University scolds former NHLer Theo Fleury for 'reprehensible' remarks against vaccine passports

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Theoren Fleury has used Twitter to rail against COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine passports, falsely linking the passports to pedophilia in one now-deleted tweet. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Theoren Fleury has used Twitter to rail against COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine passports, falsely linking the passports to pedophilia in one now-deleted tweet. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Recent remarks against vaccine passports by former NHL star Theoren Fleury are "reprehensible" and a "stain on his legacy," according to a Manitoba university that gave him an honorary doctorate.

Over the weekend, Fleury posted a message on Twitter linking vaccine passports to pedophilia, responding to criticism with a screenshot highlighting several of his past awards, including his honorary degree from Brandon University.

In a statement on Tuesday, the university condemned his "espousing of conspiracy theories."

"Honorary degrees are awarded … to recognize an individual's significant achievements or contributions; they are not an academic credential," the statement said.

That Twitter post has since been deleted from Fleury's account but there are many others attacking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his support of vaccine passports.

Fleury, 53, has also touted ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medicine commonly used for livestock, as an alternative COVID-19 treatment, and lambasted the mainstream media for an alleged "absolute all out disinformation campaign" over its use.

Health Canada has issued an advisory against using ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment.

Studies exploring its effectiveness as a treatment have been used to fuel misinformation — despite being deemed low quality and robustly debunked by federal health agencies.

The university said it supports robust public debate, but that it must be balanced against responsibilities like honesty, integrity and good faith.

Fleury is "increasingly, not meeting that balance," it said.

Fleury was given the degree in 2015 for his significant contributions to combating child sexual abuse and for his efforts to promote healing and recovery "at that time," the university said.

Born in Saskatchewan but raised in Russell, Man., northwest of Brandon, Fleury played 16 seasons in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and the Calgary Flames.

He won a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal but his success was also matched by problems with drinking, drugs and gambling, all of which are well documented in books, public speeches and even a play.

He also suffered sexual abuse at the hands of his former junior hockey coach Graham James.

He became one of the key voices exposing sexual predation in junior hockey, for which, the university said, he continues to deserve both praise and understanding.

The university called on Fleury to recognize that he is now in a position of authority, where he can cause harm to others.

When contacted by CBC News, a spokesperson for Fleury said he had no comment on the university's statement.

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