Hockey Canada’s independent nomination committee will select eight directors and a new board chair from more than 550 applicants instead of putting candidates up for a wider vote, according to a letter sent to provincial and territorial members.
In the document dated Thursday, the committee said it is “hard at work” and “very encouraged” by the resumes received from Canadians hoping to head the sport’s national organization following a scandal-filled six months that led to the departure of president and CEO Scott Smith and the resignation of the board in October.
But the letter added the committee is making “very hard choices” to pare down the list to just nine names that will be put forward to members ahead of the board vote set for Dec. 17.
Nomination committee chair Mike Bruni told The Canadian Press in an email that the 13 provincial and territorial members under Hockey Canada’s umbrella authorized the format, adding the vote will be for the entire slate — not individual candidates.
Bruni, a Calgary-based lawyer, said with a “very thorough vetting and interview process” and assistance from an outside management consulting firm, the committee is “fully confident” in the process.
Hockey Canada has faced intense scrutiny since May when it was revealed the organization quietly settled a lawsuit after a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted by eight players, including members of the country’s world junior team, following a 2018 gala in London, Ont.
The federal government and corporate sponsors either paused or halted financial support, but the ugly headlines continued with the revelation of the so-called National Equity Fund (NEF), which is maintained by registration fees and used to pay uninsured liabilities, including sexual assault and abuse claims.
Hockey Canada then announced members of the 2003 men’s world junior roster were being investigated for a group sexual assault before an official testified on Parliament Hill in July the organization had paid out millions to victims since the late 1980s.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The nomination committee’s letter said the body is made up of seven people from Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.
It’s unclear how the makeup of the committee was decided.
In its letter, the committee praised the “depth and scope” of candidates looking to fill Hockey Canada’s board following an independent governance review led by former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell.
The report made a number of recommendations related to leadership, transparency and how the NEF and two other funds should be managed moving forward.
“It is impossible to read the resumes and cover letters and not have a very good feeling about the future of hockey in Canada,” Bruni is quoted in the letter. “It is truly amazing how the country has responded in such a positive way.”
Bruni didn’t immediately respond to follow-up email questions about candidate names being released before the Dec. 17 vote, what happens if members don’t ratify the new board or if there are concerns about the transparency.
“A common theme across applications is a strong desire to provide solutions, highlighting empathetic leadership skills that are so relevant in today’s world,” said Quebec-based committee member Alain Deschamps in the letter.
The committee wrote that it received pitches from police officers, teachers, business leaders, immigrants, surgeons, hockey parents, Olympians, Paralympians, politicians, judges and a pastry chef “who set out a recipe for rebuilding the Hockey Canada organization.”
“The downside with so many willing to help, is turning away outstanding candidates,” the letter read. “The tone at the top is very important.
“The Hockey Canada chair and board will need to restore public confidence in their decision-making process right out of the gate.”