The Montreal Sovereigntists -

The Montreal Sovereigntists

The Montreal Canadiens are the precise embodiment of everything the Parti Québécois has ever stood for


Ordinarily I frown on people trying to inject politics into sports, but in this case I’ll make an exception:

DRUMMONDVILLE – In her closing speech to a Parti Québécois meeting Sunday, PQ leader Pauline Marois drew a parallel between her party’s goal of making Quebec a sovereign country and the Montreal Canadiens’ quest for the Stanley Cup.

“The whole nation is vibrating in tune with a team of players who were called too small, not talented enough, not proud enough to win” Marois said.

“I am talking about the Montreal Canadiens,” she said winning applause from about 600 delegates and observers, some of them wearing Habs sweaters.

“Today, like Quebecers, it is because they played as a team, that they sacrificed themselves for the team, that they can aspire to the highest honour,” Marois said….

“When we have solidarity, determination, pride we can succeed at everything, starting with the sovereignty of Quebec.”

Because, you see, she has a point. The Montreal Canadiens are the precise embodiment of everything the Parti Québécois has ever stood for, a living example of the compassionate, social-democratic, and above all sovereign Quebec Ms Marois is trying to build. After all, they are:

– foreign owned. Well, technically Anglo-owned, ever since the Molsons bought it back from George Gillett, but same diff

– made up mostly of foreign players. Of the current 25-man roster, only 14  are Canadian-born. Just three are from Quebec. There are more Americans, more British Columbians, more Torontonians on this team than there are Quebecers — and as many Czechs. Needless to say, the language of the workplace is English

– part of a league in which they are forever condemned to be a minority. Although the team’s share of representation in the NHL  has dwindled over the years from one-sixth to one-thirtieth, they have as yet not elected to separate, or threaten to.

I could go on. The Canadiens are not only mostly foreign, but exclusively male. Selected by a remorselessly Darwinian process, they play a game noted for its anarchic violence and cut-throat competition — possibly owing to its British origins. I’m told they are paid many times the average worker’s wages for it.

In short, nothing says Quebec pride and solidarity like a team stacked with visiting Czech millionaires playing a Scottish game for American money. Oh, and did I mention they’re called the Canadiens?

Still, at least they’re paying Quebec’s punitive tax rates. As Ms Marois said, it’s all about “sacrificing for the team.”


The Montreal Sovereigntists

  1. Politicians piggybacking on the success of sports teams has always been unsavoury, pandering to a team's fans in order to gain politically. Of course, I don't see how any voter with two brain cells to rub together would actually change his or her vote based on a politician's sports metaphors. Then again, you could do worse, like Michael Ignatieff who refuses to pander to only one team's fans: .

  2. and striving to win the Lord Stanley Cup, go figure

  3. and they also play as a coalition…. er… team.

    • Wouldn't playing as a coalition involve icing a side with players from two teams or more? So, for example, you'd have players from the Canadiens, Leafs, and Canucks all playing on one new monstrosity of a team, and this AFTER the season already began and without consent of the fans? Just wondering.

      • So the all star teams from each conference and the National team we send at the Olympics and world championships should be considered a coalition?

        • No, they're more like blue ribbon panels. But, hey, if you'd like to consider Dion, Layton, and Duceppe as part of some kind of all-star team, be my guest.

          • Layton does have that moustache that a lot of great players had back in the days.

            If we are comparing hockey teams to politics I would say that a hockey team is similar to a parties caucus or even the ministers in the government (the other members of the caucus can be seen as the players playing for the farm team). Laraque could be seen as the minister of breaking teeth who did not do a good enough job and not only lost is minister status but also was kicked out of the caucus. Halak of course is the minister of "OH MY GOD! How is he stopping all those shots".

          • Laraque's new nickname is hereby "Helena Georges".

  4. Layton's moustache? Like his politics, definitely a Vyacheslav Molotov.

  5. If the Habs lose, I'll blame high salaries and the influx of foreign hockey players.

    • I will blame the players

    • The cbc will blame Stephen Harper

  6. Thanks for the chuckle, Andrew! Very funny.

  7. As much as I love to take jabs at those crazy separatists, I can't get over that the national editor of McLeans – with all of his resources, knowledge, and servants at his disposal – would do it with such a pedantic and pedestrian article.

    "I could go on."

    Well please do Andrew, you know how those Anglophone peasants likes to hear irrelevant and historically debatable facts to justify their millennium-old hatred of the frenchies.

    What's that? You can't actually go on? It's just an expression?

    Well… it's hard to believe that only a National Editor of a National Magazine is allowed to use symbolism to make a point. How silly of me to think that Marois's comparison was limited strictly to the underdog struggle of both the Habs and the Separatists.

    • For some reason, you made me think of Andrés w[h]ines. Who could forget Baby Duck?

