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Quebec minister challenges QMJHL to ban fights in order to get government aid

Earlier this month, team owners and presidents voted down tougher restrictions on fighting 10 to 8.

League voted against tougher rules on fighting earlier this month

Thomas Ethier, left, and Jordan Lepage fight during a QMJHL game on November 23, 2018. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Quebec's junior education minister says if the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League wants financial aid, it is going to have to ban fighting.

"When you ask for aid, I think you say, 'We will work together, we will identify our common priorities and move forward on the same road,'" said Isabelle Charest, junior education minister and former Olympic speed skater.

She said the league's decision to vote against stricter penalties for fighting shows it has some work to do first.

Earlier this month, team owners and presidents voted down the new rules that would have lengthened the five-minute major penalty for fighting to 15 minutes, and would have suspended players who fight five times in the same season.

The league, faced with revenue shortfalls due to the pandemic, is seeking $20 million in government assistance.

The opposition Liberal party has also been calling for a ban on fighting, with sports and leisure critic and former NHL player Enrico Ciccone agreeing that funds should be withheld to convince the league to act.

"When we ask the leaders of the QMJHL, they say fights are banned," he told Radio-Canada earlier this week.

But with the only punishment just a five-minute penalty, Ciccone said they are still effectively accepted by the league. 

Based on a report by Radio-Canada

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