Quebec minister to order probe after complaint about QMJHL English-only playoff garb

MONTREAL — Quebec’s French language minister says he’ll ask the province’s language watchdog to investigate after the leader of the Parti Québécois complained about a lack of French on a QMJHL team’s playoff garb.

On Wednesday night, Paul St−Pierre Plamondon complained on X, formerly Twitter, about T−shirts and hoodies reading "Gilles−Courteau Trophy playoffs" worn by players from the Drummondville Voltigeurs. The Gilles−Courteau Trophy is the league’s championship trophy.

St−Pierre Plamondon posted a second photo that showed players with the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League’s Chicoutimi Saguenéens in a room with slogans in English behind them.

"The QMJHL is the QUEBEC league responsible for the development of our young Quebec players. Its common and official language should be French," he wrote.

On Thursday, French Language Minister Jean−François Roberge said it makes no sense for Quebec teams to have unilingual English on their shirts or in their locker rooms.

"I think that this does not respect — at the very least — the principle of the law," Roberge told reporters in Quebec City, adding he intended to file a complaint later in the day. The province’s language law declares that French is the official language of Quebec and "the only common language of the Quebec nation."

The Quebec Maritime Junior Hockey League said on Wednesday that it has raised the matter of the English−only shirts with the Drummondville organization. It chalked the matter up to a human error and the shirts should have, at the very least, been bilingual.

Raphaël Doucet, a spokesman for the league, noted that players in the league come from all over the world and English is often used to communicate with them. The league is also tasked with preparing players to play professionally, where English is the predominant language.

"We must therefore immerse them in an environment similar to that of the leagues in which they dream of playing,” Doucet wrote in a response to St−Pierre Plamondon on X Wednesday.

The PQ leader said Thursday he wasn’t satisfied with that response.

"I understand that there are accommodations, but here we are really faced with a lack of consideration and respect for the Quebec language in the league that develops our Quebec players, in our national sport," St−Pierre Plamondon told reporters. He posted later on X that he was pleased with the government’s response and said his party will await conclusions of the probe with interest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2024.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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