Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a strong statement on Thursday, saying there need to be wholesale changes in the country’s hockey governing body, which could include replacing Hockey Canada altogether.
“There needs to be wholesale change, they need to do it, they need to realize that if we have to create an organization — get rid of Hockey Canada — and create an organization called Canada Hockey instead, people will look at doing that,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.
“There is a lack of understanding that they have lost the confidence of Canadians. The sooner they get to that, the better it will be for everyone.”
The comments come after Hockey Canada returned to face scrutiny this week from the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. On Tuesday, former Hockey Canada board chair Michael Brind’Amour and interim chair Andrea Skinner faced tough questions, including why CEO Scott Smith had not been fired over the company’s handling of alleged sexual assaults.
Trudeau said Hockey Canada has lost the “confidence of Canadians” and that he thinks it’s “inconceivable” that the group can remain with its current leadership.
“It’s not like there’s something extraordinarily special about the people at Hockey Canada that means they are the only people in the country that can run an organization like this,” Trudeau said.
“There’s lots of people who could run it, and unfortunately, the total loss of faith in that organization by everyone means that it’s nonsensical that they’d be digging in their heels on this one.”
Many of Hockey Canada’s top sponsors, including Tim Hortons, Scotiabank and Canadian Tire, have either limited or stopped all funding entirely.
The Canadian government froze funding to Hockey Canada earlier this year after news broke that it had settled a $3.55 million lawsuit with a woman who alleged eight hockey players sexually assaulted her. The allegations have not been proven in court as of now.
Earlier this week, Hockey Quebec said it will no longer transfer funds to Hockey Canada. Ontario Hockey Federation also asked for its fees to not be collected by the national organization.