Former CEO of Hockey Canada subpoenaed to testify before committee


The House of Commons Legacy Committee has ordered another round of hearings on Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault allegations, with past and current top executives and CEOs summoned to testify.

At a Tuesday meeting, the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee agreed to order interim Hockey Canada CEO Andrea Skinner, former chairman Michael Brind’Amour, and former president and chief executive officer Bob Nicholson to stay at a hearing on April 4. to appear in October.

This is the first time a member of the board has been subpoenaed and will also be Nicholson’s first appearance. Current Hockey Canada President and CEO Scott Smith and Tom Renney, who preceded Smith and succeeded Nicholson in the roles, testified at two previous hearings.

The committee held the first round of hearings on June 20 after a gala hosted by Hockey Canada in London, Ontario and a tacit settlement between the organization and the complainant of an alleged sexual assault involving players from the Canada junior world team in 2018 the message came.

The federal government froze its funding for Hockey Canada two days later, and several corporate sponsors stopped supporting it.

Hockey Canada came under closer scrutiny when The Canadian Press reported that it had used a reserve fund built in part from hockey registration fees to settle uninsurable claims, including settlements of sexual assault cases.

A second allegation against members of the 2003 junior team surfaced on July 22. Another round of parliamentary hearings took place on July 26-27, at which a bipartisan group of MPs called for a change in leadership of Hockey Canada.

Skinner took over as chairman of the board after Brind’Amour resigned on August 6 before his term was due to end in November. Shortly thereafter, Hockey Canada released a statement of support

Smith, who was the focus of much of the MPs’ questioning in the first two rounds of the hearing.

Nicholson served as Chief Executive Officer of Hockey Canada from June 1, 1998 to June 1, 2014. Today he is the chairman of the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL.

Hockey Canada’s governance is currently under review, led by Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell. which is expected to make interim recommendations before its annual general meeting in November.

Smith said he believes he deserves to lead Hockey Canada but said he was “ready to accept the findings of the review.”

Also on Wednesday, Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge criticized the wording of a survey by Hockey Canada to its members asking questions about how the allegations were being dealt with.

Questions included whether respondents agreed or disagreed with the statement: “Media criticism of Hockey Canada is overdone.”

“If we ask multiple times if it’s the media that caused this crisis when we talk about possible rape, I think that underestimates the depth of the problem,” St-Onge told reporters in Ottawa.

Hockey Canada said Wednesday the poll was created to measure sentiment and awareness among members of the hockey community about the issues facing Hockey Canada.

“Hockey Canada has under no circumstances downplayed the challenges our organization faces or the horrific sexual assault allegations against former members of the junior national team,” the governing body said in a statement. “We have made it very clear that we recognize that we must do better and are committed to making the necessary changes to create a safe and positive environment for all competitors, on and off the ice.”

— With files by Mia Rabson.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 21, 2022.