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Hockey Canada clarifies incidents reported to Sport Canada after discrepancy at committee – CBC News



Hockey Canada has clarified the number of incidents of alleged abuse, harassment or discrimination it has reported to Sport Canada since 2018, after the testimony of Hockey Canada’s president before the Commons heritage committee in late July mentioned fewer reported incidents than the figure Sport Canada officials had given MPs the day before.

Sport Canada has also since told CBC News that another incident was reported by Hockey Canada the day after its officials appeared as witnesses, bringing the total number of incidents disclosed over the last four years to nine.

As a condition of their funding agreements with the federal government, national sport organizations like Hockey Canada have been required since 2018 to immediately disclose any incident of harassment, abuse or discrimination “that could compromise the project of programming.” 


The incidents must also be reported to the proper authorities, which could include the police if a criminal investigation is warranted. Sport organizations are required to have formal policies in place to prevent harassment and abuse and address any cases that emerge, including providing access to an independent third party to investigate and make recommendations.

Sport Canada can’t investigate cases

During his testimony at committee on July 26, Michel Ruest, a senior director in charge of programs at Sport Canada, was asked by Bloc MP Andréanne Larouche for the exact number of incidents reported by Hockey Canada in each of the years since its funding agreement required these disclosures (2018-2022).

Ruest said there were eight cases reported to its confidential database. 

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Ruest said the confidential details of the allegations contained in these reports had on certain occasions been communicated internally, but only the overall statistics were shared with the minister’s office, not specific details. Sport Canada does not have the mandated authority to conduct investigations into these cases, he told MPs, and the disclosures to the government include “minimal information” — in accordance with the Privacy Act, Ruest said names are not shared unless they are already in the public domain. 

In response to a follow-up question by email from CBC News, Sport Canada broke down the reports in its database by year:

  • Two reports in 2018.
  • One in 2019. 
  • Three in 2020.
  • One in 2021.
  • Two in 2022.

The year of a report to Sport Canada doesn’t necessarily line up with the year an alleged incident took place.

Based on Hockey Canada’s committee testimony, the first incident reported in 2022 was the alleged group sexual assault by members of Canada’s 2003 national junior hockey team that occurred in Halifax, N.S., and is now the subject of a police investigation. It only became known to the public — and, hockey officials said in their testimony, Hockey Canada itself — in a TSN report earlier this summer.

Officials said they had only heard “rumours” about it a couple weeks before TSN published the results of its investigation, but reported it to Sport Canada immediately once the media report was out.

Discrepancy in number of cases

When he first appeared before the committee on June 20, Hockey Canada president Scott Smith told the committee he was not prepared to speak about specific incidents. During his testimony before the committee on July 27, Smith was asked by New Democrat MP Peter Julian whether he was now prepared to speak about the specifics of ongoing investigations.

Hockey Canada president Scott Smith is seen above during parliamentary hearing in July. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

This time, Smith was prepared to confirm that one of the incidents reported to Hockey Canada in 2018 was the alleged group sexual assault of a young woman in London, Ont., by members of the 2018 national junior team. This incident also only became public because last spring, TSN reported on a cash settlement paid to the young woman by Hockey Canada.

Smith told the committee that in addition to the two investigations involving members of the national junior teams from 2003 and 2018, there were two other reports that do not relate to sexual misconduct, bringing the total number of reports to Sport Canada by Hockey Canada to four, he told MPs.

The other two reports, Smith said, date to 2018 and 2021 and are related to a family that alleges abusive behaviour because their son and daughter have been prevented from registering for youth hockey because of the conduct of the father in arenas.

CBC News asked Hockey Canada why Sport Canada’s testimony mentioned receiving eight incident reports from its organization, and yet the next day Smith told MPs there had been four reports made to Sport Canada.

Hockey Canada spokesperson Jeremy Knight replied that Smith believed that Julian’s question was about open investigations only, not the total number of reports.

“Mr. Smith’s response refers to four open investigations which, as required, were reported to Sport Canada. Not all reports to Sport Canada since 2018 have open investigations,” Knight said.

Knight’s response suggests that the investigations into the four incidents reported in 2019 and 2020 are now closed or concluded. 

No details on the results of those investigations or even the nature of these incidents — including whether they involved alleged assault or abuse, harassment or discrimination — have been made public by either Hockey Canada or Sport Canada.

