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Former Hockey Canada CEO Nicholson among those summoned to testify before committee | CBC News

The House of Commons heritage committee has ordered another round of hearings on Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault claims, with former and current top executives and board chairs summoned to testify.

In a meeting Tuesday, the standing committee on Canadian Heritage agreed to order Hockey Canada interim board of directors chair Andrea Skinner, former chair Michael Brind’Amour and former president and chief executive officer Bob Nicholson to appear at an Oct. 4 hearing.

It will be the third time Hockey Canada executives have testified before the committee since news broke of an alleged sexual assault involving players on Canada’s junior team in 2018 after a Hockey Canada gala in London, Ont., and a hushed settlement between the organization and the complainant.

A second allegation against members of the 2003 junior team has surfaced since.

Skinner took over as board of directors chair after Brind’Amour stepped down Aug. 6 before his term was set to end in November.

Nicholson was chief executive officer of Hockey Canada from June 1, 1998 until June 1, 2014. He now serves as chairman for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.

Lawyer Andrew Winton sits alongside Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith, centre, and CFO Brian Cairo, right, during parliamentary hearings in July. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

A recent survey distributed by Hockey Canada has left some shaking their heads over what they see as out-of-touch questions about the organization’s handling of sexual assault allegations.

The survey, which CBC News has seen, was distributed to parents, volunteers and coaches and asked for their opinions of the sport’s national body.

Participants were asked to rate their level of agreement with several statements, including:

  • “The level of criticism by the media toward Hockey Canada is overblown.”
  • “Incidents such as this are unlikely to happen again.”
  • “The allegations are only about a few hockey players and are not representative of the culture of hockey in this country.” 

They also were asked to weigh in on how important is it for Hockey Canada, while it works “to address systemic issues in hockey,” to “discontinue the use of membership fees to cover uninsured sexual misconduct claims.” 

Hockey Canada told a parliamentary committee it took most of its settlement money from its National Equity Fund, which is funded in part by minor hockey league registration fees — a fact that has sparked public outrage

The organization said in July it would no longer use the fund to settle such claims.

Asked about the survey Wednesday, Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge told reporters she wants “profound and thorough” changes at Hockey Canada, not a public relations exercise.

St-Onge also said the wording of the question regarding media coverage was off-base.

WATCH | Hockey Canada ‘underestimating’ sexual misconduct crisis in survey sent to members, minister says:

Hockey Canada ‘underestimating’ sexual misconduct crisis in survey sent to members, minister says

Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge criticized Hockey Canada for its attempt at “public relations management,” and says she’s looking for more concrete action after several allegations of sexual misconduct by players.

“Asking if it’s the media that created this whole crisis when we’re talking about possible rape, multiple times, I think it’s underestimating the depth of the problem and the urgency and the action that needs to happen,” she said.

In a statement, the organization said it wasn’t trying to downplay the challenges it’s facing or the “horrific allegations of sexual assault against former members of the National Junior Team.”

“Certain survey questions were constructed to gauge sentiment and awareness of the issues facing Hockey Canada from members of the hockey community,” the statement reads.

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