When the Montreal Canadiens hockey club drafted an 18 year-old defenseman named Logan Mailloux, they clearly underestimated the vituperative backlash it would generate. While playing hockey in Sweden, Mailloux had shared a photo with his teammates that he had surreptitiously taken when he was having sex with an 18 year-old female. He was 17 at the time. He was charged, convicted, and fined. He also expressed remorse for his actions and stated that in the circumstances, his name should be withdrawn from the draft. Nonetheless, the Canadiens selected him.

An outpouring of indignant comments ensued from commentators, lobbyists, and politicians including a provincial cabinet minister and even the Prime Minister of Canada. The gist of this indignation was that the Montreal Canadiens were sending the wrong message by trivializing an important crime.

Mailloux’s conduct was indeed reprehensible and the victim no doubt left scarred. That said, in my respectful view, the Canadiens were sending the appropriate message by drafting this young man. They implicitly recognized that having committed the offense while a minor, having recognized his guilt and shown remorse, he should not be hindered or estopped from pursuing his professional ambitions. This is in every way consistent with the principles of our Youth Criminal Justice Act. Given that Logan Mailloux was 17 at the time, had he been charged in Canada, this legislation would have applied. For a youth with no criminal antecedents, he would likely have benefitted form extrajudicial measures whereby by admitting his responsibility, the case would have been diverted away from the court system and the charge dismissed. Even had the case proceeded through the court system culminating in a guilty verdict, his name could not have been published, and the record would have been destroyed after 3 years. This is because our legislation recognizes that young persons have a reduced level of maturity, and that we as a community favour an approach that encourages rehabilitation. Logan Mailloux’s name and face drew international attention and opprobrium. He has already suffered far greater punishment than that which could have been expected had he been arrested here. Is that not enough? Do we now need to impair his future?

In this case, the cancel culture of our times led to a chorus of shallow, irresponsible, if not mean-minded comments and tweets from highly-placed persons motivated by the opportunity to capitalize on the heavily publicized fall-out of the case. Logan Mailloux deserved better. We as a community deserve better.