New incident reported day after testimony

The incident reported by Hockey Canada on July 28, the day following its testimony at committee, was “not a formal case,” a spokesperson for the minister of sport’s office told CBC News. 

Ariane Joazard-Bélizaire said a person had contacted Hockey Canada “to request information about the process for reporting possible mistreatment of an athlete from the Northwest Territories.” 

Hockey Canada advised this person to contact the police and gave the person information about the independent third-party mechanism in place for handling such cases, the minister’s spokesperson said.

The number of incidents reported to Sport Canada by hockey officials wasn’t the only confusing aspect of their July 27 testimony.

MPs also asked Hockey Canada officials exactly how much money had been paid to complainants of sexual abuse. The figure provided during the committee meeting — $8.9 million in total, from the organization’s national equity fund as well as insurance payments — did not, in fact, include the cash settlement paid to the complainant in the 2018 group assault involving junior team members.

WATCH | Woman says she co-operated with alleged sex assault inquiry involving World Junior players:

Woman says she co-operated with alleged sex assault inquiry involving World Junior hockey players

6 days ago

Duration 3:02

The female complainant who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Canadian hockey players part of the 2018 World Junior team says she fully co-operated at all times with a police investigation into her case — despite Hockey Canada originally saying she didn’t.

This omission was only revealed after the committee when journalists were questioning Smith in the hallway after his testimony. The president said an audited financial statement that includes the settlement to the young woman in the London, Ont., incident would not be completed until Hockey Canada’s annual meeting, so the total given to MPs did not include this most recent payout by the organization.

The exact amount paid to that young woman has not been confirmed, but her statement of claim was seeking $3.55 million and Smith told the committee that Hockey Canada’s board had endorsed “up to the maximum settlement number.”

“We didn’t know all of the details of the night [in question], but we did believe harm was caused,” Hockey Canada chief financial officer Brian Cairo told MPs.

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Canadian Navy offers ‘no strings attached’ program amid recruitment woes



The Royal Canadian Navy is offering a one-year trial period for Canadians to join with “no strings attached” as it faces a major recruitment challenge and unprecedented personnel shortage.

Under the new program launched Friday, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can join the navy on a year-long contract – either full-time or part-time – and then leave if they wish to after that.

Those who decide to stay on will be transferred to a naval trade.


Applications are open to people aged 16 to 57 years.

New recruits will undergo an eight-week basic military training and naval environmental training, in either Halifax, N.S., or Esquimalt, B.C., according to a media release by the Royal Canadian Navy.

“Life in the Navy can be demanding and challenging at times – it is not for everyone and that’s why the new Naval Experience Program gives participants the chance to experience life in the Navy, for one year, no strings attached,” said navy commander Vice-Adm. Angus Topshee, in a statement.

The salary will be equivalent to entry-level positions within the private sector, with paid rations and quarters, the RCN said.

The Canadian Armed Forces are in the midst of a recruiting crisis, with officials admitting that the number of applicants coming forward each month is about half what the military needs to meet its targets.

In an interview with The Canadian Press last year, Topshee said about 17 per cent of navy positions – equivalent to about 1,400 sailors – were vacant, as of September 2022.

“We need more people. We need them as quickly as we can get them,” he said at the time.

Amid the staffing crunch, the navy has started deploying less-experienced sailors on operations and eliminating certain positions as it struggles.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Forces in recent years have also been shaken by what experts have called a sexual misconduct “crisis.”

Defence Minister Anita Anand pledged to reform the military’s culture in “an ambitious roadmap” that was unveiled in December.

A review was formally launched in response to exclusive reporting by Global News into allegations of sexual misconduct at the highest ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces.

— with files from The Canadian Press



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Police recover 2 more bodies from St. Lawrence River near Ontario-Quebec border



Eight people are dead after they tried on Thursday to cross the St. Lawrence River into the United States near Akwesasne — a community which straddles Quebec, Ontario and New York state — according to officials. One other person is still missing.

Police recovered two more bodies from the river Friday, after discovering six bodies and an overturned boat during a missing person search Thursday afternoon.

The bodies are those of six adults and two children: one under the age of three who had a Canadian passport, the other an infant who was also a Canadian citizen, according to Shawn Dulude, the police chief for the nearby Kanien’kehá:ka community of Akwesasne. Dulude spoke to reporters at a Friday news conference.

