Hockey Canada’s CEO leaves, entire board of directors steps down

After weeks of speculation, Hockey Canada’s chief executive officer Scott Smith and the organization’s entire board have stepped down.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the resignations of Hockey Canada’s chief executive officer Scott Smith and the organization’s entire board is a good start, but there is still work to do.

“There is a culture to change,” Trudeau said Tuesday. “There is an awful lot of work to ensure that the structures and systems that Hockey Canada has in place protects employees, protects Canadians, protects our kids as they play hockey,”

The resignation of Hockey Canada’s executives comes after weeks of speculation.

In a statement Tuesday, the organization says an interim management committee will be put in place “which will guide the organization until no later than a newly constituted Board appoints a new CEO to lead the organization.”

“Recognizing the urgent need for new leadership and perspectives, the entire Board of Directors announced it will step aside and pursuant to Hockey Canada’s By-Laws, the Board will ask its Members to select a new slate of directors by no later than the forthcoming virtual election scheduled for December 17, 2022,” the organization wrote.

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The board will not seek re-election, but will fulfill its “fiduciary duties” until a new board has been elected.

According to the organization, the interim management team will be focussed on day-to-day operations and continue to work on the implementation of Hockey Canada’s Action Plan, “including reviewing and working with the Board and Members towards the full implementation of the independent governance review recommendations from The Honourable Thomas Cromwell, C.C., former Supreme Court Justice as well as working to facilitate the effective transition to a new CEO and Board.”

Hockey Canada has been under continued pressure to effectively address allegations of sexual assault involving past players.

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The leadership changes come after a parliamentary committee meeting heard of the organization’s handling of the allegations. Former interim chair Andrea Skinner testified at the hearing and then resigned after many were dissatisfied with her answers.

Things especially intensified last week for the organization, as Trudeau called to dismantle the group. Several key sponsors have also pulled their funding, including Chevrolet, Tim Hortons, Telus, and most recently Tuesday morning, Bauer Hockey.

A Hockey Canada official testified on Parliament Hill in July the organization had doled out $7.6 million in nine settlements related to sexual assault and abuse claims since 1989, not including this year’s payout to the London plaintiff. The majority went to the victims of disgraced former junior hockey coach Graham James.

The organization then announced members of the 2003 men’s world junior team are being investigated for a group sexual assault, as calls for change at the top mounted. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

With files from Sonia Aslam and The Canadian Press

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