Hockey Canada poll on reaction to scandal draws criticism

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A recent poll distributed by Hockey Canada has left some shaking their heads over what they see as disconnected questions about the organization’s handling of sexual assault allegations.

The survey was distributed to parents, volunteers and coaches, seeking to gauge opinions on the national sport body.

He has come under scrutiny since news broke this spring of an alleged sexual assault following a 2018 gala in London, Ont., involving eight unidentified players – including team members. World Junior Championship that year – and the settlement that followed.

Allegations of another gang sexual assault involving the 2003 World Junior Team emerged in July. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

“How can they be so ignorant”

Participants were asked to rate their level of agreement with several statements, including:

  • “the level of media criticism of Hockey Canada is exaggerated; »
  • “Incidents like this are unlikely to happen again;”
  • “The allegations relate to only a few hockey players and are not representative of hockey culture in this country.”

They were also asked to say how important it is for Hockey Canada, as it works “to address systemic issues in hockey”, to “stop using membership fees to cover claims of sexual misconduct not assured”.

Hockey Canada told a parliamentary committee that it got most of its settlement money from its National Equity Fund, which is funded in part by minor hockey league fees – a fact that aroused public outrage. The organization said in July that it no longer use the fund to settle such claims.

Ottawa’s Lisa Wallace is a sportswriter — covering all levels of hockey, from minor hockey to the NHL — and has a 15-year-old son who plays AAA hockey.

“Last night I was doing a survey [and] I was literally shaking my head and reading some of these questions, because I was like, ‘How can they be so ignorant?'”

Whether it’s Hockey Canada or the market research company Forsta which organizes the poll, Wallace said he felt those answering the questions didn’t fully understand how people feel about the organization at this time.

The issue of media coverage also left a bad taste.

“I just thought, ‘Really? Is that what you’re worried about? Like people are, you know, worried about being treated unfairly?'”

Participants were also asked for their views on whether the sports organization should implement enhanced character screening for all high-level players, a comprehensive tracking and reporting system for all player complaints abuse and apologize.

They were also asked if the sports body should “have inclusive and diverse leadership”, “explain what happened” and “introduce new leadership”.

In July, Hockey Canada issued an apology and announced it would relaunch a dormant third-party investigation into an alleged sexual assault. involving members of the World Junior Team.

It also named a lawyer as the new chairman of its board amid growing public pressure for a major management overhaul.

Range of questions asked

On social networks, screenshots of the survey questions are circulating. “The questions in this survey tell you exactly where their heads are at,” one tweet read. “So @HockeyCanada…..everything is hyped up by the media? Get on the mic and say that,” said another.

In a statement, the organization said it was not trying to downplay the challenges it faces or the “horrible allegations of sexual assault against former members of the national junior team”.

“Certain questions in the survey were designed to gauge the sentiment and awareness of members of the hockey community about the issues facing Hockey Canada,” the statement said.

“As to a few questions recently shared on social media, participants were given a series of statements to respond to indicating the extent to which they agreed or disagreed.”

Hockey Canada noted that those statements included, “I am reconsidering my child’s participation in hockey as a result of the allegations” and “there is nothing Hockey Canada can do to regain my trust.”

Wallace isn’t sure why the sports organization needed an investigation in the first place. She said the money could have been invested in better programs, such as instilling the importance of consent.

“It made me wonder, like, is their leadership so uninvolved that they don’t understand the pulse of Canadian parents right now? [To the degree] that you feel the need, once again, to spend money… to carry out this investigation?”

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