Thursday, May 3, 2007

I'm probably going to regret this, but...'s not, as some are suggesting, a total waste of time for Canadian Parliamentarians to be debating the Shane Doan situation. I say this, by the way, even though I actually believe Shane Doan when he says he wasn't the one who directed the "f***'in frenchmen" slur at the four French-Canadian officials who worked the Habs-Coyotes game in question, way the hell back in 2005. I'll accept his assertion that, as a devout Christian, he doesn't ever ever use the F-word. I'll even accept that Doan is sincere when he says he would have made the exact same argument about four California-native refs officiating a game in LA; goofy and legitimate accusations of homerism abound in hockey (remember the 2002 women's hockey gold medal game? Damn American refs....)

Okay. Still. It's beyond dispute, and Doan acknowledges, that there were anti-French slurs (mostly of the juvenile, schoolyard type) flying all over the ice, and that Doan was indirectly drawn into it. It's also beyond dispute that the NHL, by (a) clearing Doan, (b) not investigating the incident further and (c) failing to publicly back Cormier, miserably failed to read the mood in Quebec.

Finally, it's also beyond dispute that waaaaaaaay too many people outside Quebec can't, or don't bother to, follow what's being said in the francophone Quebec media. If they did, they'd know that this issue never actually went away, that anger over the gaping chasm between Michel Cormier's report and the NHL's tactic of basically washing its hands of the whole affair has been simmering. Hockey Canada should have seen this coming, should have been prepared, should have dealt with it head-on. The fact that they didn't make an effort to understand or anticipate the sentiment in Quebec (or at least among the francophone Quebec press) is a massive failure on their part.

François Gagnon (sportwriter for La Presse, frequent guest on the anglophone CFCF-Montreal sports show SportsNight 360 and blogger, gets it exactly right:

"Ça fait 18 mois que c’est arrivé cette affaire là. Dix huit mois qu’on en parle dans tous les médias du Québec et nos collègues de Toronto n’ont pas cru bon une seconde s’intéresser à ce qui se disait ici. Et c’est justement parce qu’ils se réveillent à la dernière minute que cela fait tout un plat et qu’on se retrouve encore à dire que les francophones passent leur temps à se plaindre dans le reste du pays.


"[Doan] a été nono dans ses commentaires. Il a manqué de jugement, et de respect. Mais je suis convaincu qu’il n’a pas de haine viscérale contre les francophones. Il n’a pas la moindre idée de l’impact de ce qu’il a dit. C’est tout!

"Mais les grands coupables dans ce dossier sont les responsables de la LNH, Colin Campbell en tête, qui a balayé le fait français sous le tapis comme on balaie les restes de poussières que la balayeuse a laissés derrière elle.... Les grands responsables sont les dirigeants de Hockey Canada qui ont eu l’audace de dire qu’ils n’étaient pas au courant de l’affaire et qui se sont mis les deux pieds dans la merde comme des enfants se mettent les deux pieds dans le premier trou d’eau qu’ils croisent sur le chemin de l’école."

What he's saying, in not so many words, is that if there are still two solitudes in this country, it's because too many people aren't trying hard enough.


The Commentator said...

Don't buy it. He didn't say it. I live, like you, here in Quebec. This is a society gripped by politics - more so than "les anglophones." Gagnon is offisde on this one.

This all adds up to LIBEL. What part of this doesn't Gagnon get? He called Kovalev a "liar" on radio. He sounded like such an idiot. Maybe the English media are more responsible. Ever think of this? I listen to both the French and English and it is the French who are far, FAR more political on average. You can go months without hearing the "P" word on English radio or papers. Try and do this with one week on the French side. There was no story.

The NHL did investigate and Cormier identified the wrong player. Doan (though no they are upset at soemthing else he said but the whole debate is based on a racial slur that was uttered by another player) never said it. He said something else. Gagnon is not a responsible or credible journalist to me after reading this. It simmered because they made a mountain out of a mole hill.

Personally, we live in a place that is constantly painting itself as the victim. Guess what? We humiliate ourselves.

Here's the problem. Denis Coderre went off when this story happened before getting the proper facts. It does not merit parliamentary debate. Canada is a country with many problems - have you stood in line in a hospital recently?

Gagnon, the Bloc etc. are all WRONG. End of story.

Reminds me of the World Cup. After Zidane did what he to Materazzi the French PR system and British tabloids IMMEDIATELY went overboard all based on HERESAY. Hmm, sounds like gaganon and Kovalev. Not one piece of proof produced. They ran Materazzi's name in the mud. Even the players lied after the game about him talking about racial slurs and derogatory comments about Zidane's mother. Guess who lied? Zidane and the French none of this happened as he confessed to FIFA. But the percpetion was solidified. Materazzi was the bad guy and Zidane the tragic hereo.

You know what THAT was? A soccer player with a history of this sort of stuff being played and cracking under pressure at the slightest of comments.

My point? Get over it. As if Quebec politicians would give a damn rat's ass if Quebecers make racial comments. And we all know Quebec can be as parochial and xenophobic with the best of them.

It's a stupid, insipid debate.

People who live in glass houses should not hurl stones. Let the story go...I know this was long but think about it for a second long and hard at what our government is doing. THINK....

The Commentator said...

My apologies for the grammar. It was long enough and ran out of time to edit!

d. andy jette said...

There are loose cannons in both the English and French sports press. In my opinion, François Gagnon is not one of them. He was, for example, vocal in his defense of Saku Koivu on his blog, even as some of the more vociferous wingnuts in Quebec demanded Koivu be strung up by the ears for his "refusal" to speak French. He's one of the few that even make an effort to bridge the French-English media divide in Montreal. Lumping him in with the Bloc isn't fair.

We're in a chicken vs. egg debate here; from my vantage point the molehill became a mountain because the league didn't deal with it properly in the first place. Like I said, I accept Doan's explanation, including his assertion (which Gagnon doesn't appear to buy) that he doesn't swear. But as you note, somebody (though not Doan) dropped the f-bomb on Cormier during the game; The fact that Cormier fingered the wrong guy is unfortunate for Doan, but the league missed an opportunity to make a stronger, clearer statement (both about their finding re: Doan and their policy regarding hateful language)at the time.

I really think the English press dropped the ball here. They were able to downplay it because, hey, Coderre's a loose cannon, and most of the French press have it in for the league and English players anyway, right?

If you read the French sports press, you'll know that there's a great deal of diversity of opinion there. Gagnon's no Red Fisher (who is?), but I do think he's a good one, and I think he gets it right where others couldn't be bothered by pointing the finger not at Doan but at the failure of the league, and Hockey Canada for that matter, to send the right messages.

As to the Parliament wasting its time, well, it's not all of Parliament, it's the Official Languages Committee and a couple of questions in QP.