No Anglos allowed? Really??

So, let's see if I have this right. It's almost 2012, but in Montreal, si tu ne parle pas français as your primary language, then you should not be behind the bench of the vaunted "bleu, blanc et rouge."

Not even temporarily.

That's the position taken by Christine St-Pierre, the culture minister for the province of Quebec, after Montreal fired coach Jacques Martin and replaced him with longtime NHL grinder Randy Cunneyworth on an interim basis Saturday.

"The Montreal Canadiens are an institution and the coach must communicate in the language of the massive majority of its Quebec fans," she told The Canadian Press on Monday.

It should be noted that St-Pierre – a former journalist for more than three decades with the CBC – was referred to in September by fellow blogger Christopher di Armani as Quebec’s “self-proclaimed minister of propaganda.”

Di Armani may be on to something. He notes that St-Pierre is responsible for enforcing Bill 101. That’s the set of laws making it illegal to have a sign where English words are bigger than the French words.

Well, if that just doesn’t smack of censorship, but that’s another issue altogether.

Though they may bleed the fleur de lis, my message to St-Pierre and the remainder of the Bloc Quebecois is stay out of this issue.

Three – that’s right three – of the 26 players currently Montreal’s roster are from La Belle Province. I’m sure Cunneyworth, who has pledged to learn French, will be able to get his point across just fine en anglais pour maintenant.

Hard to have much of an uproar over a lack of French-first. The last time the Habs had a unilingual coach, Al MacNeil guided them to the Stanley Cup - oops! Coupe Stanley, sorry! - way back in 1971.

With 24 Stanley Cup banners hanging from the rafters of the Bell Centre – oops! Centre Bell, sorry! – the Canadiens will forever be NHL royalty, on a par in North American sports with the Boston Celtics or New York Yankees.

However, there have been no victory parades since 1993. In fact, Montreal has reached the conference finals once since then.

Under whose guidance? Laperriere and Tremblay. Vigneault and Therrien. Julien, Carbonneau around two brief stints by Gainey and, finally, Martin.

Maybe there is something to this English-first thing after all.

There’s no doubt Canadiens fans want the best of both worlds – a francophone to help bring the Cup to Montreal. Suppose Cunneyworth out of Etobicoke, Ontario, somehow, someway gets this bunch to win it all next summer. Not likely, but what if?

Then what?

A mea culpa from St-Pierre and her cronies?

An apology?

Not likely on either count.

1 comment:

honoriaplum said...

Most sports teams I'm familiar with would ransom their collective grandmothers if required to get the best coach and players - from any origin or corner of the known universe.

I presume this woman has been made Culture Minister by her party to keep her busy - and well away from any of the important ministerial portfolios.