Hockey Canada names former Supreme Court justice to lead governance review

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(Reuters) - Hockey Canada said on Thursday former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell would lead a governance review into the national governing body amid calls for a change in leadership and expects to hear recommendations by no later than November.

Hockey Canada has been under fire since news broke in May of an alleged group sexual assault in London, Ontario, involving eight members of the country's 2018 world junior team and subsequent out-of-court settlement.

"This comprehensive governance review is a critical step to restoring trust with Canadians and ensuring we have the right people and systems in place to deliver on our action plan to improve Canada's game," Michael Brind'Amour, Chair of the Hockey Canada Board of Directors, said in a news release.

"We have heard Canadians loud and clear and are committed to making the changes necessary to allow us to be the organization Canadians expect."

Hockey Canada said the review will begin immediately and is anticipated to provide interim recommendations in advance of the organization's annual general meeting in November.

Cromwell was a Supreme Court justice from December 2008 to September 2016 and in 2017 was recognized for his contribution to the legal community when he was appointed as a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest honour of the Order of Canada.

According to Hockey Canada, Cromwell was brought on to answer questions including whether the organization was right to use a fund that was financed by registration fees of players across the country to settle sexual assault claims.

In July, Hockey Canada said it would no longer use the fund to settle sexual assault claims and would begin a governance review of its organization that would be overseen by an independent third party.

Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith, appearing last week before a parliamentary hearing on the scandal, said he has no plans to resign amid the scandal but would step down if it was suggested by the board of directors.

The allegations against the unnamed players have not been proved in court but the Canadian federal government has frozen funding to the national governing body over its handling of the alleged sexual assault.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)