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Hockey Canada says 2019 email does not reflect the federation's "current direction"

TORONTO — Hockey Canada says a 2019 email detailing its desire to self-govern its safe-sport cases does not reflect the organization's current direction.
A Hockey Canada logo is visible on the helmet of a national junior team player during a training camp practice in Calgary, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

TORONTO — Hockey Canada says a 2019 email detailing its desire to self-govern its safe-sport cases does not reflect the organization's current direction.

The national federation, which has been under intense scrutiny since news of an alleged sexual assault in 2018, and subsequent hushed payment, broke in May, was reacting to a three-page email sent to the Sport Minister's office.

In the email obtained by The Canadian Press, Hockey Canada boasted of its safe-sport management that was "second to none" but raised concerns of a third-party investigator or a toll-free reporting line.

"Hockey Canada recognizes that we need to do more to foster a safe and positive environment on and off the ice," the governing body said in a statement Wednesday. "That is why we are implementing significant changes to how complaints are received and investigated. This includes the creation of a new independent third-party complaint process and becoming a full signatory of the Government's Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner."

Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge launched OSIC in June to perform independent investigations of claims of abuse and maltreatment in sport, and has set a deadline of April of 2023 for national sport organizations to sign agreements to work with the new office.

Weightlifting and volleyball are the only two national sport federations to sign on so far, although dozens of other NSOs are in negotiations.

The three-page email signed by Glen McCurdie, who was then Hockey Canada's vice-president of insurance and risk management, also detailed the organization's National Equity Fund used for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims.

"Hockey Canada's feedback as part of a 2019 safe sport consultation with the Office of the Minister of Science and Sport, does not reflect our organization's current thinking or direction on these issues," Hockey Canada said in the statement. "In fact, contrary to the letter (The Canadian Press) referenced, Hockey Canada proactively participated in the government's safe sport helpline, which included having third-party investigators investigate any claims it received.

"Through the consultation, Hockey Canada also provided information on our insurance policies related to sexual misconduct claims. As well, the use of the National Equity Fund is currently suspended and under review as part of an independent third-party governance review."

Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport from 2015 to 2019, said she did not receive the Hockey Canada email addressed to Michael Paramathasan, a former senior policy adviser for the sport minister, when it was sent Oct. 29, 2019.

The alleged sexual assault following a gala event in 2018 in London, Ont., involved eight unidentified players, including members of that year's world junior team. Allegations of gang sexual assault involving the 2003 world junior team emerged in July.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Hockey Canada has had its federal funding cut off because of its handling of the case and settlement, while a number of corporations have paused sponsorship dollars.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2022.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press