They were found in a marsh on the riverbank.


They are believed to have been an Indian family and a Romanian family who were attempting to cross into the U.S., according to police.

Casey Oakes, 30, an Akwesasne resident, remains missing, police said. Oakes was last seen on Wednesday around 9:30 p.m. ET boarding a small, light blue vessel, leaving Cornwall Island. He was dressed in black, wearing a black face mask and a black tuque.

WATCH | Dulude speaks about the victims:

Police recover two more bodies from the St. Lawrence River

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Shawn Dulude, the chief of the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, says eight bodies have now been found after an overturned boat was spotted in the water on Thursday afternoon.

He was later reported missing, leading to the search efforts that found the bodies. Oakes is a person of interest in the case, said Dulude.

Police located Oakes’s vessel near the bodies, Lee-Ann O’Brien, the deputy chief of police for the Akwesasne Mohawk police service, said on Friday morning. Akwesasne is about 120 kilometres west of Montreal.

The IDs of the victims have not yet been released, pending notification of their next of kin.

A storm brought high winds and sleet into the area on Wednesday night. “It was not a good time to be out on the water,” O’Brien said.

“It could have been anything that caused this tragedy,” he said. “It could have been a faulty boat, it could have been human error and that the investigation will determine.”

A man standing outside against a winter landscape looks into the distance.
Kevin Sturge Lazore, captain of the Akwasasne Fire Department’s Station 3, sent 15 volunteer firefighters to search the river on Thursday. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

Kevin Sturge Lazore, captain of the Akwesasne Fire Department’s Station 3, sent 15 volunteer firefighters to search the river on Thursday after Oakes’s family reported him missing. Another dozen or so volunteers from other stations in the community joined the effort.

The firefighters recovered the boat, its hull dented on the bottom as if it had hit ice or a rock, Lazore said.

Akwesasne police report 80 illegal crossings this year


Akwesasne Mohawk police Chief Shawn Dulude says they have intercepted 80 attempted illegal crossings into the U.S. through their territory since January.

He and O’Brien said the boat was small, and wouldn’t have been able to safely carry seven or eight people.

“What that boat could handle and the amount of people in it, it doesn’t make a pretty picture,” Lazore said, standing by the fire department dock on the water.

Friday morning, the water was calm and mirror-like. “It can change in the blink of an eye,” Lazore said, noting waves were more than a metre high Wednesday night.

“The river is always the major concern…. Our elders tell us, always be careful, especially in the spring, with the runoff, the current is stronger and the water is freezing.”

Other attempted crossings

The volunteer firefighters were only searching for one person when they discovered the first six bodies.

“It’s hitting them now,” Lazore said, adding they had begun a debrief Thursday evening to process what they had seen, but were interrupted by a call for a structure fire.

Photo of bearded man with hat and sweater in front of a yellow background.
Casey Oakes, 30, was last seen boarding a small, light blue vessel, leaving Cornwall Island, according to police. (Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service)

Thursday wasn’t the first time Lazore’s team has been called on to search for missing people who have tried to cross the border.

He said they rescue people attempting to enter the U.S. or Canada over the river and its tributaries about three or four times a year.

“It gets hard. It wears the guys down.”

Almost exactly a year ago, they rescued a group of six Indian nationals who had just made it into the United States on the river when the boat they were in hit a shallow bank and got stuck.

They were able to stand up in the boat and were rescued by the volunteers and Akwesasne Police Department — which received $6.5 million from the Quebec government last year to help it deal with the increased flow of human smuggling in the area.

“They were lucky. It could have been a lot worse,” Lazore said.

Police search for adult, child still missing near Akwesasne

Police continued the search for two people missing on Friday after the bodies of six people were recovered from the St. Lawrence River near Akwesasne, on the Ontario, Quebec and New York borders.

The fire station is next to a recreation centre where community members gathered Friday afternoon. They sit across a road from the Tsi’Snaihne River.

A police helicopter circled above.

Next to the fire station, a group of men lit a sacred fire early that morning and kept it going throughout the day. Lazore said the fire was to honour the families and Oakes.

Smuggling on the rise

O’Brien, the deputy police chief, said the community has seen an uptick in human smuggling into the U.S. There have been 48 incidents so far this year, she said.

