VIDEO: Lapierre Issues Apology Amid Protest

An apology from newly reinstated Windsor Minor Hockey Association president Dean Lapierre doesn't seem to be appeasing his critics.

Upwards of 50 people attended a protest at Average Joe's Sports Bar where the Association was holding its annual general meeting Tuesday evening. Many felt reinstating Lapierre after a two-month suspension sends the wrong message to kids playing hockey.

He was suspended in January for inflammatory comments made on Facebook regarding women held up at the border trying to join women's marches in the US.

Lapierre had wrote "good you dumb bitches" in referencing the women being held up at the border and continued "worry about your own Country CANADA."

Windsorite Elizabeth Ha attended the rally. She has two daughters, three and five years old, and doesn't feel Lapierre's conduct is appropriate for a leader of an organization responsible for children.

"To know that someone who is in that type of position and is allowed to say those things and be given their job back, it's disturbing because I wouldn't want my little girls to hear things like that or have role models who feel that they're [the daughters] less than another gender," says Ha.

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Protestors outside of Average Joe's sports bar in Windsor rallying against the reinstatement of Windsor Minor Hockey president Dean Lapierre on April 18, 2017. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

She feels Lapierre is getting off easy after he attacked women she holds in high regard.

"The women that marched that day, they're heroes to me," says Ha. "They're not just marching that day for themselves, they're marching for my kids and the next generation, so for him to say that about them — it's inappropriate."

Pat Papadeas organized the trip to the women's marches in the US. She doesn't feel Lapierre appreciates why there are people outraged by his comments.

"He appears to think this is an issue about social media gone wrong," says Papadeas. "For us, it's an issue that he appears to have a fundamental disrespect for women and this is not someone who should be in a leadership role of a minor hockey association or any sports organization in our community."

Papadeas feels the sentiment that the reaction to Lapierre's comments has been blown out of proportion is unfortunate.

"What's happened is they've allowed that to frame the issue and that's why Mr. Lapierre is now before us saying, 'I've learned, I've gotten myself off of social media and I've learned that whatever you say on social media sticks,'" says Papadeas. "We do not need a lesson on social media. He needs a lesson on gender equity and respect for women."

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Dean Lapierre, president of the Windsor Minor Hockey Association, chairs the annual general meeting on April 18, 2017. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Lapierre read his prepared apology from a sheet of paper at the WMHA meeting.

"During my suspension I had the chance to reflect on my actions and taken steps to correct my behaviour. I want to apologize for the hurt that I have caused. I know I'm not perfect, but I can assure you that this will never happen again," he read.

Lapierre says he did not mean to hurt anybody with his comments.

"I do not believe that any kind of inappropriate behaviour for any reason is acceptable and that everyone deserves the right to be treated with respect, not only on social media, but anywhere else."

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Protestors outside of Average Joe's sports bar in Windsor rallying against the reinstatement of Windsor Minor Hockey president Dean Lapierre on April 18, 2017. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Windsor Minor Hockey did not want to provide any further comment outside of Lapierre's apology.

Lisa Bastien attended the rally and feels Windsor Minor Hockey isn't addressing the issue appropriately. She sees it as a missed opporunity.

"Windsor Minor Hockey has led on concussions and because of their program concussions have gone down. They could've been a leader on human rights and they could've taken a stand to say, 'We're going to have these policies and we're going to take this seriously,'" says Bastien.

The WMHA says it has reviewed its polices and procedures as it relates to abuse, harrassment and bullying leading to a new social media policy set to be in place before the start of the season in September.