Canada’s best female hockey players say there’s a lot to be done to eliminate toxic behavior

Players of Canada’s senior women’s hockey teams are demanding a ‘thorough and transparent investigation’ into recent sexual assault allegations involving Hockey Canada teams, and say the organization has a lot to do to address ‘toxic behaviors’ ” in the sport.

Players from Canada’s newest Olympic and world teams released an open letter Monday to Hockey Canada’s leadership and board of governors on the eve of a second round of parliamentary hearings into the organization’s handling of complaints about sexual assault.

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“We join all Canadians in demanding a thorough and transparent investigation into the incidents in question, as well as the structure, governance and environment that exist within [Hockey Canada]“, we read in the letter.

“Once the full truth is out, Hockey Canada and its elected Board of Directors must ensure that all steps are taken and that appropriate measures are put in place to ensure that this kind of behavior is never accepted again. and never repeat itself.”

The letter was released after Hockey Canada released a plan on Monday to combat “toxic” culture in its sport.

The plan includes the implementation by the end of September of a centralized abuse complaint tracking and reporting system. He said the results will be released annually to “hold Hockey Canada accountable.”

The organization will publish an annual social accountability report, which will include information on complaints received at both national team and sub-national level and a dashboard based on “key performance indicators”. Hockey Canada said it is in the process of identifying metrics to include in the scorecard.

Hockey Canada did not say what complaint data will be made public in the report, but historical sexual assault allegations will not be included.

Hockey Canada also says it will implement better selection of high-level players — “taking into account their behavior and background outside of their time with Hockey Canada and off the ice.” It will state that violating the organization’s code of conduct or refusing to participate in an investigation could result in a lifetime ban.

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The women, in their letter, said they were “encouraged” by the action plan, but added that it was only “a step towards addressing toxic behavior”.

“There is still a lot of work and action to be done to fully address the underlying issues to ensure a new Hockey Canada emerges from this crisis.”

The measures outlined Monday are in addition to those announced by Hockey Canada in a July 14 open letter, which has come under intense criticism for the organization’s handling of a sexual assault allegation involving eight players and the settlement of a lawsuit that followed, following a 2018 gala in London, Ont. A second allegation of sexual assault involving the Canadian team participating in the 2003 junior championship in Halifax surfaced on Friday.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

An independent review of Hockey Canada’s governance and a commitment to become a full signatory to the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner, a new government body with the power to independently investigate complaints of abuse and to impose sanctions, were announced in the open letter.

Hockey Canada has also previously said it will create an independent mechanism to deal with complaints at the regional, provincial and local levels, which are not covered by the OSIC.

Julie Macfarlane, a law professor and member of the Order of Canada who previously worked as an employment mediator, told CBC Sports in an email that Hockey Canada’s plan lacked transparency.

“There is no mention of qualifications for the [‘independent third party’] or the mediator. Often, a lawyer is the default. This may be fine if they have been trained to be mediators or investigators – we don’t have national accreditation for these roles so training is a bit hit and miss – but there are reputable programs.

“There is also no mention of whether the ITP/mediator will be trauma informed and trained to work with victims of abuse,” Macfarlane wrote.

Additionally, she said the plan ignores information about how results will be communicated to victims and noted the use of default nondisclosure agreements as a “major issue.”

“In effect, this means that the results will be as secret as they always have been. There must be a clear commitment to offer confidentiality to victims, but without requiring them to sign an NDA, which makes their lives dependent deprived of copyright protection,” Macfarlane wrote.

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In response to a report that Hockey Canada had a legal fund to compensate victims of sexual assault, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doubled his support for the organization’s funding freeze pending an investigation.

Hockey Canada’s plans to donate to the Kids Help Phone charity in response to complaints have upset the line’s CEO over the use of his name without consent.

On Friday, Kids Help Phone CEO Katherine Hay tweeted her disapproval of Hockey Canada’s plans, calling them “a selfish attempt to align with our good.”

“Do better, Hockey Canada, and apologize,” Hay added in the post.

CBC News confirmed that the charity did not receive an apology for the one-sided use of the hotline’s name on Monday night.

Hearing this week

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will hear evidence on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hockey Canada had its federal funding frozen and several corporate partners suspended sponsorships after former CEO Tom Renney and current President and CEO Scott Smith testified about their handling of the 2018 allegation. during a parliamentary hearing on June 20.

Smith and Renney testified that the 19 players at the London event were “strongly encouraged” to speak with third-party investigators, but not mandated to do so.

Smith took over from Renney as CEO of Hockey Canada on July 1.

Smith and Renney were subpoenaed to testify on Wednesday, along with the leaders of the Canadian Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League , as well as Glen McCurdie, former vice-president of insurance and risk for Hockey Canada. management.

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Brady Leavold is a former CHL player and skated for teams in Saskatchewan and BC and is now a podcast host. Tara Slone is a former co-host of Rogers Hometown Hockey and an advocate for social change. Both say it’s time for the sport to undergo a systemic change in the culture of the sport that has been ingrained in hockey for decades.

The Canadian Press reported on July 18 that Hockey Canada maintains a fund that draws from minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims. The detail was included in a July 2021 affidavit signed by McCurdie in a lawsuit brought by an injured player in Ontario.

Hockey Canada has since said the fund will no longer be used to settle sexual assault claims.

The action plan released Monday also includes mandatory chaperones for underage athletes at Hockey Canada events to enforce curfews and ensure no alcohol is consumed. Hockey Canada also said it will no longer hold “open bar” events.

The action plan indicates that a review of all existing training programs delivered by a third party organization is underway.

Hockey Canada said an independent board will be appointed by Sept. 15 to ensure its plan is implemented.