Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called for widespread change at Hockey Canada as the national governing body for hockey remains embroiled in a sexual assault scandal.
Trudeau suggested that Hockey Canada could be abolished and replaced by another organization that would do a better job of protecting its citizens from the widespread abuse that has allegedly occurred at a systemic level.
This past summer, it was revealed that Hockey Canada had used the National Equity Fund to pay off sexual assault victims and on Monday, The Globe and Mail reported that Hockey Canada engineered a second fund, called the Participants Legacy Trust Fund, with the purpose of “matters including, but not limited to sexual abuse.”
“There needs to be wholesale change," Trudeau said Thursday. "They need to realize that if we have to create an organization, get rid of Hockey Canada, and create an organization called 'Canada Hockey' instead, people will look at doing that."
and did not acquit itself well, to say the least. Interim chair Andrea Skinner’s comments were particularly egregious, arguing that minor hockey across the country could not operate without the current leadership group at Hockey Canada, disregarding the calls for widespread change as deeply cynical.
There have been widespread calls for Hockey Canada president and CEO Scott Smith’s resignation, but Skinner and former chair of Hockey Canada’s board of directors Michael Brind’Amour have resolutely backed him throughout several inquiries from the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
"I think that would be very impactful in a negative way to all of our boys and girls who are playing hockey," Skinner testified Tuesday. "Will the lights stay on at the rink? I don't know. We can't predict that.
Trudeau balked at Skinner’s suggestion.
"It's not like there's something extraordinarily special about the people at Hockey Canada that means they are the only people in the country that can run an organization like this," Trudeau said.
"There's lots of people who could run it, and unfortunately, the total loss of faith in that organization by everyone means that it's nonsensical that they'd be digging in their heels on this one."
This comment stood out among her indignant testimony and Skinner’s blatant disregard for public safety facilitated the aggressive withdrawal of Hockey Canada’s lead sponsors of the men’s national programs, including Tim Hortons, Scotiabank, Sobey’s, Skip The Dishes, and Canadian Tire, among others. Canadian Tire withdrew its financial support of all Hockey Canada programs on Thursday.
"There is a lack of understanding that they've lost the confidence of Canadians," Trudeau said Thursday.
"And the sooner they get to that, the better it will be for everyone."
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