Michael Brind’Amour, chair of Hockey Canada’s board of directors, steps down

Hockey Canada Board Chair Michael Brind’Amour is stepping down.Hockey Canada

Hockey Canada’s board chairman has resigned amid controversy over the organization’s handling of sexual assault allegations, saying “there is no need to wait for a new era”.

Michael Brind’Amour’s last term was due to end in November, but he said immediate change was needed to meet the challenges facing the organization.

“I would not be able to carry out this renewal and I have therefore announced my resignation from the board of directors,” Mr. Brind’Amour said in a statement on Saturday.

His resignation comes just over a week after Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith said he would not step down.

Hockey Canada says the board will meet in the coming days to determine next steps and appoint a new chair.

The national hockey federation has come under scrutiny since it was revealed in late May that the organization had settled a lawsuit brought by a woman who claimed eight Canadian Hockey League players sexually assaulted her following at a Hockey Canada fundraising gala in London, Ont., in 2018. The players were not named in the lawsuit and have not been publicly identified, but they include members of the 2018 Canadian World Junior Team .

Representatives of Hockey Canada have twice testified before the Canadian Heritage parliamentary committee to investigate the conduct of the organization. The Department of Canadian Heritage oversees Sport Canada, which funds national sport organizations like Hockey Canada. The federal government froze funding for the organization in June.

The testimony of Hockey Canada officials in June was criticized by several MPs as opaque, inconsistent and dismissive.

On Friday, regional hockey federations across the country threatened to stop paying their dues to Hockey Canada unless it meets with provincial and territorial bodies and submits progress reports on their efforts to change the organization. .

In recent weeks, investigations into the 2018 sexual assault allegations have been reopened by London police and Toronto law firm Henein Hutchison, which has been retained by Hockey Canada to conduct an independent investigation into the incident. that happened after the gala. A police investigation was halted in 2019 because the woman refused to speak to investigators. Her lawyer says she will participate this time.

Although players were not required to cooperate with the third-party investigation in 2018, the organization now says that if players do not participate, they will be banned from Hockey Canada programs for life.

In addition to developments related to the alleged 2018 incident, police in Halifax, which co-hosted the 2003 World Junior Tournament, have opened an investigation into another alleged sexual assault.

Hockey Canada’s testimony late last month provided more details about what happened after the gala in 2018 and the organization’s handling of sexual assault claims generally. It also raised questions about transparency and record keeping at the board level.

Hockey Canada told MPs its board had decided – in a closed meeting – to authorize the maximum payout for the lawsuit linked to the 2018 allegations. The woman had sought $3.55 million in damages, according to the statement.

MPs criticized Hockey Canada for its lack of record keeping and its delay in providing the committee with minutes of recent meetings that were not held behind closed doors. Mr Smith said the minutes of those meetings had not yet been approved and therefore could not yet be delivered to Parliament.

“According to Hockey Canada’s practices, you can never prove in the future that you did or did not do something,” Liberal MP Anthony Housefather said of the organization’s practice of not take minutes for closed sessions.

Later in the hearings, Mr. Housefather told Mr. Smith that it was very unusual that there was such a long delay in the approval of the minutes of council. “The idea that you don’t approve the minutes of the board at the next board meeting, I’ve never heard of that,” he said.

On the eve of last month’s hearings, Hockey Canada released a 19-page document outlining an action plan to address the code of silence and toxic behavior in sport. The plan includes a commitment to a third-party governance review.

Brind’Amour said in his statement Saturday that a review of Hockey Canada’s governance by former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell will help bring change to the federation.

“I am confident that the recommendations will guide the organization into a future of desired change,” said Mr. Brind’Amour.

“I wish the best of success to those who will succeed me.”

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