Scotiabank is pausing its Hockey Canada sponsorship in the wake of the fallout from a sexual assault lawsuit settled by the national governing body last month, Scotiabank President and CEO Brian J. Porter said in an open letter to Hockey Canada and Canadians.
That lawsuit, filed by a young woman in April, alleged that she was sexually assaulted by eight hockey players in a London, Ontario hotel room in June 2018 following a Hockey Canada Foundation golf and gala event.
News of Hockey Canada’s out-of-court settlement has sparked outcry and governmental scrutiny, with the Standing Committee on National Heritage holding a hearing last week with Hockey Canada officials to probe their handling of the matter.
According to the open letter from Porter, Scotiabank is pausing the sponsorship “until we are confident the right steps are being taken to improve the culture within the sport – both on and off the ice.”
Porter adds Scotiabank is “expecting Hockey Canada to fully cooperate with the Federal Government’s audit” to ensure its sponsorship funding “was used as intended.”
As part of this paused sponsorship, Scotiabank is “canceling marketing and events at the upcoming World Junior Championship in August, and redirecting our sponsorship investment planned for the World Juniors to other programs, including the Hockey Canada Assist Fund, which is successfully helping to eliminate financial barriers to hockey for young people, and the Women’s World Championship.”
According to Porter, Scotiabank will also be “making a donation to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, a charity that supports women who are the victims of gender-based violence.”
“The time for change is long overdue,” Porter states in the letter. “We call on Hockey Canada to move with a sense of urgency in order to ensure that the game we love is held to the highest standards, and can truly be hockey for all.”
Last week, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage approved a motion for an independent investigation into how Hockey Canada handled the sexual assault allegations. Minister of Sport Pascal St-Onge also announced that the federal government was freezing funds until Hockey Canada meets multiple conditions, including signing on to a federal agency tasked with independently investing abuse claims, according to TSN.
Hockey Canada must also share the recommendations made by the law firm Henein Hutchison, hired by the organization to investigate the sexual assault allegations.
The Athletic has reached out to three additional Hockey Canada sponsors about its partnership with the organization but those companies have not responded to a request for comment.
(Top photo: Jerome Miron / USA Today)