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Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault allegations ‘unacceptable,’ says Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says "all options" are on the table to get to the bottom of Hockey Canada's handling of sexual assault allegations.

Hockey Canada‘s handling of sexual assault allegations against multiple players on the 2018 national junior team is “unacceptable” — and “all options” are on the table to get to the bottom of what happened, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.TSN reported last month that the national hockey organization has settled a lawsuit with a woman who alleged eight members of the 2018 World Juniors championship team sexually assaulted her in a hotel room in London, Ont., following a gala celebrating the team’s gold-medal win that year.Federal officials have launched a financial audit of Hockey Canada to determine whether any taxpayer dollars were used in that settlement, which Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge said on Monday includes a non-disclosure agreement.“As a government we have continually stood up to push back on sexual misconduct and harassment at workplace across the country. Hockey Canada is no different,” Trudeau said during question period on Tuesday.Story continues below advertisement“We want to get to the bottom of this, and all options are being considered to determine the next steps. This behaviour is unacceptable.”St-Onge described the organization as having a “culture of silence” that appears to be deeply rooted when it comes to its handling of sexual assault allegations against players.She added she is “not satisfied” with testimony by Hockey Canada’s top leaders to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, where the officials came under repeated fire for what MPs said was a lack of accountability for members of the 2018 national juniors team alleged to have sexually assaulted a woman that year.“I think that all sports organizations should make sure that their members are accountable for their actions and for those types of allegations, so of course, I would expect players to cooperate when there are investigations such as this,” St-Onge said.“I find it extremely disturbing and it shows that the culture of silence is well instilled in this sport, and there needs to be more action from Hockey Canada, for sure, in those regards.”During question period, St-Onge added: “We will ensure that Hockey Canada is held accountable.”Trending StoriesOntario father whose 3 children were killed by drunk driver in 2015 dies by suicideBoy, 5, dies after being left in car for hours while mom prepped birthday party 0:38Sports minister says Hockey Canada must do more after alleged sex assaultsSports minister says Hockey Canada must do more after alleged sex assaultsSt-Onge had been asked what she made of testimony by outgoing CEO Tom Renney and president and COO Scott Smith, who will soon replace Renney as CEO, that players were “encouraged” but not required to participate in an external investigation into the allegations.Story continues below advertisementShe was also asked about comments by Smith that the organization has received one or two allegations of sexual assault each year over the past five or six years.The executives were called to testify after TSN reported Hockey Canada had settled a lawsuit with a woman who accused eight Canadian Hockey League players, including members of the 2018 national junior team that won world junior gold that year, of sexual assault following a Hockey Canada Foundation gala in London, Ont., in June 2018.Read more: Feds to investigate Hockey Canada sexual assault allegationsAccording to the statement of claim, the woman claimed she was repeatedly assaulted while intoxicated in a hotel room.She filed a $3.55-million lawsuit against Hockey Canada, the CHL and the unnamed players.Read more: Hockey Canada says players were not required to cooperate in 2018 sex assault probeThe lawsuit was settled, but no details of the settlement have been released.The allegations against the players have not been tested in court.St-Onge testified on Monday that Renney had told her shortly ahead of the TSN report that there was a non-disclosure agreement in place.Story continues below advertisementThree Conservative critics issued a joint statement on the matter on Tuesday in which they said while Canadians “glorify” hockey players, “we can never do that at the expense of our children, our sons and daughters and put in jeopardy our loved ones.”“Potential perpetrators of sexual assault are living out perhaps their wildest dreams of pursuing a career in professional hockey. They could one day become, coaches and mentors holding positions of power,” the statement said, before adding the federal government hasn’t done enough to act.“The Government must be held accountable. Hockey Canada’s officials must be held accountable. Canadians deserve answers. Victims deserve reassurance and protection. Nothing less is acceptable.”With files from Global’s Sean Boynton.© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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