Hockey Canada members elect new board of directors

Hockey Canada has a new board of directors.

Now the real work begins.

The national sport organization’s members elected a slate of candidates to fill nine vacant board seats with a vote Saturday at its annual winter meeting.

Retired judge Hugh L. Fraser is Hockey Canada’s new chair, while former women’s national team captain Cassie Campbell-Pascall is also now on the board.

The federation’s 13 provincial and territorial bodies had the choice to accept or reject the nine names, which included five women and four men, put forward earlier this week by an independent nominating committee.

Hockey Canada’s previous board quit in October — the same day embattled president and CEO Scott Smith stepped aside — amid blistering criticism related to the scandal-plagued federation’s handling of sexual assault allegations and hushed payouts to victims.

Grant Borbridge, Julie Duranceau, Dave Evans, Marni Fullerton, Jonathan F. Goldbloom, Marian Jacko and Andrea Poole were also voted in as board members Saturday.

“We are determined to enact the changes Canadians expect,” Fraser said in a statement. “Hockey means so much to our country and we will be committed to making sure that Hockey Canada is an organization that is transparent and accountable to all Canadians, and is worthy of their trust.”

Among the board’s first orders of business will be to hire a new CEO and rebuild public faith in an organization battered and bruised since the spring when it was first revealed a woman alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight players — including members of the 2018 world junior team — following a Hockey Canada gala in London, Ont.

The fallout was swift.

Hockey Canada had its federal and corporate funding either cut off or redirected as more ugly stories surfaced before a string of disastrous heritage committee meetings on Parliament Hill that saw officials past and present grilled by MPs, ultimately leading to the board’s resignation and Smith’s departure.

With nearly three decades experience at the Ontario court of justice, Fraser has been on the Court of Arbitration for Sport since 1995 and served on the first ad hoc court at the 1996 Olympics.

Born in Jamaica and raised in Kingston, Ont., he also competed in the men’s 200-metre track and field event at the 1976 Olympics and is the father of former NHL defenceman Mark Fraser.

Liberal MP and heritage committee member Anthony Housefather said in a statement the new board represents “a diverse group of very qualified people.”

“They also have a tremendous challenge,” he added. “They need to define an appropriate governance model for themselves and future boards, clearly demonstrate a commitment to safe and inclusive hockey and communicate that to Canadians so that players, parents, sponsors and government feel confident in the organization.

“This requires transparency in explaining past actions and accountability for bad behaviour.”

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Campbell-Pascall, meanwhile, brings the most Hockey Canada experience to the table.

The three-time Olympian, who helped the women’s national team win gold at both the 2002 and 2006 Games, currently sits on the board of its foundation and was the first female hockey player inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

An Order of Canada recipient, Campbell-Pascall was also the first woman to provide colour commentary on “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcasts and is a regular on Sportsnet’s NHL telecasts.

Her husband, Brad Pascall, is an assistant general manager with the Calgary Flames and worked in senior management roles at Hockey Canada from 1995 through 2014, according to his LinkedIn page.

Borbridge, Jacko and Poole, meanwhile, have significant hockey administration experience.

A corporate lawyer from Calgary, Borbridge served on the board of the Girls Hockey Calgary Association and the Glenlake Minor Hockey Club.

Jacko, who is an Anishinaabe from Wiikwemkoong First Nation, is the assistant deputy attorney general for the Indigenous Justice Division of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. She is also president of the Little Native Hockey League.

Poole, who runs accounting firm Numeris CPA Professional Corporation, has sat as director of the Ottawa East Minor Hockey Association.

The other nominees come from outside the sport.

Duranceau is a lawyer and an accredited mediator in civil, commercial and family matters, Goldbloom is a communications specialist, Fullerton is an executive with experience as a senior adviser and CEO, and Evans has worked over two decades within the consulting, advisory and real estate industries.

Former Supreme Court judge Thomas Cromwell headed an independent review into Hockey Canada’s governance.

The 221-page document concluded the federation was at a “crossroads” and called for more oversight and accountability.

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Cromwell’s report provided a number of recommendations, including that moving forward no more than 60 per cent of Hockey Canada’s board members be of the same gender.

He also recommended the new board serve a special one-year term focused improving the organization’s governance as well as safety across the sport on and off the ice.

“To say that Hockey Canada has been through a tumultuous time is an understatement,” Conservative MP and heritage committee member Rachael Thomas said in a statement. “Players, parents, and fans deserve stability. It is my sincere hope this newly elected board will take seriously Justice Cromwell’s report and work hard to implement his recommendations.

“Hockey is extremely important to our nation’s culture and the newly minted members of the board have the responsibility to players, parents, and the Canadian people to guide the organization into a positive future.”

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