The Canadian Olympic Committee said Tuesday it will examine its workplace policies and practices after its former president resigned in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment.
“We are sorry for what has happened,” said Tricia Smith, who took over as COC’s interim president after Marcel Aubut’s resignation on Saturday. “Whatever the cause, whatever the reason, we will have to own this.
“We will have to look deeper into ourselves and make changes. Harrassment, sexual or otherwise, cannot be tolerated in any environment.”
Smith said the committee has hired Toronto-based employment lawyer Christine Thomlinson to review existing policies and make recommendations for improvement.
Aubut, 67, stepped down as president after three women complained he’d sexually harassed them; the first withdrew her complaint after Aubut resigned. Smith said there are no other complaints logged at this time.
A number of women have spoken anonymously to numerous media outlets in recent days about Aubut’s alleged penchant for unwanted physical contact, kisses and sexual references. The allegations against Aubut are unproven.
Smith also said the independent review would look at a June 2011 letter where the COC instructed Aubut to change his behaviour. She said Thomlinson will aim to “understand what happened, what steps were taken and why.”
Smith said the organization’s board was unaware of the letter and “any specific interactions which could be construed as harassment.”
An election will be held in November to determine its new president. The person elected will finish out Aubut’s term, which stretches to spring 2017.