Prime Minister Justin Trudeau 'deeply disappointed' after Canadiens drafted Logan Mailloux
MONTREAL -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "deeply disappointed" with the Montreal Canadiens' decision to draft Logan Mailloux, who was charged and fined in Sweden for sharing explicit sexual photos without the consent of the woman in the pictures.
"As a lifelong Habs fan, I have to say, I am deeply disappointed by the decision," Trudeau told reporters in Moncton N.B.
Mailloux, 18, from Belle River, Ont. was on loan from Ontario Hockey League's London Knights when the incident occurred late last year.
"He's a young man who made a serious mistake of judgment and we need to work with him and we did talk to him and he's very aware of that and very remorseful," said Canadiens' GM Marc Bergervin said after drafting the defenceman with the 31st pick in the first round of the NHL Draft.
BRAND DAMAGE AND SPONSOR FLIGHT?
Some Montreal Canadiens sponsors have said they're reviewing their relationship with the team after the selection of Mailloux.
Desjardins Group, a major Canadiens sponsor, contacted the team on Monday to "obtain an explanation and to share our discomfort with this decision," Valerie Lamarre, a spokeswoman for the credit union federation, wrote in an email.
Pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group also said it is "reviewing the situation."
Concordia University marketing professor Robert Soroka said the decision damages the Canadiens' storied brand.
"Brand equity is fragile at best, can be tarnished easily, and that could evenetually cost the Canadiens money," said Soroka. "There's going to companies who will not want to associate with the Canadiens brand."
OFF-ICE CHARACTER MATTERS
Bergevin and the Canadiens' statements, as well as Mailloux's apology in a Zoom news conference the day after he was selected did little to curb the criticism from many, who saw the Habs as placing on-ice skill far above off-ice behaviour.
"This move is extremely frustrating and upsetting, especially from a team and general manager that have spent the past decade harping on the importance of character. It’s clear that off-ice character is trumped by on-ice performance," said TSN 690 She's Got Game host Robyn Flynn.
Ryerson University's Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education consent educator Farrah Khan told CTV News on the weekend that it's important that Mailloux was open about his actions, and asked not to be drafted in a statement before the draft. However, the Habs picked him anyway, which Khan called disappointing, a sentiment the prime minister echoed on Tuesday.
"What was disappointing, was that his own opinions, own thoughts, weren't being respected by the team," said Khan. "If he's saying this, then why is this team saying, 'Oh, we want to draft you in the first draft.' That's something that I find really confusing."
Melanie Lemay of Quebec Against Sexual Violence said in drafting Mailloux the Habs were insulting fans while promoting a much more problematic attitude towards sexual violence.
"It enables sexual violence, and, at the same time, it's kind of giving us as fans a slap in the face when we reaalize, at the end, it's all about hockey in their eyes and they don't really care of the way it's going to be seen by society," said Lemay.
The selection of Mailloux has also been criticized by Isabelle Charest, Quebec's minister responsible for the status of women, as well as by groups that advocate for women who are victims of sexual violence.
Charest, who is also the province's deputy education minister responsible for sports, wrote Saturday that she was "surprised and disappointed by the Montreal Canadiens decision to draft Logan Mailloux despite his conviction for unacceptable acts."
Trudeau said the decision showed a lack of judgment on the part of the Canadiens organization.
"They have a lot of explaining to do to Montrealers and fans across the country," he said.
-- with files from The Canadian Press.