Protesters rallied Tuesday night against the reinstatement of minor hockey association president Dean Lapierre, who was suspended from his position two months ago after making misogynistic comments about women on Facebook.
Dozens showed up with placards, chanting slogans like "real leaders respect women," outside the Windsor Minor Hockey Association's annual general meeting at Average Joe's Sports Bar in east Windsor.
"We have listened to what Mr. Lapierre has to say and it is very clear he does not understand what part of his conduct was incompatible with his duties as president of a kids' sports organization," said Pat Papadeas, who organized the local contingent that joined the Women's March on Washington.
"This is no longer about Dean Lapierre. This is now about the Windsor Minor Hockey Association."
Lapierre was removed from the position in January after his social media post described Canadian participants in the march as "dumb bitches." The post was investigated by the Ontario Minor Hockey Association.
"I took the hit, I did the time," he said when reached by phone Monday. "I used the wrong words. If they wanted to march I should have left it alone."
That explanation for his behaviour did not sit well with Papadeas and other protestors, who say Lapierre is apologizing for putting his comments on social media, not the behaviour itself.
"I did not hear an apology," Papadeas said. "I heard a lot of information about him thinking this is about social media and how to be proper on social media. That is not what this issue is about."
No more social media
Lapierre said he has removed himself from all social media, participated in online training and did some in-person training with Lydia Fiorini from the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre of Essex County.
Lapierre described the hockey association as the "love of his life" along with his family, so it was difficult to be barred from awards banquets and camps while he was suspended. Still, he maintains he learned his lesson.
"The most important thing I learned is anything you put on the Internet stays there," he said. "I think my comments offended people and the last thing I wanted to do was be malicious to anyone whether it be women or anything like that."
In the days after Lapierre's comments were made public, Fiorini called on him to make a public apology, female hockey players in Windsor said his words were moving women's hockey in the "wrong direction" and Unifor Local 444 pulled its funding from the association.
Dean Lapierre Apology Letter:
In the latter part of January 2017 I made some comments on social media that were totally inappropriate and should have never happened. I was under the mistaken belief that what I said on social media was okay but clearly it is not the case.
I know that I offended many people. I did not intend to hurt anyone and at the time I did not understand the impact that it has on some groups of people. I have spoken to many people, many of whom are professionals and I now have an appreciation of people's perspectives and opinions.
I now believe that any kind of inappropriate behaviour for any reason is unacceptable and that everyone deserves the right to be treated with respect, not only on social media but anywhere else.
I also understand that as the President of the Windsor Minor Hockey that I am held to a high standard within the community and that what I say and do in my private life impacts on the Windsor Minor Hockey Association. During my suspension,
I have had a chance to reflect on my actions and have taken steps to correct my behaviour. I want to apologize for the hurt that I have caused. I know that I am not perfect and have made mistakes. I can assure you that this will never happen again.
Yours truly, Dean Lapierre
-Source: WMHA website