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.”
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.