Montreal Canadiens forward Georges Laraque warms up before the home opener against the Boston Bruins in Montreal Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
MONTREAL - Hockey tough guy Georges Laraque is throwing his considerable weight behind the Green Party of Canada.
The 260-pound former Montreal Canadiens enforcer will be playing a yet to be fully defined role with the party.
"I'm ready to do whatever I can to help," he said Saturday in Montreal.
"We're destroying the environment now and we have to make a change. To make a change you need public personalities to talk about it, to educate people. And I'm going to be one of them."
He has a background lobbying for animal rights, something he ties directly to environmental issues.
"For me, when you talk about everything I do for the animals, it's also about the environment," he said, citing the pollution caused by commercial farming.
Laraque made the announcement prior to a public screening of the film "Earthlings," about the exploitation of animals. He credits the documentary for spurring his interest in animal rights and narrated the French version of the film.
The longtime NHL scrapper is also vegan, meaning he doesn't eat meat and animal-derived products like milk and eggs.
Laraque was approached by the Greens after expressing interest in the party during a TV interview.
But will he be running for the Greens in the next federal elections?
"Not for now," he said. "I will never say no, because you can never know the future, but for now my priority is raising funds for Haiti and my animal causes. And before everything I still play hockey."
With all his projects - animal activism, working with World Vision to raise money for victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, and now working with the Greens - he's been criticized for taking on too much.
He brushed off the remarks.
"A lot of people say I do a lot, maybe too much," he said. "But I say a lot of people don't do enough."
Green party deputy leader Jacques Rivard said Laraque is an ideal candidate to represent the party and boost its profile. The party is planning a promotional push in Quebec in the spring.
Rivard said Laraque will play a role in the campaign.
"It's pretty new," he said. "We will discuss further on what he will do with us. But he's willing to help because he believes in the cause. He's very representative of the new generation."
If the Green party welcomed the former hockey player with open arms, his future will the NHL remains uncertain. Laraque was released by the Habs last month, right after scoring his only goal in two seasons with the team.
"I've been in the NHL for 12 years," he said. "If it's over I'll be able to work on many things like I'm doing now. I have a lot of free time and I'm trying to use it to my advantage. There are things that are much more important than hockey right now."