A former Supreme Court of Canada judge and two partners from Canada’s largest law firm will lead an independent review of the governance of Hockey Canada, which has been under heavy fire for the handling of recent allegations of sexual assault against players.
Former top court justice Thomas Cromwell, who has previously chaired the Chief Justice of Canada’s Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, will lead the independent review supported by partners Victoria Prince and Nadia Effendi of Borden Ladner Gervais, Hockey Canada announced Thursday.
In hockey-mad Canada, the sport’s national governing body has come under intense public and political scrutiny over its culture and how it settled a $3.5 million group sexual assault case in 2018 involving players on Canada’s world junior team.
Hockey Canada executives shocked Canadians when they told a government committee at the end of July that they’ve paid $8.9 million Canadian dollars for sexual abuse settlements to 21 complainants since 1989. The organization has since said it no longer uses the fund to settle sexual assault claims.
At that same hearing, CEO Scott Smith told parliamentarians that he will not resign his position and can create change in the embattled organization.
Thomas sat on the Supreme Court of Canada from December 2008 to September 2016 and on the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal from 1997 to 2008.
Prince is Borden Ladner’s national leader of its charities and not-for-profit law group. She counsels charities and nonprofits on a wide range of issues, including corporate governance advice and training.
Effendi chairs the public law and appellate advocacy group at Borden Ladner and has appeared before all levels of courts, including numerous times before the Supreme Court of Canada. She was recently lead counsel to Louise Arbour, another former Supreme Court of Canada justice, in an independent external review into the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence’s response to sexual misconduct and harassment within Canada’s military.
Hockey Canada said in a statement that the review will begin immediately and is expected to provide interim recommendations before its annual general meeting in November.
The review will “examine the organization and make recommendations to ensure its governance structure, systems, personnel and processes are geared to the requirements and best practices of a national sport organization of similar size, scope and influence in Canada,” Hockey Canada stated.