Legault giving Quebec Major Junior Hockey League commissioner another chance
Published Friday, March 3, 2023 12:19PM EST Last Updated Friday, March 3, 2023 2:01PM EST
Premier François Legault is questioning his confidence in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) commissioner Gilles Courteau, without calling for his resignation as the opposition is doing.
Asked at a press conference if he still had confidence in Courteau, the premier instead suggested Friday that he had a "concern."
The QMJHL boss is currently in the midst of a storm over allegations of sexual misconduct in his league. The opposition is accusing him of perjuring himself in parliamentary committee last week on this issue and is calling for him to step down.
Legault seemed to be getting impatient, but he also appeared to want to give the commissioner, who has been with the league 37 years and is due to complete his term in 2024, another chance.
"It's worrying, the contradictory statements of Mr. Courteau," said Legault on the sidelines of an announcement in Notre-Dame-du-Portage, Que., Friday morning, regarding adaptation to climate change.
He asked him in barely concealed words to recognize the problem of alleged violent hazing and sexual abuse in his league and to fix it.
"We're going to have to make sure that Mr. Courteau sees that there is a problem, among other things in the case of initiations, and takes strong action to stop these ways," Legault said.
He suggested that he would prefer to hear from him first in a parliamentary committee hearing, rather than call for his resignation like the Liberal Party and Québec Solidaire have demanded.
Still, the premier pointed out another disagreement with the league's boss. He recalled that his minister responsible for sport, Isabelle Charest, had to confront Courteau in his crusade to stop hockey fights.
On Thursday, Charest had expressed the wish that the parliamentary committee that had heard Courteau last week to convene again. However, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) refused to extend the committee's mandate last week.
Courteau was accused of having perjured himself on the same issue in the parliamentary committee last week. He said at the time that no cases reported in his league were similar to those described in an Ontario court ruling.
However, Stephen Quirk, the only QMJHL player involved in the class-action suit filed before Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perrel, has reported degrading and offensive treatment.
In a press scrum, Courteau indicated that there was no sexual connotation in Stephen Quirk's testimony. On the contrary, the player said that he was sexually abused.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Feb. 3, 2023.