Canadian MPs Call For New Hockey Canada Leadership

Witnesses Scott Smith, Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer (left), and Hockey Canada chief financial officer Brian Cairo appear before the standing committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. The committee is looking into how Hockey Canada handled allegations of sexual assault and a subsequent lawsuit. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

By Dan Robson The Athletic

Multiple MPs charged that Hockey Canada executives should resign during a parliamentary hearing in Ottawa on Wednesday.

“Canadians have lost trust,” MP Kevin Waugh told current Hockey Canada president and CEO Scott Smith in the second day of hearings by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Smith and other Hockey Canada officials were grilled by MPs about how the organization handled the allegations of sexual assault that followed a Hockey Canada Foundation fundraising gala in London, Ont., in 2018 — and the subsequent decision to settle a civil suit in the case when it was filed in spring 2022.

“I think it is time for new leadership,” said MP Peter Julian.

Smith asked for time to show the public the change and progress that Hockey Canada is committed to making — but said that if a review of the organization’s governance review determines that he’s not the person for the job, he would accept that decision.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Hockey Canada officials disclosed that the organization paid out a total of $7.6 million to settle nine sexual abuse claims using a fund that is partially fed by player registration fees, according to Hockey Canada’s chief financial officer Brian Cairo.

Most of that settlement money, $6.8 million, went towards settling claims related to Graham James, the disgraced coach who was convicted of sexually assaulting several of his players, Cairo said. The claims reach back to the late 1980s.

The undisclosed amount paid out in the recent settlement made in the 2018 sexual assault allegations is not included in the $7.6 million figure, Smith later told reporters.