Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians have lost faith in Hockey Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians have lost faith in Hockey Canada

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Hockey Canada's leadership has lost the confidence of the federal government — and Canadians.

Trudeau made the comments to reporters Wednesday. They came after Hockey Canada's board of directors released a statement earlier this week saying it supported president and chief executive officer Scott Smith and his executive team despite calls for change of the organization's leadership.

Hockey Canada has come under criticism for its handling of sexual assault allegations involving players with the 2003 and 2018 world junior teams.

"It’s fairly clear that both the government and Canadians in general have lost confidence in the leadership at Hockey Canada," Trudeau said. "And the longer it takes for Hockey Canada to realize that, the more difficulties they’re going to face."

Interim board chair Andrea Skinner announced the backing of Smith and Hockey Canada's executive in a statement posted Monday on its website.

It's the second time Trudeau has criticized Hockey Canada's response to the allegations.

Speaking in Nova Scotia on July 21, Trudeau said there needs to be a "real reckoning" at Hockey Canada for its handling of the 2018 allegation and subsequent out-of-court settlement with the complainant.

Smith and other Hockey Canada executives have testified twice before the House of Commons' heritage committee regarding the allegations, and the revelation that the organization used money from its National Equity Fund, which comes from player fees, for uninsured payments including the settlement of sexual abuse claims.

The organization has said since that the fund will no longer be used to settle sexual assault settlements.

Hockey Canada has faced multi-partisan calls for change from MPs at the heritage committee's hearings.

So far, the only change in Hockey Canada's leadership since the allegations first surfaced has been the resignation of previous board chair Michael Brind’Amour. He stepped down Aug. 6 before his term was set to end in November.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2022.

The Canadian Press