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Hockey Canada CEO says he won't resign, wants to lead culture change

Hockey Canada CEO says he won't resign, wants to lead culture change

Reuters · 07/27/2022 13:27
Hockey Canada CEO says he won't resign, wants to lead culture change

By Frank Pingue

- Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith said on Wednesday he has plans to resign amid a scandal over how the organization handled allegations of sexual assault, but would step down if it was suggested by the board of directors.

Smith, appearing before a Canadian parliamentary hearing on a scandal that has rocked the governing body, said he is the right person to spearhead efforts for positive change within the sport across the hockey-loving country.

"I am prepared to take on this responsibility for change within our game. I believe I've got the experience to do it," said Smith, who joined Hockey Canada's head office in 1997 and took over as chief executive officer on July 1.

"Should our board or the governance review that we've outlined in our action plan suggest that I am the person, then I am prepared to accept that."

Hockey Canada has been under fire since broke in May of an alleged group sexual assault in London, Ontario, involving eight members of the country's 2018 world junior team and subsequent out-of-court settlement.

The allegations against the unnamed players have been proved in court but the Canadian federal government has frozen funding to the governing body over its handling of the alleged sexual assault.

The embattled organization has since said it will longer use a fund that was financed by registration fees of players across the country to settle sexual assault claims and also announced a full governance review.

During his opening remarks, Smith said he understands that Canadians' trust in Hockey Canada "has been eroded" but that the organization is committed to taking every action possible to earning it back.

"You have asked for transparency, you have asked for accountability. You've asked for Hockey Canada to change. I am here to lead that change," said Smith.

"I took on this role just over a month ago just as you and Canadians challenged us to fix our house. I will walk away from the demands you have rightly put before us. We can and must do better."

Hockey Canada said last week that it learned of a second allegation of group sexual assault involving some members of the 2003 team during that year's world junior championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Police in Halifax have opened an investigation into the alleged sexual assault while authorities in London re-opened an investigation after their original eight-month probe into the alleged 2018 incident ended with criminal charges being laid.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto
Editing by Toby Davis)

((frank.pingue@thomsonreuters.com; +1-647-480-7636; Reuters Messaging: frank.pingue.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.))