The latest development in the Hockey Canada saga led to Michael Brind’Amour stepping down as Chairman of the Board of Directors on Friday night, effective immediately.
“My last term ends in November 2022 and I know there is no need to wait for a new era. Immediate action is imperative to address the important challenges facing our organization and our sport,” Brind’Amour explained in a Hockey Canada-News publication.
The Board of Directors and members of Hockey Canada will meet in the coming days to determine next steps and appoint an interim chairman.
The next board election is scheduled for the annual meeting in November.
In June, the organization’s access to public funds was frozen by the federal government over its response to an alleged sexual assault and subsequent out-of-court settlement.
A woman filed a $3.5 million lawsuit in April alleging eight ice hockey players, including members of Canada’s junior world team, sexually assaulted her in 2018. Hockey Canada reached an agreement with a young woman the next month.
The complainant says she always cooperated fully with a police investigation into her case, although Hockey Canada originally said she did not.
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Recently, retail giant Canadian Tire and telecommunications company Telus, among others, paused their Hockey Canada sponsorships.
And last month, Hockey Canada executives testified before a House of Commons committee on Wednesday that since 1989 they have paid $8.9 million in sex abuse settlements to 21 complainants from the National Equity Fund, which they say is through membership dues and investment is generated.
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“I have listened carefully and attentively to the comments from Canadians about the culture of our sport and our organization, as well as our actions and leadership,” Brind’Amour said in a statement. “I understand that the measures we have taken over the past few weeks are part of the solution.
“I am reassured that the Honorable Thomas Cromwell, CC, has agreed to lead a governance review of our organization which will help us make the changes needed. I am confident that the recommendations will lead the organization into a future of desired change.”
On Friday, Canada’s 13 regional ice hockey federations announced they are threatening to withhold royalty payments from Hockey Canada over alleged abuse by the organization in 2018 of sexual assault allegations.
Led by Hockey Quebec, the organizations sent a letter Thursday asking for a detailed plan of action and an “extraordinary” meeting by the end of November to address their concerns.
The lawsuit, which was not proven in court, says the hockey players brought golf clubs into the hotel room to further intimidate her, ordered the woman to shower after the sexual assault, and told her to say she was sober , while they videotaped consent video.
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As first reported by the Globe and Mail earlier this week, the applicant’s lawyer, Robert Talach, released a statement saying that his client made it clear to police in June 2018 that she wanted the criminal complaint to be pursued.
Talach provided a number of new details about the case, including that within days of the alleged sexual assault, his client spoke to a detective and underwent a physical exam at a hospital.
His client also later turned her clothing over to police for examination and met with officers on two other occasions this summer, Talach said. After seven months, she was told that the investigation was closed and no charges would be brought.
Following an outpouring of public outrage, the London Police Chief recently announced he would be conducting an internal review to “determine what, if any, additional investigative avenues exist”.
Talach said his law firm set up a lie detector test for the woman, which she passed. The findings have since been made available to investigators from Police and Hockey Canada, as well as the NHL, which launched its own investigation in May.
Talach confirmed that his client will not sit down for an interview with Hockey Canada or NHL investigators because she has already provided an eight-page statement, five pages of photos and 4.5 pages of text messages.