New Brunswick — “It’s like slave labour!” cried Khris Gallows, a spokesperson for the Canadian Hockey League, according to a report on CBC Wednesday afternoon.
The slavery he referred to was resulting from the province’s decision not to include amateur athletes in the most recent increase of New Brunswick’s minimum wage to $11/hour.
Labour Minister Donald Arseneault reluctantly spoke with The Manatee about the decision to exempt athletes from the labour standards laws. “Listen, I’ve only got few minutes,” he said, trying to brush off the questions. “I have a lunch reservation at A&W and I want to get there before all the high school kids get all the root beer-flavoured suckers. All I will say is that this decision was made with the same thought and care I put in all my decisions — a bunch of minutes of work, I tell you.”
Our reporter asked Galloway, who also plays for the Saint John Sea Dogs, why he was equating the unequal labour standards to the severe practice of slavery.
“Well, think about it,” he replied. “Slaves were taken from their home country, sold and traded as property, they were forced to labour for up to 20 hours a day at times, with little to no food, no pay, they were threatened, beaten, whipped, and treated like garbage. And we play hockey and don’t get paid well for it — it’s practically identical!
“As a player, I can be sold or traded,” Galloway continued. “I get threatened and beaten while playing, I don’t get to eat in the middle of a game and am forced to face the worst of human conditions — last month we played a game in St. Stephen.”
While the parallels between hockey and slavery now seem obvious, in previous years hockey was an admired pastime for many Canadians who grew up dreaming of the chance to play, even at an amateur level.
“Here I was being all envious that these players get to do something they love,” lamented Patrick Reed of Fredericton, “and now I’m filled with sorrow and pity for them. How can the government sit idly by, just watching these players suffer by being forced to voluntarily do something they love? This is outrageous and I blame Gallant.”
When Gallant was questioned, he quickly recused himself of the controversy, stating, “Look at me, guys! I’ve obviously got the body of an athlete, so I can’t exactly talk about this situation with an unbiased view.”