CHL sex assault scandal will not go away. Hockey Canada must answer questions

Ice hockey is not just a game in Canada. It’s the national game – our game. His finesse, speed and power are qualities we can all dream of sharing. Its embrace of ice and cold touches our collective soul. When the game’s supervisor, Hockey Canada, is gripped by scandal, Canadians feel hurt, angry, and an urgent need to hold him accountable. And that’s where we are today with this organization.

In May, Hockey Canada paid an undisclosed amount of money to settle allegations that eight Canadian Hockey League players sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman at a gala the organization held in London, Ontario in 2018. Judging from the limited information available, Hockey Canada has shared with the public that the organization appeared less concerned with conducting a proper investigation that would lead to the truth and, if necessary, real consequences, and more concerned with making a pesky issue quietly go away.

However, thanks to TSN reporter Rick Westhead, who broke the news of the payout, Hockey Canada’s problem is not going away. As the Canadian government and some of the country’s most prominent corporations begin to turn off funding for the organization, their problems are getting worse by the day. We would say “good” to that. In a country that cares about hockey, Hockey Canada needs to change.

Canadians are rightly wondering if eight young men have emerged nameless and unscathed from a potentially brutal crime. The woman, who said she was gang raped, declined to press charges – which is understandable given how traumatic sexual assault trials can be for victims. Instead, she sued Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League for $3.55 million. Before reaching an agreement with her, Hockey Canada commissioned its own investigation.

From the start, the process was inadequate. Hockey Canada’s weak “code of conduct” does not compel players who wish to continue their association with the organization to cooperate with such investigations. As a result, either six or seven of the 19 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships players present at the gala in London would not cooperate. This was convenient for her, but an obstacle to finding the truth.

Although it appears Hockey Canada never completed its investigation into what happened in London, it did reach a settlement with the complainant, suggesting the laundry, which would have been aired in the course of a court case, was more than just was a bit dirty. Regardless, Hockey Canada’s reputation is badly tainted today. It’s possible some of those involved in the sexual assault allegations are making big bucks today playing in the National Hockey League. To their credit, the NHL has launched its own investigation, but who knows where that will lead?

If you detect moral outrage here, you are right. But it’s not just the indignation of this newspaper. The federal government has frozen Hockey Canada funding until it spits out more answers about what happened. Meanwhile, Scotiabank has suspended its association with Hockey Canada. Telus, Canadian Tire and Tim Hortons have taken their support for the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, which begin in Edmonton in just a few weeks. These championships are a big deal for Hockey Canada.

Until now, these companies have wanted their brands to bask in the glow of an organization that claims to be a custodian of the national sport. These sponsors wanted the public to see how they promote hockey to young people, girls and women in small and diverse communities across the country. They wanted everyone to know that their company values ​​are not only in line with sporting excellence and team spirit, but also with fairness. What allegedly happened in London is at odds with the high moral values ​​they were keen to promote.

So let’s hope the government, these companies and more will tighten the screws on Hockey Canada. You and the people of Canada should demand clear and effective action. If this organization expects a single dollar of support from the public and private sectors in the future, it needs to reconsider how it responded to this incident and establish stricter rules on how it will act if something like this happens again. And Hockey Canada must be fully transparent to reassure everyone that this is the case. Because as we all know, hockey is more than just a game to Canada.

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