An Ontario minor hockey executive has been suspended and ordered to take ethics training after posting a slur online about Canadian women who joined a massive march in Washington, D.C., last month.
Windsor Minor Hockey Association president Dean Lapierre apologized last week and said he “screwed up” when he made the comment on his personal Facebook page about the protest in support of women’s rights.
Lapierre â€” described by the association as a tireless 30-year volunteer â€” wrote on Facebook: “Any of those CANADIAN women who wanted to protest the President of the USA and got turned around. Good u dumb bitches. Worry about your own Country CANADA. And your protesting what?”
The Windsor Minor Hockey Association said that after an internal investigation carried out in consultation with the Ontario Minor Hockey Association, it passed a motion suspending Lapierre for the rest of the 2016-17 season, which ends April 9.
The motion further orders the 48-year-old Lapierre to take a workshop by the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre of Windsor and other training programs on respect and ethics when dealing with social media.
The hockey association has also demanded a written apology from Lapierre.
“It was taken very seriously,” Dave Pickford, the association’s vice-president of travel said in an interview. “We realized that we have to institute changes to the way we do business. Dean’s actions reflected negatively on Windsor Minor Hockey Association and we’re taking steps to deal with that.”
The association will update its Code of Conduct to reflect behaviour expected of all its volunteers, particularly when using social media. Its board of directors also plans to participate in the workshop offered by the sexual assault crisis centre.
While the controversial Facebook post was on Lapierre’s own account, and not on the association’s social media feeds, it emphasized the impact such comments can have when made by someone in a public role, Pickford said.
“There has to be an understanding that there’s no really separating a private individual from the public persona on social media,” he said.
Lapierre, who has been the hockey association president for 18 years, will be reinstated in his position after the season ends and his training is complete, Pickford said. An election for the position is set for April 18 but Pickford didn’t know if Lapierre would run for re-election.
While some have questioned if Lapierre’s penalty was severe enough, Pickford noted his colleague had been an essential part of the association for decades, starting safety programs for players and shaping minor hockey in the city.
“He’s made a bad mistake, he’s made an error. But the cornerstone of discipline is rehabilitation and that’s what we’re going to do. And I think everyone deserves a second chance.”
The executive director of the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre for Windsor and Essex County said Lapierre reached out seeking guidance.
“Many times males, especially in hockey culture, mimic language that is offensive to women and their intent isn’t to offend them but the impact is greater in that it is offensive and it actually promotes this view that women are lesser than men,” said Lydia Fiorini.
Lapierre’s case can serve as a learning moment, she said.
“At the end of the day we can definitely say his behaviour was inappropriate but what’s even more important is that he said ‘look, I get it now, and I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure this mistake doesn’t happen again,'” she said.
Fiorini’s centre now plans to work with the hockey association to develop a program to promote respectful behaviour towards females.
Lapierre did not respond to requests for comment, but he told The Canadian Press last week he “should have used better judgement.”
Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press