Companies pause Hockey Canada sponsorships amid sexual assault scandal

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP / Getty

Three corporations took action Tuesday in response to the ongoing scandal involving Hockey Canada's settlement of a sexual assault lawsuit.

Scotiabank is pausing its sponsorship of the federation, the bank's CEO Brian Porter announced.

"I was appalled by the recent reports of alleged assault involving younger ambassadors of Canada's game," Porter wrote in an open letter in the Globe & Mail. "The alleged behavior in this current case is contrary to the beliefs and values that hockey is meant to embody and those that we champion at Scotiabank."

Porter added: "The time for change is long overdue. We call on Hockey Canada to move with a sense of urgency in order to ensure that the game we love is held to the highest standards and can truly be hockey for all."

Hockey Canada responded to the news with a statement of its own:

"Hockey Canada values our relationship with Scotiabank, and we both respect and understand their decision regarding their sponsorship. As we said to the Members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage last week, Hockey Canada is on a journey to change the culture of our sport and to make it safer and more inclusive, both at the rink and in our communities."

Later on Tuesday, Canadian Tire followed Scotiabank's lead by "immediately withdrawing its sponsorship support for the upcoming world juniors" and "re-evaluating its relationship with Hockey Canada," according to a statement obtained by The Athletic's Katie Strang.

Shortly thereafter, Telus told The Canadian Press' Joshua Clipperton it is pausing its sponsorship agreement with Hockey Canada and the upcoming world juniors. The telecommunications company said it plans to redirect those funds toward Canadian organizations that support women affected by sexual violence.

Tim Hortons is also suspending its support for the world juniors.

"Hockey Canada has communicated that it is committed to changing the culture of hockey to make it safer and more inclusive for all, on and off the ice," Tim Horton's said in a statement. "We have expressed strongly that we believe Canadians are urgently seeking concrete details from Hockey Canada about how it intends to do so."

Imperial Oil followed suit on Wednesday and announced in a statement that it will no longer be supporting the world juniors under the Esso brand.

Meanwhile, Recipe Unlimited, the parent company that owns Swiss Chalet and The Keg, is also suspending partnership support for Hockey Canada, according to Strang.

"We will continue to be in contact with Hockey Canada to outline our expectations for change and to ensure the right steps are being taken to pave a safer and more inclusive future for hockey in Canada," Recipe Unlimited wrote in a statement.

In a lawsuit filed in April, a woman said eight CHL players - including some members of Canada's 2018 world junior team - sexually assaulted her following a Hockey Canada event in London, Ontario, in June 2018. The plaintiff asked the judge to award $3.55 million, but the suit was settled out of court for an unknown amount in May. The allegations weren't proven in court, and none of the defendants filed a response.

Hockey Canada executives testified before the House of Commons last week. The federal government announced it was freezing the organization's funding two days later.

Scotiabank canceled its scheduled marketing and events for the World Junior Championship in August. The company stated that sponsorship investments will be redirected in part to the Hockey Canada Assist Fund and the Women's World Championship, and it will also donate to the Canadian Women's Foundation.

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Companies pause Hockey Canada sponsorships amid sexual assault scandal
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