Hockey Canada board chair steps down
The chair of Hockey Canada’s board of directors has resigned.
Michael Brind’Amour has resigned effective immediately, Hockey Canada said in a statement Saturday.
The organization is under intense scrutiny for its handling of sexual assault allegations against members of previous junior men’s teams.
“I have listened carefully and attentively to Canadians’ feedback on the culture of our sport and our organization, as well as our actions and our leadership,” Brind’Amour said in the statement. “I understand that the steps we have taken in recent weeks are part of the solution.
“My last term ends in November 2022, and I know there is no need to wait for a new era. Immediate action is essential to address the significant challenges facing our organization and our sport, whether our plan of action aims to accomplish.
“I would not be able to carry out this renewal.”
Brind’Amour was elected Chairman of the Board in 2018.
The federal government has frozen funding for Hockey Canada after it was revealed the organization quietly settled a lawsuit with a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by members of the 2018 Junior Men’s Team at the Hockey Canada Gala. Hockey Canada in London, Ontario that year.
Hockey Canada has since said members of the 2003 junior team are being investigated for alleged sexual assault in Nova Scotia.
Canada’s Minister of Sport, Pascale St-Onge, is withholding funds until she is satisfied that Hockey Canada meets its conditions, which were a financial audit of the organization, the production of recommendations for a review by a third-party law firm and an action plan for change, as well as the signing into the office of the new Sports Integrity Commissioner.
Sheldon Kennedy, a former NHL player and victims’ rights advocate, was among those calling on Hockey Canada management to step down.
Brind’Amour is the first to do so.
“We’re starting to see cracks in the fortress, and that’s how the light comes in,” St-Onge said Saturday in Niagara Falls, Ont., where she met with provincial and territorial sports leaders on the eve of the Games. from Canada.
“The Canadiens have sent a clear message to Hockey Canada that real leadership change is needed at all levels of the organization.
“I also agree with Michael Brind’Amour’s statement today… that there is no need to wait for a new era and that immediate action is essential.
“I still believe, like many, that greater diversity is needed to combat the culture of silence and toxic masculinity within the organization and sport.”
Brind’Amour’s resignation also follows Hockey Canada’s Thursday appointment of former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell to review the governance of the country’s hockey governing body.
The review is expected to provide draft recommendations before Hockey Canada’s Annual General Meeting in November.
Brind’Amour said he left confident that Cromwell taking on this job “will help us bring about the necessary changes. I am confident that the recommendations will guide the organization into a future of desired change.”
Additionally, Canada’s 13 provincial hockey federations earlier this week called for an “extraordinary meeting” with the struggling national body.
Led by Hockey Quebec, the 10 provincial associations and the three territorial associations want more information on the handling of allegations of sexual assault.
Hockey Canada had maintained a fund drawn from minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims.
The organization said it would no longer use its “national equity fund” to settle sexual assault complaints.
Provincial and territorial hockey associations have threatened to withhold payment with no response.
“It’s not my job to speak on behalf of the Ontario Hockey Federation,” Ontario Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Neil Lumsden said at Saturday’s press conference.
“But it’s like (St-Onge) said, it’s our job to weed out unacceptable behavior of any kind in sport. Our job, and as we’ve spent a lot of time talking about it, is to find ways to do it and do it the right way.”
Hockey Canada’s board of directors will meet in the coming days to determine next steps following Brind’Amour’s resignation and appoint an interim president, the organization said in its statement.
The next Board election is scheduled for the Annual General Meeting in November.
“The board needs to reassess whether the people who sit on the board are the right people to implement this change,” St-Onge said.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 6, 2022.