s annual funding, according to its latest annual report.

Corporate sponsors, however, are facing a conundrum. They want to be seen as supporting women’s hockey and Paralympic players. Trouble is, Hockey Canada has become kryptonite because of these self-generated crises.

Sure, the organization has an “action plan” and an independent governance review is being led by former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell, but there is no doubt that Hockey Canada needs to clean house now.

Hockey Canada declined to provide an update on the progress of its governance review on Thursday, saying only that it “is in regular contact with our partners and continues to frequently update them on the progress that the organization is making on our action plan.”

It has previously indicated that interim recommendations are expected before its annual general meeting in November. Corporate sponsors will be apoplectic if there is even a slight delay.

“We have been very clear that we recognize we need to do better and are committed to making the changes necessary to foster a safe and positive environment for all participants on and off the ice,” Hockey Canada said in an e-mailed statement to The Globe and Mail.

Trouble is, its explanation about that dreadful survey is unlikely to assuage the concerns of corporate sponsors.

“Certain survey questions were constructed to gauge sentiment and awareness of the issues facing Hockey Canada from members of the hockey community,” its statement added.

“With regards to a few questions recently shared on social media, participants were provided a range of statements to respond to by indicating the extent to which they agreed or disagreed.”

Some of those other statements included: “I am reconsidering my child’s participation in hockey as a result of the allegations” and “There is nothing Hockey Canada can do to regain my confidence.”

Yeah, pointing out these self-evident truths doesn’t make the survey’s other questions any less offensive.

“Under no circumstances was Hockey Canada downplaying the challenges facing our organization, or the horrific allegations of sexual assault against former members of the National Junior Team,” its statement continued.

No one buys it. That survey was indefensible – and corporate sponsors will surely agree.

“The board of Hockey Canada is clearly not focused on protecting young boys and young women,” said Bill Barrable, chief executive officer of the Praxis Spinal Cord Institute, formerly called the Rick Hansen Institute. “It’s been an epic failure of governance which will only accelerate the drop in boys’ registration in hockey.”

Mr. Barrable, who has been corresponding with a number of Hockey Canada’s corporate sponsors, says the organization needs to reimagine its entire approach to governance, along with health and safety, to win back support.

That includes overhauling its board to include significant representation from women, people with disabilities and immigrant communities, he said.

In addition to having zero tolerance for sexual assault, Mr. Barrable says Hockey Canada should also ban body checking for players under the age of 16 to prevent avoidable, catastrophic injuries.

“You have to ask yourself, if the board was half female would there have been a different approach to these issues?”

Hockey Canada’s corporate sponsors are likely wondering the same thing.

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