COC Interim President Tricia Smith’s Script for the October 6 Media Call
Tuesday, October 6, 2015 — TORONTO
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Bonjour tout le monde – Merci de participer à cet appel conférence, concernent ce dossier très important pour le mouvement olympique canadien.
As you know, 12 days ago, a COC employee filed an official complaint against our former president.
I wanted to speak to all of you today to provide an update on what has taken place and the actions we are taking now.
It took extraordinary courage to speak up and it has been a very difficult time for our employee, and for everyone in our Olympic family. On behalf of the COC I want to say ‘thank you’ publicly as I have already done privately.
We have offered our employee all the support and resources available to us to assist in the healing process and we look forward to that person rejoining us as soon as possible. I also want to take this moment to apologize to anyone who may have been affected. These things should never have happened.
The Olympic values include integrity and respect. In all of my years they have been the values most important to me. We hold ourselves to a high standard at the COC, but when events like this occur, it becomes obvious that we can do better.
We owe it to our employees, to all who take part in sport and to all whom we seek to inspire.
These events have caused us to consider what we can do to ensure we have an environment that is consistent with the ideals of the COC and the Olympic movement.
We intend to deal with these issues head on, in an open, fair and transparent way.
Whatever the cause, whatever or whoever the reason, we all have to own this, look deep into ourselves and make changes.
How we have set up an independent review that will be conducted by outside experts?
Effective immediately, leading Canadian employment lawyer and human resource expert, Christine Thomlinson, of Rubin Thomlinson, has been tasked by myself and our board to initiate a complete and independent workplace review.
Ms. Thomlinson has extensive experience conducting reviews and assessments of this kind and will be given free access to fulfill her mandate. She will leave no stone unturned in doing so.
In terms of transparency, we are making those terms of reference public today.
Her job will be to review our existing policies and procedures, to assess them and provide recommendations for improvements as required.
One particular challenge will be how to ensure that any victim of harassment, sexual or otherwise, can feel comfortable coming forward with a complaint, if they feel mistreated and we expect Ms. Thomlinson to consider this in her review.
I strongly encourage anyone who has a complaint to speak to Ms. Thomlinson and her team.
They will be receiving and reviewing all the information provided to them on interactions with COC representatives and whether or not they were consistent with our policies on discrimination and harassment.
We want to make it as easy as possible for people to be heard.
Those who wish to do so can meet with the reviewers personally to be interviewed. Others may choose to submit information confidentially in electronic form. The contact details are on our website.
Ms. Thomlinson will also look into the circumstances surrounding the June 2011 letter to understand what happened, what steps were taken and why.
Once the work is completed, Ms. Thomlinson will report to the COC board with her findings and recommendations.
The board will make the conclusions and recommendations public. If the report raises other issues such as governance, we will deal with that when it happens.
On behalf of the COC, I want to thank our athletes and coaches, the national sport federations and our partners. I have received hundreds of emails of support.
Finally, I want to say a few words about our CEO. We want to thank Chris Overholt for his leadership, professionalism and integrity. We sincerely thank him for his work, as it is our shared values that are navigating us through the present situation.
The board’s priority is working with the CEO and independent experts to institute any changes necessary to ensure a safe environment for everyone in or affected by the Olympic family. We are personally committed to making our family safe.
I learned as an athlete that when you fail, you assess what went wrong, you identify ways to address what went wrong and you make changes so it doesn’t happen again.
Thank you very much for this opportunity to address these important issues and I would be more than pleased to take your questions.