The revelations of violence did not affect the QMJHL, assures Courteau

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 The revelations of violence did not affect the QMJHL, assures Courteau

Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press The commissioner of the QMJHL, Gilles Courteau, testifying in parliamentary committee Wednesday

The locker room of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (LHJMQ) were not the scene of the violent initiations into hockey recently revealed to the public, assures commissioner Gilles Courteau. These hospitality activities are “forbidden” anyway, he told the parliamentary committee.

Mr. Courteau answered questions on Wednesday from deputies of the National Assembly as part of a parliamentary committee on violence during initiations into the world of junior hockey. The QMJHL has been involved in a media whirlwind since the publication at the beginning of the month of a judgment by the Superior Court of Ontario reporting degrading gestures in the locker rooms of the three Canadian junior hockey leagues, followed by an article by Radio -Canada telling the stories of four players.

“We did checks. None of the situations listed in the article involved a QMJHL team. This is an important fact to note,” said commissioner Courteau.

According to the QMJHL kingpin, there is indeed a “culture that can be harmful” in the locker room of the QMJHL. “There is a moment when the locker room door closes. […] It is this culture that must be changed,” he said, “troubled,” before the elected officials of the Committee on Culture and Education (CCE).

Mr. Courteau, however, recalled on Wednesday that initiations are prohibited in the 18 teams on the circuit. “When we are made aware of something, we intervene,” he said. “If we get wind before a situation happens, [we can call it off]. »

“Dressing room code”

In the spirit of “reflection”, the QMJHL will conduct consultations over the coming months, and will table a “Locker Room Code” in time for the 2023-2024 season. Violating it could lead to expulsions, Courtteau said. “We are not above other leagues.

An action plan and a prevention program will also be put in place soon, and Mr. Courteau intends to meet the players “as soon as possible”.

Accelerated at the exit of the commission, Wednesday, the deputy of Quebec solidaire Vincent Marissal agreed to have been “left on [his] hunger” by the passage of the LHJMQ before the CEC. He also asked for an extension of the commission “to ensure that, collectively, we are not only touching the tip of the glacier in the file of violence during initiations in the middle of junior hockey and the possible situation in other sports”.

“What struck me a lot is that there is no independence in the investigative processes. […] We ask a 16-17 year old to pick up the phone and call a [vice-president] of the league to complain about behavior that is probably inappropriate and sometimes even illegal,” lamented the elected official. Solidarity, which had initially requested the establishment of this commission. ” This is not serious. “

Present alongside Commissioner Courteau on Wednesday, the director of player services for the QMJHL, Natacha Llorens, agreed that in the complaints process, it is she who “takes the 'call “. “To my knowledge, no complaint has been raised with the league for cases of inappropriate initiations,” said Commissioner Courteau, however.

After the passage of the QMJHL in commission, the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), which includes the three Canadian junior leagues, confirmed having received twelve complaints in five years in connection with initiations having turned sour. Ten of these were admissible.

“The events described [in the judgment] happened decades ago, and there have been many improvements in the last twenty years. We are not saying that these problems no longer exist, but the procedures we have put in place are very different from what existed at the time, “said CHL President Dan MacKenzie on Wednesday.

Like Mr. Courteau before, Mr. MacKenzie maintained that the league has never reached out-of-court settlements in cases of degrading initiations. Last year, Hockey Canada was embroiled in a massive scandal after it was revealed that the federation was managing reserve funds intended to settle sexual assault cases involving its players.