PtG Article 30.11.2015

Furlong accusers issue call to be heard

An open letter to Canada’s Prime Minister calls for former head of the 2010 Vancouver Games to step down from his official sports post pending hearings into allegations of abuse.

A group of indigenous Canadians has sent an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau saying that they should have been heard before a ruling in favour of John Furlong, former CEO of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games (VANOC) was given in a British Columbia Supreme Court in September this year.

The letter calls for the government to ask Furlong to step down from his post as chairman of Own the Podium, a non-profit government-funded sports organisation promoting Canadian elite athletes, and asks the government to hear their side of the story in a controversial legal battle between the VANOC chief and freelance journalist Laura Robinson.

In November 2012, Furlong filed a defamation suit against Robinson over an article including allegations that Furlong had abused students while teaching at a Catholic school in the late 1960s. Furlong has denied any wrongdoing, but discontinued his suit in March 2015.

Meanwhile, Robinson filed a defamation suit over comments that Furlong had made about her in the wake of the publication of the article. In September, Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge found that Furlong’s defense of ‘qualified privilege’ answered to Robinson’s claim. According to the signatories of the open letter, their stories should have been heard before the court ruling was made.

“No-one had time to listen to us. They should have talked to us before any decision was made,” says the letter, which is signed by three hereditary chiefs and five more.

Five of the eight signatories of the open letter also signed sworn affidavits about being abused by Furlong, affidavits that formed the basis of Laura Robinson’s article, published in 2012.

In the court decision Judge Wedge argues that Robinson’s way of collecting testimonies could have influenced the memories of the ones who testified. This is contested in the letter:

“The judge said Laura [Robinson] “contaminated” our memories. But she didn’t. We all have bad memories of Mr. Furlong, but over the years we haven’t talked much about them,” says the letter that is published in full on Canadian news site National Observer.

The call for Furlong to step down comes just days after he made his first public speech in three years saying that he had left the court case behind him.

“I’ve said what I had to say about that case, the judge has made a decision and I don’t think there’s anything left to say about that,” Furlong said, according to Business Vancouver.

More information


Article from the National Observer including the Open letter in full:

Article from the blog Canadaland including the eight sworn affidavits:

More from Play the Game about the Robinson vs. Furlong case: