TORONTO â€” Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith helped calm the waters after the tumultuous departure of Marcel Aubut in late 2015. Armed with a new four-year mandate, Smith now has the opportunity to really make her mark on the organization.
Smith, who ran unopposed, had her re-election confirmed Saturday at the COC Session meeting of national sport leaders, athletes and coaches.
“The community has been incredibly supportive even over the last 18 months,” Smith said. “To look around the room, pretty well everyone stepped up to make the tremendous progress we’ve made in that period of time.”
A four-time Olympic rower, Smith won silver at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. She has served the COC in various capacities for over 35 years, including a six-year run as vice-president before succeeding Aubut.
The COC, which bills itself as the backbone of Canada’s Olympic movement, works with national sports federations to prepare the Canadian team for competition. Smith said she plans to continue investing in athletes, coaching, and the development of national sport federations to affect positive change.
“We probably have the best relationships we’ve ever had with our athletes, with Own the Podium, with Sport Canada, with governments, with our sponsors,” she said. “I think with that comes responsibility.
“I think we’re at a point where the pieces are really coming together.”
Smith, 60, became interim COC president in October 2015 after Aubut’s resignation. The interim tag was removed a month later.
Aubut stepped down after women accused him of sexual comments and unwanted touching. The 69-year-old lawyer has not faced any criminal charges.
The COC agreed to make organizational changes after a third-party review, and two executives and a manager were fired.
The Thomlinson Report made eight recommendations for the COC, including strengthening and implementing new policies and procedures on ethics, discrimination, harassment and whistleblowing.
Other changes included mandatory training on harassment and bullying for all board members, staff and members of Olympic mission teams. The COC agreed to act on all of the recommendations.
“I think there is a lot of trust in the sport system now that’s been developed over the last 18 months,” Smith said.
Canada won 22 medals (four gold, three silver, 15 bronze) at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. The 2018 Winter Olympics are set for Feb. 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Smith, who’s based in Vancouver, also said she plans to challenge sport leaders to engage more with their international bodies to tackle issues like doping and the integrity of sport. In addition, she’s planning to lead a Canadian movement toward an athlete-centred national strategy for sport.
“Our teams have been owning the podium in the last few years and that’s been our focus,” she said. “I want to own the podium at the Canadian Olympic Committee and that means owning it for our membership, for our athletes, and for our community.”
The Session also elected seven members to the COC board of directors on Saturday. Therese Brisson, Chris Clark, Kevin Gilmore and Peter Lawless were re-elected while Maureen Kempston-Darkes, Karen Rubin and Mark Tewksbury were elected for a first term.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press