Hockey Canada tells Feds it can manage safe sports cases on its own, boasts reserves – National

Canadian Hockey asked the federal government in 2019 if it could manage its own safe sports cases, despite facing “potentially significant inquiries”.

In a three-page email to the Sports Minister’s office, Hockey Canada boasted that its safe sports management is “second to none”, but expressed concern about any investigative mechanism. third-party and new toll-free numbers for reporting abuse.

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The email, signed by Glen McCurdie, then vice president of insurance and risk management for Hockey Canada, also details Hockey Canada’s National Equity Fund used for uninsured debt, including sexual abuse complaints, the organization has maintained since the “late 1990s”.

“It is no secret that Canadian Hockey was forced to act in relation to sexual misconduct, specifically following the Graham James/Sheldon Kennedy revelations that rocked not only our sport but and the nation as a whole in the late 1990s,” McCurdie wrote in an email obtained by the Canadian Press.

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“We are very proud of what we have achieved and continue to accomplish. When we were first faced with this situation, we had financial issues to deal with, in terms of non-refundable claims coming from hockey players, professionals, and people. other. We also have to deal with setting up a program that our members can access in case they have similar interests that are less public in nature.

“We handled our ‘financial obligations’ by handling claims and reporting potential claims in an upfront manner.”

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The sport’s national body has come under close scrutiny since news broke of an alleged sexual assault after a 2018 gala dinner in London, Ont., involving eight non-players. unidentified – including members of that year’s world youth team – and the settlement was subsequently broken in May.

Allegations of gang sexual assault involving the 2003 world youth team surfaced in July.

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None of the charges were proven in court.

Hockey Canada has had its federal funding cut off for its handling of the case and settlement, while several corporations have halted dollar funding.

Kirsty Duncan, Minister for Science and Sport from 2015 to 2019, said she did not receive an email from Hockey Canada addressed to Michael Paramathasan, a former senior policy adviser to the sports minister, when it was sent in October 29, 2019.

“From that letter, this is an organization that didn’t get it, and didn’t get it three decades after the horror of what Sheldon Kennedy went through, after Larry Nassar and gymnastics of the United States.” Duncan told The Canadian Press. “And I think what the letter represents is real thinking, thinking behind closed doors, not when the eyes of the nation are watching and judging.”

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Duncan announced a number of sports safety initiatives in March 2019, including a toll-free nationwide confidential helpline for victims and witnesses of abuse in sports. She also stated that national sports organizations (NSOs) must have a safe sports policy and put in place provisions allowing access to third-party investigators.

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McCurdie wrote that what most members of Hockey Canada, “or the entire Canadian sports system in general, could not have known is that we also purchased an insurance product to deal with conduct/complaints. sexual abuse on a retrospective basis”.

News of the “product” exploded in July when Canadian Hockey officials told the House of Commons legacy committee that they were using the organization’s National Equity Fund, which charges minor hockey memberships. , to pay $7.6 million in uninsured claims to nine settlements related to sexual assault or abuse since 1989. That figure does not include the alleged incident in London.

McCurdie wrote that he couldn’t “go into specifics” about the potentially significant claim, but said access to counseling, crisis communications, etc., helped us a lot. “unforeseen way.”

“If we are thwarted by a ‘sports process’ that we need to go through a reporting and approval mechanism by some, as an unnamed third party organization, we believe sure that irreparable harm could have been done to us,” he continued.

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McCurdie noted in the potential statement in question, the athlete(s) were the alleged perpetrator(s), not the victim.

“The concept of a third-party investigative firm would remove our ability to actually protect athletes in this situation, no doubt about it,” he wrote, saying. added that Hockey Canada believes in tailored solutions to specific problems and that a uniform process uniform for all sports would be detrimental to the NSO’s ability to handle certain situations.

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McCurdie’s argument with the free abuse line pilot project, he said, largely revolved around a large volume of complaints, many of which “are not necessarily valid. We have many parents who use complaints of this nature as a basis for team/association changes. “

Neither Hockey Canada nor Paramathasan immediately responded to requests for comment.

Both Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Kennedy recently condemned the leadership of Hockey Canada, saying it has distrusted Canadians. Their comments came after the federation’s board announced it supported chairman and chief executive officer Scott Smith and his executive team despite calls for a change in the company’s leadership. organization.

“Canadian hockey does not want to be hindered by a system or process that constrains us and does not allow us to manage a situation we deem necessary,” McCurdie wrote. “We simply ask you to keep this in mind as you continue to lead us in a collective safe sport strategy.”

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Duncan said the values ​​and priorities of Canadian Hockey were misguided.

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“The number one priority of any sports organization is sport safety. This is an organization that has gone against safe sport with self-serving arguments – that’s what the letter says. They don’t want the rules, because they don’t want to be exposed,” she said.

“I want to know if they are still proud of their success in this area.”

Meanwhile, NDP MP Peter Julian is asking the federal government to conduct a thorough examination of the finances of Canadian hockey since 2016.

The request, made in a letter to Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge on September 6, refers to thousands of dollars in costs incurred by the sport’s national governing body, including upscale dinners, luxury hotel suites and championship rings for board members.

© 2022 Canadian Press

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