Members of the House of Commons committee that investigated Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual-misconduct complaints are calling for the organization’s newly elected board to set a fundamentally different direction and immediately investigate new information about an alleged group sexual assault in London, Ont., in 2018.
The new details were revealed in a Globe and Mail report published on Sunday that was based on a 94-page document filed to the Ontario Court of Justice in October by the London Police Service, which has reopened an investigation into the incident. In the police application, which asked a judge to approve a series of investigative measures, police say they have reasonable grounds to believe that five players from Canada’s 2018 world junior hockey team sexually assaulted a woman after a charity event.
The document also states that someone at Hockey Canada gave one of the players allegedly involved in the incident a heads-up after the woman went to police. It also says that a well-dressed older man identified as M.M. encouraged the woman, identified as E.M., to go along with the player she said later initiated the group sexual encounter. None of the claims has been tested in court and no charges have been laid.
Peter Julian, an NDP MP and member of the standing committee on Canadian Heritage, which held special hearings through the summer and fall to investigate the incident and related issues, said the new information is troubling and demands action from Hockey Canada.
“The new board of directors really has a responsibility to provide answers. Somebody or some group of people within Hockey Canada knows about what happened that night,” said Mr. Julian in an interview on Sunday. “There is an obligation of transparency, and the stonewalling from Hockey Canada I hope ends with the former board and the former CEO.”
The organization elected a new board of directors this weekend. Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith and the previous board resigned en masse in October, after marquee sponsors fled and public controversy raged over Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual-misconduct complaints.
Mr. Julian specifically called on the new board to ensure that any potential victims are not silenced by non-disclosure agreements like the one that E.M. had been subject to until Hockey Canada released her from it this summer.
Anthony Housefather, a Liberal MP and another committee member, said he was “pleased that it seems that the London Police are now doing their job.” But the application contains pointed allegations that need to be investigated, he said.
“The main takeaways that I think need to be immediately reviewed by Hockey Canada are the claims that M.M. (who describes that coming to the events is part of his job) was allegedly involved in pushing a clearly inebriated young woman to leave with Player 1,” Mr. Housefather said in an e-mail to The Globe, referring to the player as he is identified in the document, “and that Player 1 was allegedly tipped off by someone from Hockey Canada that there was a police investigation.”
Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, a co-chair of the Heritage committee, found the allegations about Player 1 being warned by someone at Hockey Canada particularly troubling and significant because it directly contradicts a central claim that officials made to the committee.
“At no time did Hockey Canada ever say they knew about any of the night that happened. So who is it at Hockey Canada that gave this player the heads-up that police had been contacted about the events of the night?” he said. “Because Hockey Canada claims they knew nobody, none of the players. At committee, they came out and said, ‘We don’t know who’s involved here.’ ”
In the chronology laid out in the court filing, that heads-up led Player 1 to contact E.M. via Instagram and text message to urge her to make the issue “go away.”
Pascale St-Onge, federal Minister of Sport, called the new information “both heartbreaking and horrifying.”
“Organizations need to do more to prevent sexual violence and end the culture of silence,” she said. “They need to better educate young players about sexual violence, the notion of consent and a healthy sexual lifestyle.”
Hockey Canada sought to emphasize a new era of reform and responsibility, heralded by the election of its new nine-member board on Saturday.
“The Board will lead Hockey Canada through urgent changes, including the recruitment of a new chief executive officer and the implementation of the organization’s Action Plan to address toxic behaviours in and around hockey,” the organization said in a statement on Saturday.
Hockey Canada added that, in accordance with an independent review conducted by former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell, this board will serve “a special one-year term focused on making the changes necessary to improve the governance at Hockey Canada as well as sport safety on and off the ice.”
The new board chair is Hugh L. Fraser, a retired Ontario Court judge and Olympian who has specialized in sport law over his career, including work as an arbitrator on multiple high-level athletic bodies.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us and we are determined to enact the changes Canadians expect of Hockey Canada,” he said in the Saturday statement. “Hockey means so much to our country and we will be committed to making sure that Hockey Canada is an organization that is transparent and accountable to all Canadians, and is worthy of their trust.”
Hockey Canada did not respond to questions from The Globe Sunday about the latest revelations.
The eight new directors of the board include Cassie Campbell-Pascall, a three-time Olympic champion and a hockey broadcaster and analyst; Grant Borbridge, an executive with Trimac Transportation who has experience working on governance and various facets of corporate compliance; and Marian Jacko, the assistant deputy attorney-general for the Indigenous Justice Division of the Ontario Attorney-General’s office.
“I congratulate the new board.” said Mr. Julian. “But they have a great deal of making up to do in the eyes of the Canadian public and in the eyes of funders, sponsors, the provincial hockey federations.”