Retired Ontario Judge and Olympian Hugh Fraser named to Hockey Canada board

By Lincoln DePradine

Hugh L Fraser

Jamaican-born Hugh L. Fraser, a former Canadian Olympic sprinter and retired Ontario judge, has been asked to take a lead role in fixing embattled Hockey Canada, which has had its access to public funds frozen, and sponsors such as Nike, Tim Hortons and Scotiabank have ended or suspended commercial relationships with the national sports body.

The situation is a fallout following revelations of Hockey Canada problems, including a $3.55 million settlement with a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by members of Canada’s junior national team in 2018.

Other claims of sexual misconduct have surfaced and law enforcement officers are looking into an alleged group assault committed by members of Canada’s 2003 junior national team.

The entire board of directors quit in October after months of pressure, and Hockey Canada’s president Scott Smith also resigned.

 It’s against this background that Fraser, an international expert in sports law who has served as president of both the Sports Federation of Canada and the Commonwealth Games Foundation of Canada, and eight others, have been named to a new board of directors to oversee Hockey Canada.

They were selected, by an independent nominating committee, from among 550 candidates.

 “The nominees we’ve put forward represent the very best of Canadian society; bringing together the knowledge and experience necessary to create a new era in hockey that focuses on governance and cultural evolution,” said Michael Bruni, chair of the nominating committee.

Hugh L Fraser

The nine nominees – five men and four women – will serve a one-year term with a mandate “to lead Hockey Canada through the urgent changes necessary to ensuring greater safety and inclusiveness in and around hockey, and restore trust in the organization”.

Fraser, who ran for Canada at the Montreal 1976 Olympics and the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico, is father of former National Hockey League player Mark Fraser. The younger Fraser appeared in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils.

Ex-judge Fraser is the only recommendation for the position of Hockey Canada board chair.

Fraser, who was a judge in Ontario’s courts for three decades and has a background as an arbitrator for various sporting bodies, also served on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and on the board of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport.

A vote by Hockey Canada will be held Saturday, December 17, to formalize the board nominees, including Fraser as chairman.

Fraser, appointed in 2021 as an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contribution to Canadian sport, has been an arbitrator on the Court of Arbitration for Sport since 1995.

He will combine his task with Hockey Canada with other responsibilities such as serving as a Commissioner with Athletics Canada; an independent Arbitrator with the United States Olympics and Paralympic Committee (USOPC); and a member of the USOPC Athletes’ Advisory Council and the United States Anti-Doping Agency.