MP questions what, when sports minister knew about Hockey Canada sexual assault

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Editor’s Note: The following story deals with sexual assault, and may be distressing for some readers.

If you or someone you know is in need of support, those in Canada can find province-specific centres, crisis lines and services here. For readers in America, a list of resources and references for survivors and their loved ones can be found here.

A member of Parliament has questioned Canada’s sports minister on what the government knew about an alleged sexual assault at a 2018 Hockey Canada event and when.

Hockey Canada was called on the carpet recently by the Canadian government, and subsequently lost some corporate sponsorship, over its handling of an alleged sexual assault in London, Ont., the night following its 2018 gala event.

Hockey Canada executives told a government standing committee last month that it notified Sport Canada about the allegations back in 2018, New Democrat MP Peter Julian pointed out in a letter sent Tuesday to Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge.

“Was that information passed on to the Minister of Sport?” Julian asked in the letter. “If not, why not? If the Minister was informed, why didn’t the Minister at the time act on that information?

“Parents who have kids in hockey have the right to know why Hockey Canada handled this case in such an irresponsible manner and how the government reacted.

“Canadians deserve to know what their government is doing concretely for a real culture change in the face of sexual misconduct and assault at Hockey Canada and in other sports organizations across the country.”

The minister’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

As first reported by Rick Westhead of TSN, Hockey Canada recently settled a lawsuit filed by the woman, now 24, who alleged that she was repeatedly raped by eight unnamed junior hockey players who were members of Canada’s under-20 men’s hockey team that year.

Those allegations were not proven in court.

Hockey Canada executives appeared before a Canadian Heritage Standing Committee in Ottawa on June 20. The committee scheduled more hearings for July 26-27.

St-Onge froze Hockey Canada’s federal funding until it produces a report by a third-party law firm that Hockey Canada had hired to investigate the case.

When St-Onge was named sports minister last October, she became the third person to oversee that portfolio since 2018. 

Kirsty Duncan was sports minister from January 2018 until November 2019. 

Sport then fell under the Heritage umbrella and Minister Steven Guilbeault until St-Onge’s appointment.

When asked by Sportsnet to comment about being subpoenaed to appear in front of the Heritage committee on July 26-27 to testify, St-Onge issued this statement through a spokesperson: “My priority as Minister is safety in sport. I am committed to working and collaborating with the committee.’’

Julian, who represents New Westminster-Burnaby, B.C., contends there were too many questions left unanswered in the June 20 hearing in Ottawa. He demanded further investigation by St-Onge.

“Canadians are shocked to hear about this situation, and they want to see action to prevent this from happening again,” he wrote.

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