Thursday, October 6, 2022

Astounding Stubbornness

It is difficult to watch and read about. The revelations that Hockey Canada has been paying off victims of sexual assault are ugly; that ugliness is compounded by the fact that the money used was derived from the National Equity Fund, which is paid for by user fees from hockey players, including children, across Canada, as well as a second fund for the same vile purpose. The use of those funds for what is essentially hush money is going over well with neither the federal government nor the corporate sponsors, and both have suspended their funding of the organization. (In a new development, both Hockey Quebec and Tim Hortons have also taken measures against the organization.)

But Hockey Canada's leadership is hanging tight, brazenly resisting efforts for a full house-cleaning. Indeed, the board's insistence that their CEO, Scott Smith, under whose auspices the payoffs payouts were made, is the best man to lead them into a scandal-free future.

It is an insult to anyone of even average intelligence to suggest that the horrible crimes the upper echelon of the organization hid and even facilitated is just a big misunderstanding that can be taken care of by the guy who oversaw most of the crimes. By acting entirely out of organizational self-interest, the reputation of Hockey Canada taking precedence over a course of justice, the organization revealed itself as the corrupt entity it has become.

But one suspects that Acting Chair of the Board, Andrea Skinner is, or at least was until recently, confident they could pull this off with nary a ripple. The big clue is the hiring of the PR firm Navigator, revealed while Skinner was testifying in front of the heritage committee.

Conservative MP John Nater, brandishing minutes of Hockey Canada board meetings, noted that the organization had hired Navigator, a crisis communications firm, and received advice that it had to “shift the narrative” and get out the message that the fund used to pay sexual assault victims was meant to protect children and compensate victims.

“Settlement payments must be viewed in a positive manner, not a negative manner,” Nater said, reading from the board minutes. “Repetition required to state the narrative.”

He commented: “I find this deeply troubling that the organization is more concerned with shifting the narrative than with meaningfully implementing change.”

Committee Chair Heddy Fry described the

... sweep-it-under-the-rug culture at Hockey Canada.

“I have heard questions being asked. I have not heard a lot of the answers being given,” Fry said at the conclusion of the two-hour hearing.

She said the witnesses showed no sense of accountability or a willingness to be “rational and reasonable about what everyone is deeming to be a culture” that has fallen into a pattern of paying off sexual abuse victims, allowing perpetrators to walk away unpunished and hiding evidence of the sport’s problems with sexual violence.

So why is Hockey Canada defending Scott Smith, the CEO? I have my suspicions, but the official word from Skinner is this:

.... radical change, such as the removal of Hockey Canada’s board and senior executives, as many have demanded, would be detrimental to the reforms that the organization is putting in place and to the sport more generally, she said.

 “I think there is a significant risk to all of the organization if all of the board resigns and all of senior leadership is no longer there. I think that will be very impactful in a negative way to all of our boys and girls who play hockey,” she said. “Will the lights stay on in the rink? I don’t know. We can’t predict that, and to me that’s not a risk worth taking.”

All of this ultimately makes no sense. Arguing that the foxes should continue to guard the henhouse would simply lead to more of the same behaviour that has crippled Hockey Canada and created national uproar.

Hanging tight is no longer a reasonable or sane strategy when a structure is going up in flames.


  1. It is just enabling sexual assault or underage prostitution with a few more steps. The bunch should be arrested on procurement charges rather than being asked to resign.
    It would have been far cheaper and a thousand times more honest to just buy the little celebrating entitled pseudo gladiators
    a couple of hookers.
    And "it will cost more in reputation if we admit the core rottenness"' is a pathetic bargaining position.

    1. They clearly need to rebuild from the top down, lungta. Their refusal to do so is a position that they cannot sustain if they ever hope to have government, public and corporate support again.

  2. Why aren't there criminal charges against CEO, Scott Smith and others who facilitated these crimes?

    1. An excellent question, Toby. The hockey players who allegedly engaged in these assaults are not the only criminals here.

  3. This is not only happening in hockey not to make light of this entire debacle. What needs to be address is the attitude of men toward women in 2022. For an older Judge to ask a young 5’ 2 “ who was fighting against a 6’2” man, “ why didn’t you keep your knees together”. …..there is something very wrong with the attitude of Many men, and the Justice system in this country. When men can get away with raping women and claim its women’ fault there is something very, very wrong. When men are found guilty of this hanice act, they should be sentenced to spending time with a psychologist until they are rehabilitated. Anyong

    1. Even though we live in the 21st Century, Anyong, men's attitudes and actions often reflect a much earlier, much darker period.