National association’s last board resigned over sex assault and payout allegations
For someone who has spent a considerable amount of his life slumped over a computer keyboard dealing with words while honing his communication skills, Jonathan Goldbloom is no stranger to the very physical world of ice hockey.
Goldbloom, one of two Quebecers appointed in December to the new board of Hockey Canada following the national sports organization’s implosion last year, is self-deprecating as he describes his initiation into the sport while attending Montreal’s private Selwyn House School during his teenage years.
A hockey player and fan
“Not well, but yes,” he says, referring to his relative lack of skill on the ice, although he later also played on the Harvard University freshman team while completing undergraduate studies in the U.S.
To this day, Goldbloom continues to be active as an amateur in the sport of hockey, playing within a league of Montreal-area business executives who face off regularly in matches at the Westmount municipal arena.
He refers to ice hockey as “a passion of mine,” although he acknowledges he’s not as sharp on his skates as he used to be. “As I was saying to someone the other day, I know what to do, I just can’t do it anymore. I play my wing, but I’m just not as agile or as fast as I once was. But I still love the game.”
Hockey Canada meltdown
Last October, Hockey Canada’s previous board resigned amid blistering criticism, including reactions from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), related to the scandal-plagued organization’s handling of sexual assault allegations and secretive payouts to victims using funds from player registration fees.
As a result, Hockey Canada saw its federal and corporate funding drastically cut back, as Canada’s parliamentarians launched an investigation, while the organization’s last CEO, Scott Smith, was left with little choice but to resign. In addition, Henein Hutchison, a Toronto-based law firm known for its criminal defence work, has also completed a report on the allegations.
The Goldbloom dynasty
When announcing the appointment of the incoming nine-member board led by a new chairman, retired Ontario Court of Justice judge Hugh L. Fraser, Hockey Canada described the new directors as “custodians of the game who want nothing more than for this game to prosper.”
Descended from a family that included his father, Victor, who served in the Quebec Liberal cabinet from the early to mid-1970s, as well as his brother, Michael, former publisher of the Montreal Gazette and the Toronto Star, Jonathan Goldbloom made his name as a public relations specialist in Montreal, and as a member of the board of some distinctly Canadian institutions, including Via Rail and the Stratford Festival.
‘I wouldn’t be on the board if I didn’t think there was a crisis’
‘Disturbed’ by handling
Asked whether he was shocked by the revelations, Goldbloom said, “Disturbed would probably be a more accurate word. It’s not as if these revelations were not out there for some time. Disturbed in the sense of how they were investigated and how they were handled.
“I think that the issues of mistreatment and abuse are something, you know, that have become more in the forefront of society across all different sectors. So, it’s hard to say shocked. Disappointed, disturbed and a feeling that these need to be addressed.”
Regarding his role on the board, Goldbloom said, “I wouldn’t be on the board if I didn’t think there was a crisis and that it needed to be addressed. Yes, there was a lack of transparency. Yes, there should have been a proper investigation from day one and it should have been followed through with whatever ramifications there are.
‘It’s complicated,’ he says
“To the credit of Hockey Canada, the investigation by a Toronto law firm is completed and it’s now before a panel and we’re waiting for the panel’s recommendations on how to move forward,” he continued.
“It’s complicated because there’s also a police investigation at the same time. So, it’s finding the balance of all of that.” In addition to sitting on the Hockey Canada board, Goldbloom is chairing the search committee which is working to recruit the association’s next CEO.
In this regard, he said he’s been choosing representatives from all the different stakeholders at Hockey Canada, including former athletes and representatives of hockey associations from across the country. “It’s one of the ways of building the stakeholder unity that we’re looking for,” said Goldbloom.