Interim board chair Andrea Skinner resigns amid Hockey Canada sex assault scandal

Andrea Skinner has resigned as a director and interim board chair of Hockey Canada, days after a controversial parliamentary committee meeting where she defended Hockey Canada's handling of group sexual assault allegations involving past junior players.

Skinner defended organization amid intense public scrutiny over case

Hockey Canada board chair resigns after controversial testimony

12 months ago
Duration 2:21
Interim Hockey Canada board chair Andrea Skinner handed in her resignation days after a heated parliamentary committee meeting where she defended the organization’s handling of sexual assault allegations involving past junior players. Some in the hockey community hope it's the start of real change.

Andrea Skinner has resigned as a director and interim board chair of Hockey Canada, days after a controversial parliamentary committee meeting where she defended Hockey Canada's handling of group sexual assault allegations involving past junior players. 

In a statement posted Saturday night on Hockey Canada's website, Skinner wrote it was time for her to leave her post.

"Upon reflection, it is clear to me from recent events that it no longer makes sense for me to continue to volunteer my time as Interim Chair or as a Director of the organization," Skinner said.

On Tuesday, Skinner appeared before the House of Commons heritage committee and said toxic behaviour is a society-wide issue and that it's "counterproductive" to use Hockey Canada as a "scapegoat."

She described Hockey Canada as the victim to MPs and said her board doesn't believe senior leadership "should be replaced on the basis of what we consider to be substantial misinformation and unduly cynical attacks."

Skinner also testified that she wanted to be a "positive voice for hockey and for change" when she took on the interim role in August, but didn't expect to be a "lightning rod for extremists or receive threatening or hostile emails."

MPs of all parties condemned any extremist comments. But some said other parts of Skinner's testimony came across as tone-deaf and continued to call for Hockey Canada's executives and board members to resign. 

Major sponsors — including Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire and Nike — responded by cutting ties with Hockey Canada permanently or by withdrawing funding for men's hockey this season. 

Radio-Canada first reported on Skinner's resignation Saturday evening, and Hockey Canada confirmed Skinner's departure about an hour later in a statement.

"As a Board, we wish Andrea well and would like to thank her for her service to Hockey Canada," the statement read. "We will continue to meet over the weekend to discuss other changes and reforms to the organization." 

On Sunday, NDP MP Peter Julian, who sits on the heritage committee, said he would make a renewed push to bring the organization's CEO, Scott Smith, back to testify once more.

The hockey organization has been under intense public scrutiny since May, when it settled a $3.5-million lawsuit by a woman who alleged that eight hockey players — including members of the 2018 world junior team — sexually assaulted her at a hotel in London, Ont., while she was heavily intoxicated. 

Hockey parents were outraged to later learn that a fund made up in part with players' registration fees was used to pay for that settlement.

Hockey Canada's executives later confirmed the organization has paid out nearly $9 million in settlements since 1989 to 21 people alleging sexual abuse. The bulk of the money went to compensation for complainants in the case of Graham James, a former junior ice hockey coach who was accused of sexually abusing players on his teams.

Skinner has served on Hockey Canada's board of directors since November 2020 and assumed the role of interim chair in August after Michael Brind'Amour resigned. Skinner, who is a Toronto lawyer, was also a member of Hockey Canada's risk management committee, audit and finance committee, and was chair of the human resources committee. 

Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge told CBC's Power and Politics Wednesday she was saddened "it's a woman right now wearing the face of the problem of Hockey Canada." St-Onge said "she only came in 2020 so a lot of what happened she's not responsible" for and felt Skinner was "a scapegoat."

WATCH | Andrea Skinner questioned by MPs: 

Hockey Canada official grilled over payouts to alleged abuse victims

12 months ago
Duration 2:49
Hockey Canada's interim board chair defended the organization’s leadership when faced with pointed questions from MPs about multimillion-dollar payouts to settle sexual abuse claims. Her comments have prompted new calls for Hockey Canada officials to resign.

Elections for board of directors postponed a month

Skinner's resignation also comes after provincial hockey federations received the preliminary report from retired Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell that Hockey Canada commissioned with a mandate to look into its governance structure.

Hockey Saskatchewan confirmed to CBC News on Friday that the federations would be reviewing that report "shortly as a national group." The recommendations included changes to the annual general meeting and election to vote on who makes up Hockey Canada's board of directors, the hockey federation confirmed.

CBC News also reported Friday that the next election for the members of Hockey Canada's board of directors is being delayed a month to Dec. 17 so that Cromwell's report can be released first and potentially recommendations put in place.

A CBC News Fifth Estate investigation last week found that police have investigated at least 15 cases of alleged group sexual assault involving junior hockey players since 1989 — and half of those cases surfaced in the past decade.

WATCH | Fifth Estate investigates sex assault allegations: 

Anatomy of a Scandal

12 months ago
Duration 44:24
Hockey Canada is on the defensive over allegations that some members of its gold-medal winning World Junior team in 2018 took part in a group sexual assault, and the organization didn’t do enough to hold players accountable. The Fifth Estate examines the national shame inside Canada’s game, and the disturbing history that suggests this was not an isolated incident.

In total, at least 50 players have been accused in the alleged crimes, with 25 eventually charged, The Fifth Estate found. Only one of those charged has been convicted, after pleading guilty to a lesser offence.

Have a story or news tip about the Hockey Canada scandal? Confidentially email


Ashley Burke

Senior reporter

Ashley Burke is a senior reporter with the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa who focuses on enterprise journalism for television, radio and digital platforms. She was recognized with the Charles Lynch Award and was a finalist for the Michener Award for her exclusive reporting on the toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. She has also uncovered rampant allegations of sexual misconduct in the Canadian military involving senior leaders. You can reach her confidentially by email: or

With files from CBC News and The Fifth Estate