Quebec says no to further consultations on hazing in junior hockey
An extension of consultations on violence in Junior hockey and possibly other sports has been ruled out by Legault government members sitting on the parliamentary commission.
Quebec Solidaire MNA Vincent Marissal, the instigator of this initiative mandate, had asked to continue the work at the end of the first group of testimonies heard on Wednesday, including that of the commissioner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
The elected official from Rosemont wanted to dig deeper into the issue of hazing by inviting former players.
Minister responsible for Sport Isabelle Charest believes that parliamentarians have the "relevant information" to "improve things."
"We were able to hear from the different organizations about what they have put in place following events. (...) Will hearing everything that has happened, and all the different initiations, lead to more specific things being put in place? I'm not sure," she said in a news scrum Thursday morning.
Marissal believes that the five groups that appeared before the parliamentary commission are far from sufficient.
"We have more questions than answers," he said. "I thought we had agreed with the CAQ to start a job, not to rush it, and, unfortunately, that's what we're doing. I thought we were in for at least three periods. They closed the rink after the warm-up."
The day before, QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau promised MNAs that a "locker room code" would be implemented next season to prevent degrading initiations and to break the culture of silence among its 18 teams.
The hearings before the Culture and Education Commission follow revelations last week of violent initiations in junior hockey, including sexual violence, discrimination and other forms of abuse.
Ontario Superior Court heard that young players were tortured, forcibly confined, shaved, stripped naked, drugged, intoxicated, physically and sexually assaulted and forced to drink urine, among other things.
Courteau told the parliamentary commission that, after verification, none of his teams were involved in the facts mentioned in the judgment and highlighted by Radio-Canada.
The QMJHL also said that it had not received any official complaints about insider trading.
Marissal said he has victims who want to speak publicly. His list of witnesses also includes sports psychologists, lawyers who have worked on the complaints process, and officials from the Complaints Officer and Sport'Aide, he said.
On Wednesday, representatives of Hockey Quebec and the Quebec Student Sport Network (RSEQ) also answered questions from MNAs. They pleaded for more resources for the complaints officer.
McGill University also shared its experience after experiencing hazing in some of its sports teams in 2005 and 2017.
Fabrice Labeau, McGill's senior associate executive vice-principal, academics and student life, explained that the Montreal institution now clearly states in its policy what it considers encouraged and prohibited activities with a list of examples.
Canadian Hockey League president Dan MacKenzie announced the implementation of mandatory training on respect and bad behaviour for players in the leagues under its umbrella, namely those of Ontario and the West, as well as the QMJHL, starting next season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Feb. 23, 2023.