But the recent deaths had nothing to do with the closure of the Roxham Road illegal border crossing, she added.

“That closure was people seeking refuge, leaving the U.S. to Canada. These people were believed to be gaining entry into the U.S. It’s completely the opposite.”

Most of those who try to enter the U.S. through the area are Indian and Romanian families, she said, but she said she “had no idea” why that was the case.

Ryan Brissette, a public affairs officer with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, says the agency had seen a “massive uptick in encounters and apprehensions” at the border.

The agency saw more than eight times as many people try to cross from Canada into the U.S. in 2022 compared to previous years, he said. Many of them — more than 64,000 — came through Quebec or Ontario into New York.

“Comparing this area in the past, this is a significant number,” Brissette said.

“There’s a lot of different reasons as to why this is happening, why folks are coming all of a sudden through the northern border. I think a lot of them think it’s easier, an easy opportunity and they just don’t know the danger that it poses, especially in the winter months.”



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Canada’s carbon pricing is going up again. What it means for your wallet



Canadians in some provinces and territories will soon be paying a little bit more at the gas station as a federal carbon price is set to go up starting Saturday.

The fuel charge is rising by 30 per cent from $50 per tonne of emissions to $65 on April 1. This will translate to an increase of roughly three cents per litre for gas, reaching a total of 14 cents per litre.

The scheduled increase will apply in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon and Nunavut.


Meanwhile, the carbon price jump will go into effect in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island on July 1.

Canada began pricing carbon pollution in 2019.

The move is part of Ottawa’s commitment to tackle climate change with a goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

While Canadians will see an increase at the pumps, the carbon price increase is not expected to have a huge impact on their gas expenses, said Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, a senior researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“It’s an incremental increase, but it’s not actually going to be a huge change year-over-year that people will notice ,” he told Global News.

For individuals, it could mean a $1 jump per tank depending on how big the vehicle is, Mertins-Kirkwood estimated. For businesses too, it’s “not a major expense,” he said.

Mertins-Kirkwood said things like oil market fluctuations and gas taxes have a much bigger impact on energy costs.

“Those swings are way bigger than the carbon price.”


What else is changing?

The carbon price increase comes amid some temporary relief for Canadians with lower gas prices reported in February after record-high costs last year. Gas prices in Canada surpassed $2 per litre for the first time ever last year.

On a monthly basis, Canadian drivers paid one per cent less for gas in February, Statistics Canada said in its latest report released on March 21. Overall, gas prices dropped by 4.7 per cent in February – which was the first yearly decline since Jan 2021, StatCan reported.

The agency said the year-over-year decline is partially attributed to the significant jump in prices seen in February 2022 amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Canadian national average for gas prices stood at 150.8 cents per litre on Friday morning, according to GasBuddy. The CAA’s estimate for Friday was 149 cents per litre.

The carbon tax will not only raise gas prices, but could make its way into Canadian pocketbooks in other ways too.

For instance, aviation gasoline in the four provinces is also going up by roughly 3.5 cents a litre to a total of almost 16 cents per litre, which could potentially mean higher airfares down the line.

However, the rates for aviation gasoline and aviation turbo fuel will remain unchanged in the territories due to the “high reliance” on air transportation, the federal government says.

Light fuel oil, which is used in household equipment, is increasing to 17 cents per litre – an increment of nearly four cents.

Carbon pricing can have also ripple effects on food prices, other grocery items and shipped goods experts say, as Canada’s truck-based transportation industry will be spending more money to fill up the tank.

“It’s possible it could have an impact on things like shipping, but it’s a relatively minor impact,” said Mertins-Kirkwood.


Will rebates make a difference?

Ottawa has claimed that eight out of 10 Canadian families will get more money back than they pay under the federal carbon pricing plan because of the Climate Action Incentive.

Canadians can claim CAI payments by filing annual federal taxes.

Mertins-Kirkwood said most households, except those earning a high income, are “better off” from the carbon pricing due to the government rebate which recycles revenue back to families.

However, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), an independent watchdog, said in a report last year that a bulk of Canadian households over the long term will see a “net loss” from the federal carbon pricing by 2030-31.

The PBO said that Albertans in the top income quintile would pay the largest net cost from the carbon tax, while the lowest-income quintile households in Saskatchewan stand to see the largest net gain via the rebate.

— With files from Global News’ Craig Lord



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