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The Quebec minister will order an investigation after a complaint concerning the holding of the QMJHL playoffs only in English


The Quebec government says it will ask the province’s language watchdog to investigate after Parti Québécois leader complained about lack of French on QMJHL team’s playoff run .

Wednesday evening, PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon complained on The Gilles-Courteau Trophy is awarded to the team that wins the league championship.

St-Pierre Plamondon published a second photo showing players from the Chicoutimi Saguenéens of the Quebec Maritime Junior Hockey League in a room with slogans behind them written in English.

“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 made no sense for Quebec teams to have unilingual English on their jerseys or in their locker rooms.

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

The Minister of Sports, Isabelle Charest, declared that she did not have the capacity to impose French on a private league, but she called on it to act in good faith. “We are in Quebec and we want our young players to speak French,” Charest said.

The Quebec Maritime Junior Hockey League said Wednesday that it had raised the issue of English-only jerseys with the Drummondville organization. He attributed the matter to human error, adding that the shirts should, at the very least, have been bilingual.

In a press release, the Voltigeurs de Drummondville organization indicated that new clothing was being ordered and would be distributed to players.

“French has and will always be of paramount importance in our organization,” said David Boies, Director of Operations. Internal communications, social media posts and engagement with fans and partners are done only in French, but as the team is part of the league that operates in four provinces, in some cases interactions with Players and signage are in English, he added.

The 18-team league, including six teams based in Atlantic Canada, recently added the word Maritime to its name.

Raphaël Doucet, a spokesperson for the league, stressed that its players come from all over the world and that English is often used to communicate with them. The league also has a mission to prepare 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 on Wednesday.

But on Thursday, the league issued a stronger statement, saying it was unaware the Voltigeurs had made team jerseys in English only. “As soon as the league was informed, it asked the Voltigeurs to rectify the situation, which will be done.”

The press release specifies that French is the “official language” of the league, emphasizing that “everything happens in French at the QMJHL head office.” The league will remind its 12 Quebec teams “of the importance of French in their daily operations.”

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


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