Quebec Major Junior Hockey League launches sexual violence action plan
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (The Q) says it is working to avoid the scourge of sexual assault complaints throughout the sport and to support victims of sexual assault and misconduct.
There has been a steady stream of sexual assault and misconduct allegations in multiple hockey leagues in recent years and the Q is no exception.
Two QMJHL Victoriaville Tigres hockey players were charged for a sexual offence in 2021 after the team won the President's Cup in June. Nicolas Daigle and Massimo Siciliano were suspended indefinitely in October last year.
The investigation and the allegations that rocked Hockey Canada to its core over the summer further pushed the Q's administration, which decided it needed to do something. Q commissioner Gilles Courteau appeared as a witness at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa at the end of July regarding how Hockey Canada handled the allegations.
Three weeks ago, the league launched an action plan to combat sexual violence and prevent other "problematic behaviours" by educating on consent and working to avoid further issues within the league.
"We wanted to offer our players education so situations like that do not occur in the future in our league," said league spokesperson Maxime Blouin. "We started to think, 'what can we do to help our players?'"
The action plan involves the two-pronged approach of prevention and intervention.
On Monday, Léa Clermont-Dion spoke to the players in a webinar about the "grey zone" surrounding consent and her experience as a victim.
Blouin said Cermont-Dion used "day-to-day examples that she gave to the players so they can understand the grey zone that is consent between yes and no."
Clermont-Dion used Montreal Canadiens' 2021 draft pick Logan Mailloux as an example. Mailloux was charged and fined after sharing with his teammates in Sweden explicit images of a woman with whom he was engaged in sexual relations. Mailloux and the Habs' front office issued a series of apologies, and the defenceman was suspended by the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
- READ MORE: Canadiens make controversial pick at No. 31 with Logan Mailloux, who asked not to be drafted after being charged
Clermont-Dion also spoke about the sexual assault complaint against Institut du Nouveau Monde founder Michel Venne in 2017.
Venne received a six-month prison sentence for sexually assault Clermont-Dion in 2008 when she was a minor.
Clermont-Dion spoke to the Q players about the assault and ensuing ordeal.
"But also she experienced as a woman, as a victim, we wanted our players to understand that side of the story so they can understand how a victim can feel," said Blouin.
Police officers from the municipality the players are based in spoke at training camps to the 16 to 20-year-old players to explain the consequences of sexual misconduct as part of the education plan.
Blouin said more webinars and workshops are forthcoming, and the league is inviting experts to speak and work with the players on the 12 Quebec and six Maritimes teams in the league.
All training is mandatory.
The league also implemented a victim-support procedure where Q administration will help the victim go to the police and find support, meet with an independent committee to make the complaint or speak with director of player services and former RCMP officer Natacha Llorens as they see fit.
"We also want them to feel supported, so we brought some people in to make sure that if the situation happens, the victim is not alone, and the league can support them throughout the process," said Blouin.
As for the accused player or staff member, Blouin said they are immediately suspended and will remain so throughout the investigation.
- With files from CTV News Montreal's Tania Krywiak