A London, Ont., Conservative MP has co-issued a statement to push Parliament and the Department of Canadian Heritage to prioritize looking deeper into an alleged sexual assault involving Hockey Canada.
Earlier this month, Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge ordered a financial audit of an out-of-court settlement involving a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by junior hockey players following a Hockey Canada event in London in 2018.
“For four years, there was a cover-up here, (and) I’m just wondering why,” said Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio. “Why has it taken so long for this to come to light?”
As first reported by TSN, the woman accused eight Canadian Hockey League players, including members of the 2018 national junior team that won world junior gold that year, of sexual assault following a Hockey Canada Foundation gala in London in June of 2018.
She filed a $3.55-million lawsuit against Hockey Canada, the CHL and the unnamed players. The lawsuit was settled. The allegations against the players were never proven in court.
A motion passed earlier this month in the House of Commons summoned Hockey Canada to Canadian Heritage’s standing committee “to shed light on its involvement in a case of alleged sexual assaults committed in 2018.”
Vecchio, who is also the Conservative Shadow Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, says the minister of sport has called for a forensic audit, “but to date, that’s all that there is.”
“We need to do a forensic audit (but) we also need to look at what’s happening in some of these areas and (see) what we can do,” she said. “The government has been moving very slowly on this. I’m just not sure if they know what direction they need to go.”
St-Onge said she wants a forensic audit of the settlement to ensure Hockey Canada didn’t use taxpayer dollars to settle the case.
Government assistance accounts for six per cent of Hockey Canada’s funding, according to the organization’s 2020-21 annual report, which didn’t specify how much money that is.
Hockey Canada received a total of $7.8 million in Own The Podium high-performance funding for its men’s and women’s national teams in the four-year quadrennial between the 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics.
Own The Podium makes funding recommendations directing Sport Canada money to federations based on medal potential.
Vecchio is also asking Hockey Canada to consider reevaluating its policies to include off-ice relations.
“Many of their policies are peer-to-peer; coaches, parents. But they don’t really talk about the stuff off the ice (and) that’s something we need to look at.”
“Hockey Canada has to recognize that this is a criminal activity… They need to be accountable,” she added.
— With files from Global News’ Devon Peacock and The Canadian Press’ Donna Spencer.
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