      Hugely successful, Baby Duck was the best-selling domestic wine during the 1970s and it hatched numerous imitators: Canada Duck, Love-A-Duck, Kool Duck, Daddy Duck and Fuddle Duck were joined by Cold Turkey, etc… All of these wines driving the runaway expansion in the wine trade in the 1960s and 1970s were concocted from water, sugar and grapes that were judged unsuitable for making good quality dry table wines.

      • Houses wines are making a comeback in French Canadian homes, vis à vis lame French comparisons in English Canadian homes. At least we have more fun.

        Am I really the only one here that thinks Coyne is making the same kind of strawman he condemns Marois of doing? What's more, the peanut gallery suddenly became quiet because this we're making fun of those darn quebecers again.

        • I think it's the separatist leader that was the target, not "those darn quebecers". English Canadians, for the large part, can differentiate, I believe. Probably why "the peanut gallery suddenly became quiet".

          • Gaunillon, at least, can't differentiate. In his view from the comment bellow if Marois refers to the Quebec Nation then she must mean the separatist movement. Also seeing as most comments refer to Quebecers or francophone culture in general, I'd say the large part of English Canadians can't differentiate as well.

            And then we're still not addressing Coyne's double standard. Marois did not compare the Montreal Canadians to the Separatist movement based on cultural heritage, ownership, and lingual lineage. "a team of players who were called too small, not talented enough, not proud enough to win" are the key words and they seem to have escaped everyone, lest everyone would rather continue to alienate the Province of Quebec than write a decent article.

        • I don't think its' a strawman Andre, I think the argument is stating fact to political bullshit. Symbolism or no, the fact is that the reality is far different from the image, much like the peddlers of the idea of a sovereign nation.

          Quebec is a welfare case. Until it develops an economy that doesn't mimic Greece, all of the talk of sovereignty is simply bull.

        • Yes, you are the only one. Everybody else has figured out that it's a columnist making fun of a politician who made a really stupid comparison to try and score partisan points.

          Sadly, someone suffering from a persecution complex will always show up and try to read into it things that aren't there.

    • J'ai eu exactement la même réaction que vous, André.

      • Insecurity is a common malaise?

      • Les deux réactions sont grincheuses, n'est-ce pas? The author wasn't casting aspersions on separatism, but the dangers of metaphor.

    • Andre, the sooner Quebecers come to the realization that political independence is a dead-end street and not the panacea for all of Quebec's problems, the better.

      The current problems that ail Quebec, high debt, high taxation rates, low birth-rate, the worst education system in Canada, to name a few, are all problems that can be adressed in the federal system or conversely that will continue even with a politically independent Quebec. The energy devoted to the independance project is wasted energy.

      That Quebecers would start focusing on real political problems. As I said below, it's tragic what's going on there. Where's the leadership? I don't see it. I just don't.

  8. Pauline Marois just accomplished the unimaginable – getting me to cheer for those SOBs from Philly. And I am married to a Montreal woman.

    Fortunately at this point (about 7 minutes left in game one) it looks like Marois shouldn't bet the farm on this comparison.

    PS: My wife just saw what I was writing and said "how much do you value this relationship.?"

  9. One more little detail, Andrew. Don't forget the anarchic A-holes who like to smash windows and throw Molotov cocktails in alleged support of their team.

  10. Actually the Quebec Nordiques would be a better hockey analogy as Quebec's hockey team.

    Draped in nationalist colours and led in their glory years by Pierre Stasné, Joseph Sakique, Pierre Forsbourg….not quite pure-laine but favourite [adopted] sons nonetheless.

    There will always be die-hard separatists as there will always be die-hard Nordiques fans, just as there will always be those who think that the confederacy will rise again. There are many in the U.S. south who still yearn for independence. It's both sad and pathetic.

    Quebec separatistism has the added tinge of the tragic: how much time and energy that is sapped by this rainbow chasing exercise that could be put to better use by Quebecers. Tragic is the word.

    • There are many in the U.S. south who still yearn for independence.

      I doubt that.

      • You're quite right, it would be more like a miserable few.

      • Here's one rather prominent one:

        From the article… "In April 2009, Perry endorsed a resolution supporting state sovereignty as reserved by the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

        • and where does that state that he supports independence for Texas, or for a reborn confederacy?

          • Yeah, and he STILL doesn't do it. Do you even read your own sources, or feel it necessary to justify the claims you make on here? Or are you simply in the habit of one-line drive-bys. Geez.

            For example, Perry's support for invoking the tenth amendment is something that numerous other states have done, including Southern Bastions such as ALASKA and NEW HAMPSHIRE.

            But, hey, why not miss an opportunity to spread misinformation and resentment about a certain region in this world, eh?

            Hey, I don't mind Texas. You?

          • I guess you missed this quote by Governor Perry in the article,

            "Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that," Perry said. "My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that."

            Does that sound like sovereignist extortion to you Dennis? Something like a province you know?

            You probably love that school board in Texas too. I'm not a big fan of those ignoramuses.

            I do like the Atheist Community of Austin thou, they do good work:

          • No, I read the quote. You?

            We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it.

            Never ceases to amaze me how people who consider themselves the smartest in the room aren't even capable of basic reading and reasoning skills.

