Nova Scotia

Halifax confirms support for World Juniors following Hockey Canada resignations

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said the way Hockey Canada has handled sexual assault allegations is “wrong,” but following news that the board will resign, he feels optimistic about hosting the World Juniors tournament in December.

National organization announced resignation of its entire board Tuesday

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said Tuesday he's optimistic about the World Juniors going forward in December. (Robert Short/ CBC)

Halifax Regional Council has confirmed its support for the IIHF World Junior Championship in Halifax and Moncton, following news that Hockey Canada's board will resign.

Speaking during a special council meeting Tuesday evening, Mayor Mike Savage said the way Hockey Canada has handled allegations of sexual assault by players is "wrong," but given the pending resignations, he feels optimistic about hosting the World Juniors in December.

"We're gonna go ahead and … put this tournament on and we're gonna do a hell of a job of it, as we always do," said Savage. 

Hockey Canada announced Tuesday morning that CEO Scott Smith and the entire board of directors would step down.

The national ice hockey body has come under intense scrutiny in the last few weeks over its handling of sexual assault allegations. One incident alleges a group sexual assault occurred in Halifax in 2003, involving members of that year's Canadian world junior team.

Composite illustration featuring Hockey Canada board members. From top left to right: CEO Scott Smith, Terry Engen, Kirk Lamb and John Neville. From bottom left to right: Barry Reynard, Bobby Sahni, Mary Anne Veroba and Goops Wooldridge. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press,

Savage said neither Halifax nor the players in this year's tournament should be penalized for what allegedly happened years ago. 

"That's a long time ago now and it wouldn't be fair to hold that against kids who are playing hockey today, and it wasn't the citizens of Halifax who did anything wrong at that point in time," Savage told CBC News after the meeting.

Coun. Shawn Cleary said the resignations at Hockey Canada needed to happen, and he's glad he can now fully support the tournament.

"I think the indication was that we are now where we wanted to be in terms of Hockey Canada taking responsibility, accountability," said Cleary.

Some councillors raised concerns that sweeping leadership change at the national organization won't be enough. Coun. Lisa Blackburn said Hockey Canada needs "complete systemic change."

"Through their actions, they've taught these boys, who are now men, that it's OK to use women any way they want and they'll be supported," said Blackburn.

"They've taught these boys … that it's OK to cover up that wrongdoing and bury it from scrutiny."

Blackburn said she'd like to see the municipality take any possible action to ensure safety during the tournament and events in the future.

City staff responded that they are in ongoing funding negotiations with Hockey Canada, and will be qualifying their funding with commitments like a code of conduct. Those negotiations will be finalized in the coming weeks.

Reactions to resignations

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters Tuesday that he and Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston agree that this move from Hockey Canada is "a step in the right direction."

"But what does it mean? A change of guard, but what does that mean in terms of process and procedures, and what are they going to implement differently?" said Higgs.

Houston said in a statement Tuesday that he's "pleased" to see the changes at Hockey Canada and hopes it will be the beginning of meaningful change.

Amy Walsh, executive director of Hockey Nova Scotia, said in a statement that the organization supports the leadership changes announced at Hockey Canada, but said that they will need to regain the public's "trust and confidence."

"We acknowledge there are serious issues in the game and much work must be done to improve the culture of hockey," said Walsh.


Victoria Welland is a reporter with CBC Nova Scotia. You can reach her at

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