Scandals within Hockey Canada will not prevent Halifax and Moncton from hosting the World Junior Hockey Championships later this year, Halifax Regional Council says.
“We’re going to go ahead and put on these games — put on this tournament, we’re going to do one heck of a job as always,” Mayor Mike Savage said at a special council meeting late Tuesday, adding a note of caution “Last-minute issues are always possible .”
Hockey Canada has been rocked by sexual assault allegations, leading its leadership – CEO Scott Smith and the entire board – to resign Tuesday amid heavy criticism. Savage said last week that a significant change was required at Hockey Canada before the tournament could go ahead.
The national sporting body has been under fire since May when it emerged that a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by eight players – including members of Canada’s junior world men’s team in 2018 – had been paid a settlement.
Allegations of sexual assault by gangs involving the 2003 junior world team surfaced in July.
In an interview Wednesday, the Mayor of Halifax said the World Juniors will be the first major tournament since Hockey Canada cleaned up.
“I think we’ve seen significant changes,” Savage said. “We don’t know the whole story yet. We don’t know who will be on the board. We don’t know who will be CEO, but I think it’s a really important step. And I don’t think there’s any denying that it’s a dramatic change, and I think it’s for the best.”
Savage said a “high number” of tickets were sold for the tournament, which is scheduled to take place in December and January. The remaining tickets, he said, remain with Hockey Canada “for things like potential sponsorship.”
“I think it’s fair to say that the (International Ice Hockey Federation) doesn’t want to cancel or postpone the tournament this year,” he said.
“They’re committed to it. They prefer this tournament. They know Halifax can do it. They know Moncton can do it. You can’t predict the unpredictable.”
It is the second time Canada has hosted the World Junior Hockey Championships in four months.
The elite U20 tournament will return to Atlantic Canada for the first time in 20 years. Halifax and Sydney, NS co-hosted the 2003 tournament.
The International Ice Hockey Federation had to find a new venue for the upcoming event after Russia was stripped of its hosting rights due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Halifax County. Tony Mancini said the games would bring the two cities a $50 million economic boost, including $35 million in Nova Scotia.
The 2023 championship begins December 26, just months after the 2022 edition, which was won by Canada and completed in Edmonton. The tournament runs until January 5, 2013.
A number of council members supported changes at Hockey Canada, but added that more scrutiny was needed.
count. Lisa Blackburn said Hockey Canada needs complete systemic change.
“Through their actions, they have taught these boys, who are now men, that it is okay to use women however they want and they are supported,” she said.
“They taught these guys through their actions … that it’s okay to cover up this wrongdoing and bury it before the exam.”
When the organization was given an opportunity for transparency at a parliamentary hearing, Blackburn said Hockey Canada chose instead to present itself as “arrogant, unmusical and its testimony reeked of hubris”.
While the city of Halifax had a good relationship with Hockey Canada, Savage said the way the allegations were handled was unacceptable and lacked accountability.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 12, 2022.