            But at least you had the guts to admit that you hate Texans. Don't know too many intolerant people who would come out and just say it. Congrats.

  11. When she said "the whole nation is vibrating in tune …" did she mean Canada or Quebec?

    Because if she meant the former then I'd have to say that her attempt to graft sovereignty onto a hockey team struck a dissonant note.

  12. If you want to know what a Sovreign Quebec would look like you can see an example of it today.

    The BQ and PQ are both socialist parties…..the French version of the NDP.

    If you want to know what Quebec would look like as a Sovreign country one simply needs to look at Greece. They too believe in short work weeks, early retirement, not paying taxes, and generous social benefits. Just like the NDP and the Sovreigntists.

    IF Quebec seperates, it will have the economy of Greece in less than 20 years.

    And guess who would be expected to bail them out of the mess of their own making?

    • The last word I would use to describe Pauline Marois is socialist. Her decisions as minister make Harper look like a socialist.

    • So it's okay to be in favour of taxation, now?

    • If she promises to stop accepting equalization payments I am all for her becoming Queen of Quebec.

      We should have a trial separation where Quebec does not get the equalization payments for 5 years. That clause should have been written in the clarity act.

      • The Clarity Act

        Developed by a young REFORM MP prior to the Quebec Referendum and offered to Jean Chretian – who wanted no part of it.

        We almost lost the referendum, and Jean Chretien changed his mind. Took these points provided by the REFORM party and asked Stephane Dion to re-write it in Liberal-ease.

        Who was the REFORM MP who is actually responsible for the Clarity Act?

        A: Stephen Harper.

        Of course, you'll never hear the LIbs admit that.

    • Quebec has nothing to worry about -Canada has paid their way for many years and would continue to, even if they were to separate and they know it. (i'm a former quebecer)

    • René Angelil.

  13. Pure comedic gold, Mr. Coyne. An excellent post. Thanks!

  14. Good read

  15. Priceless Andrew

  16. A related point is that I find this whole thing about Canadians having some duty to cheer for "the Canadian team" in the playoffs to be slightly ridiculous. The Vancouver Canucks are stuffed with foreign-born players, especially on their top line, and have been for many years. As AC pointed out, the Habs have similar issues. So calling these teams "Canadian" is like calling Chelsea an English football team (it ain't, really). I'm far more comfortable cheering for Chicago, San Jose or Philly, all of whom have Canadian-born players prominently featured on their top lines, including several of our Olympic team members. So I'm cheering for the Habs to go down in flames . . .

  17. "Still, at least they're paying Quebec's punitive tax rates. As Ms Marois said, it's all about “sacrificing for the team.”

    Pretty sure most of them have primary residence outside of PQ, or are the prime asset of a offshore company sort of like Canada Steamship company and are getting beaten up by the Bahamas taxes.

    Seriously, It would be interesting to see how much of the $50,000,000 plus payroll gets taxed in Quebec.

  18. Disregarding Canadian player content or the location of the home audience, I am very much pro Chicago in this edition of the quest for Lord Stanley's mug. They haven't won it since 1961, whereas les Québécois de Montréal are always a serious threat, succeeding every few years in between their dynasties. If their rallying cry is conducive to sovereignty, then my boyhood recollections of l'Équipe Séparatiste are reaffirmed, and it remains impossible to cheer for them. I'm with Orson Bean on this one…. Carry on Philly!!

  19. Question: What's worse: When politicians wade into the sporting arena, like our Ms. Marois? Or when sports teams wade into the political arena, like the Phoenix Suns did in wearing uniforms protesting Arizona's immigration enforcement law? Or like the Illinois school superintendent did in banning a high school basketball team from going to a much anticipated tournament in, wait for it, Arizona?

  20. To Pauline Marois, all I can appropriately say is: "And yak, 'n yak,'n yak, 'n yak" or, in other well known words: "Yada, yada, yada, yada."

    Isn't it wonderful that one can jump on any bandwagon or any event or person, etc. that has attributes that can be used to further one's cause? It doesn't matter if that event or person, etc. doesn't even associate itself with the cause in question. How pragmatic, how superb an example of 'the ends justify the means.'

    Finally, to Mme Marois I'll add this: "Whatever!".

    "Mme Marois, votre opinion ne vaut pas beaucoup et est encore plus abaissé par cette déclaration."

  21. At what point will Canada be forced to dicate austerity measures on Quebec if it is to continue to receive the institutionalized bailouts which are transfer payments? Can you imagine La Belle Province having to give up $7 daycare, baby bonuses and *gasp* pay cuts to the provincial civil service??

    Of course at that point they may opt for their long held dream to join the Eurozone!

  22. Quebec bashing, nothing new!!!

  23. Pauline Andrew . Whatever! Go Habs Go!

  24. When the Leafs are gonne make the payoff, i hope Le journal de Montréal will make a link between the team and federalist to.


    Désolé si mon anglais n'est pas bon,,,, Devinez pourquoi.