Warning: This story contains sexually graphic details that may be disturbing to readers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Hockey Canada’s leadership has lost the confidence of the federal government — and Canadians.
Trudeau made the comments to reporters Wednesday. They came after Hockey Canada’s board of directors released a statement earlier this week saying it supported president and chief executive officer Scott Smith and his executive team despite calls for change of the organization’s leadership.
Hockey Canada has come under criticism for its handling of sexual assault allegations involving players with the 2003 and 2018 world junior teams.
“It’s fairly clear that both the government and Canadians in general have lost confidence in the leadership at Hockey Canada,” Trudeau said. “And the longer it takes for Hockey Canada to realize that, the more difficulties they’re going to face.”
Interim board chair Andrea Skinner announced the backing of the organization’s executive in a statement posted Monday on its website.
The statement did not detail a reason for the show of support, but said the board is is undertaking “ongoing efforts to restore the trust of Canadians in hockey and Hockey Canada,” which include a governance review.
WATCH | Disturbing details emerge:
It’s the second time Trudeau has called out Hockey Canada for its response to the allegations.
Speaking in Nova Scotia on July 21, Trudeau said there needs to be a “real reckoning” at Hockey Canada for its handling of the 2018 allegation and subsequent out-of-court settlement with the complainant.
The federal government froze Hockey Canada’s funding after it was revealed the organization had quietly settled a lawsuit with a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by members of the 2018 men’s junior team at Hockey Canada gala in London, Ont., that year.
Several of Hockey Canada’s corporate partners suspended their support of Hockey Canada after executives were grilled by MPs during a Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage meeting about the organization’s response to the alleged assault. The results were evident at the world junior championship earlier this month in Edmonton, where the ice and boards at Rogers Place were almost completely free of advertising.
Hockey Canada later said members of the 2003 junior team are under investigation for alleged sexual assault in Nova Scotia.