A day after the N.L. government launched a campaign to stop bullying and harassment, people involved in hockey and politics in this province are condemning the alleged behaviour of Keith Russell, the MHA for Lake Melville, at a minor hockey tournament in Labrador.
Nada Colbourne of Labrador City said she was "totally appalled" at the behaviour of hockey coach and Progressive Conservative MHA Keith Russell during a tournament in western Labrador earlier this month.
Russell is facing a multi-game suspension by Hockey NL after referees said he was verbally abusive at the Alvin Parrill Memorial Minor Hockey Tournament in Labrador City.
Colbourne was at the tournament on the Remembrance Day weekend to watch three of her grandchildren play. She got a view of Russell's behaviour at the Nov. 10 game, when he disagreed with a call made by one of the referees.
"He was escorted off the bench and put up in the bleachers with the rest of the onlookers and he was still being nasty and saying, using foul language which was not very nice," said Colbourne.
Colbourne added that at the Nov. 11 game Russell had to be escorted out of the arena because of his behaviour.
She said she didn't realize Russell was the Progressive Conservative MHA for Lake Melville until another spectator told her.
"I went, like, really?" said Colbourne. "I was totally appalled by someone that should be of standards to have so much anger in him. And what is he teaching our children?"
Russell should set an example, says Liberal MHA
Eddie Joyce, the MHA for Bay of Islands and the Liberal recreation critic, said he wasn't aware of the exact details of the incidents involving Russell, but he thinks Russell has a responsibility to set an example.
"As an MHA you have to set yourself a bit higher and set standards," said Joyce. "We are looked up to be role models in some of these situations."
Joyce, who has also been a long-time basketball coach, said he currently coaches children in grades five and six.
"I'm pretty sure that if acted in such a way that I was swearing, that I was tossed out of games, that the people that allow me to coach at the school, they wouldn't allow me to continue," said Joyce. "I'm sure the parents wouldn't."
Joyce added that a better job needs to be done to educate coaches about appropriate behaviour in all sports.
Hockey NL is expected to say on Tuesday what kind of suspension Russell faces.
Russell has said he will not comment until Hockey NL makes a ruling on the two incidents.