Hockey Canada has taken its first steps in rebuilding its board after CEO Scott Smith and other members resigned on Tuesday. This comes after months of scandals resulting from the organization’s abusive handling of allegations of sexual assault.
Hockey Canada and its members passed several revised bylaws during a special session Saturday. The changes aim to rebuild the organization from the top down and are effective immediately.
The changes were recommended by former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell, who released a 103-page interim report Thursday about Hockey Canada’s fractured board and blaming the organization’s senior management team.
“There must be no serious debate” Hockey Canada has lost the trust of stakeholders, Cromwell wrote in a memo to the Hockey Canada board on Monday.
Applications for positions on the Hockey Canada Board of Directors are reviewed and reviewed by an independent nominating committee, which also has the authority to place names on the ballot.
A new group of representatives will be elected at Hockey Canada’s AGM scheduled for December 17 after President and CEO Scott Smith and other board members resigned on Tuesday.
Cromwell also recommended that the board elected in December should be an “interim council”, serving for one year.
The interim committee will focus on “urgent tasks,” according to a Hockey Canada press release, but the organization has not spelled out what its first tasks might be.
Another change also updated the deadline for applications to the nominating committee, moving the date to November 10. This will give the committee additional time to recruit a third party to review applications.
“In light of the change in the schedule for submitting applications, nomination process materials will be made available to members until November 28, 2022,” the press release reads.
Cromwell is in the midst of a full governance review of Hockey Canada, which he was tasked with earlier this year, after the organization reached an undisclosed settlement with a woman who claimed she was from eight hockey players, including members of, sexually assaulted World Youth Team 2018. No allegations were proven in court.
A number of corporate sponsors withdrew their support from Hockey Canada in the days leading up to the board’s decision to step down. Local hockey associations like the Granby Minor Hockey Association quickly suspended payments to Hockey Canada when allegations surfaced.
“Maybe it was naive, maybe it was blunt, but at least we’re standing up as parents and I think (that’s) the message that’s been heard across Canada,” Francois Lemay, a councilman in Granby, Que., told the sport and oversees outdoor activities for the city, CTV News Channel said on Sunday.
After observing the organization, he said he wasn’t sure if the bylaw changes would bring about immediate positive change.
“I think there are so many questions in the air. We know Hockey Canada paid some victims for their silence, did the same happen in the provincial or territorial division?” Lemay said. “With good leadership, by leading by example, we can achieve good results, but it will take years.”
Other Cromwell recommendations include ensuring that the board is no more than 60 percent unisex, increasing director positions from nine to 13, and staggering the directors’ terms of office so that only a third of the positions are up for re-election each year.
With files from The Canadian Press