It’s unfortunate, but the 2022 version of Team Canada at the World Juniors that start August 9th in Edmonton will carry the weight of the Hockey Canada scandal news that coincides. ‘Cover-ups’, ‘scandals’, pick a synonym, either way, the ongoing drama and trauma that’s been unfolding in Canada’s Parliament and with investigators in multiple jurisdictions will undoubtedly cast a shadow during the tournament proceedings.
It shouldn’t, because the Team Canada 2002 and 2003-borns taking part in the tournament have nothing to do with any of it, other than they’re represented by the organization under scrutiny. It wouldn’t be ‘guilty by association’ in this case, it might just be ‘bad PR by osmosis’.
In the past couple of weeks we’ve learned that a woman was quickly paid off by Hockey Canada for her sexual assault allegations related to an incident involving eight 2018 Team Canada junior players that summer at the Hockey Canada gala in London, Ontario. The organization used what was essentially a secret slush fund to pay off this and other sexual assault claims over the years, using the money obtained by a number sources including hockey player membership fees.
Hockey Canada and the London Police ended their investigations soon after the settlement in 2018 because the complainant decided not to cooperate. The investigations have been re-opened.
Shortly after the news of the 2018 settlement and the ‘improper’ use of funds came to light, Hockey Canada then divulged that they had also botched or fell short in investigating a similar group sexual assault allegation related to the 2003 World Junior Team Canada in Halifax. Police there, and the organization, have also re-opened independent investigations into that incident.
Players from both the 2003 and 2018 teams have come forward to claim their innocence. The public awaits, and expects, to hear the names of the players apparently involved. That will only bring more drama and outrage. In other words, this whole mess will very likely get much worse before it gets any better, particularly with criminal investigations ongoing.
Canada’s national Parliament grilled executives of Hockey Canada on the topics this past week after the government had already suspended funding to the group, while at the same time a number of national sponsors disassociated.
TSN reported that “Members of Parliament from four Canadian political parties are calling for the government to convene a judicial inquiry to explore the issue of abuse in sports and provide survivors with a forum to share their stories.”
Some Members have also called for the resignation of all of Hockey Canada’s executives.
The scrutiny will pick back up after this August long weekend holiday.
Meanwhile, Team Canada will open the Covid-delayed 2022 tournament against Latvia on August 10th, on the second day of the proceedings.
The 2023 World Junior Championship will begin on schedule in December.