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The Death Pool – Hockey Canada Had Sexual Assault Settlement Slush Fund?

Hockey Canada is in deep trouble. Make no mistake, Hockey Canada is facing a crisis that only they could have foreseen and it now looks like they may have, and planned for it.

Yesterday the Globe and Mail reported that Hockey Canada had created a special multimillion-dollar fund financed by registration fees of players across the country used to settle abuse claims with minimal outside scrutiny.

Grant Robertson reported that the money used to settle the $3.55-million claim came from a previously undisclosed multimillion-dollar fund seeded by player registrations, and that the fund was first recorded in 2013.

It is called the National Equity Fund, and Hockey Canada defended it by saying the money was also used for concussion grants research, criminal background checks for organization staff, donations to Kids Help Phone, insurance premiums — which already make up a large amount of player registration fees — as well as “to cover any claims not otherwise covered by insurance policies, including those related to physical injury, harassment, and sexual misconduct.”

A slush fund? Every Canadian playing hockey contributed to this slush fund. Think about that for a minute. Every Canadian who believed their fee’s were going to support Hockey Canada and the growth of the sport, could now have a claim that Hockey Canada duped them out of their money. Every Canadian could have a claim that could be enforced in court for damages.

It is standard business practice for any large organization that deals with children to carry insurance that includes coverage for historical sexual assault; it is not common for such organization to carry a slush fund to cover for potentially criminal behavior.

And that’s what this fund appears to have been used for. In Parliamentary testimony last month, Hockey Canada president Tom Renney said, “We don’t know exactly what occurred that night or the identities of those involved, (but) we recognize that the conduct was unacceptable and incompatible with Hockey Canada’s values and expectations, and that it clearly caused harm.”

Hockey Canada didn’t know what happened? Or who was involved beyond the fact that they were players? But they paid an undisclosed amount to settle the case with money that is earmarked for this kind of crisis? That seems like the definition of a slush fund to cover up bad and even potentially criminal behavior by actors beneficial to your organization. 

With sponsors like Tim Hortons and Canada Tire leaving, as well as the Canadian Government pulling funding, Hockey Canada is in trouble.

Only a complete housekeeping and stripping down all barriers used in accounting will be sufficient at this point. Every person involved will been to be removed, and a criminal investigation should be completed.

Hockey Canada will likely never be the same, and it shouldn’t be.

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