Thursday, November 01, 2007

Koivu: Un vrai Canadien

The media horde at the Bell Centre was larger than usual yesterday and that was to be expected the day after Quebec City lawyer Guy Bertrand branded Saku Koivu as a criminal for failing "to respect the right of Quebecers to be served in French."

In addition to the usual sports media, the gathering attracted the yahoos who couldn't tell the difference between a hockey puck and a pétanque ball, but are ready to attack a man who should be regarded as a national treasure.
There's unfortunately a real ugliness when it comes to language issues in Quebec, as a few zealots seek out platforms to attack people like Koivu for not conforming to their standards, what Hickey calls being 'un vrai Québécois.'

This entire story is an embarrassment given the lengths Koivu has gone to be a big part of the Canadiens organization. He's the team's captain, it's longest-serving player, and his battle with cancer turned into a crusade to help others, as the Saku Koivu Foundation fundraised millions to provide cancer-treating equipment to a local hospital.

Unfortunately by talking about this latest incident, you draw attention to such nonsense as what language Koivu addresses the fans in, so I'll keep this brief: Quebecers need to stop putting up with and supporting people like Bertrand, who stray so close to hate-mongering as to be intolerable.

No wonder free agents are avoiding Montreal.

Labels: ,

38 Comments:

At 1:12 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Bertrand is a racist. Simple as that. If an English person said that about a French person, they'd be vilified and subjected to a witch hunt like what happened with Shane Doan and that other loser Quebecois politician Denis Coderre.
I guess if you've spent 31 years turning your province into an economic backwater, then you don't have any other options than to rail against the English.
French has been rammed down our throats ever since Fidel Trudeau was our commie loving PM.
Where was Bertrand and the rest of the nationalists when it came time to save the Nordiques or buy the Canadiens?
Probably looking for another handout from Ottawa and the rest of Canada.
We understand Mr. Bertrand, the English are to blame for everything.
BTW, the Rest of Canada called
Have a referendum, you can leave anytime you want.

 
At 1:18 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

Racism runs both ways, judging from the above comment ...

Maybe Koivu should just address the media in his native Finnish, and let them interpret his comments for thier own audience.

 
At 1:53 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

I was unaware that Quebecois and "english" Canadian were races.

 
At 1:54 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous éric said...

As a Québécois who has lived in Ontario and British Columbia, I am unfortunately all too familiar with the kind of ignorance displayed by anonymous and Jes Gőlbez (see today's post).

Anyway, there are a lot of people in the Canadiens organization - Guy Carbonneau for one - who will confirm that Koivu does in fact speak French. I even saw a short interview with his French teacher last year on a local TV network. Carbo said to Radio-Canada this morning that Saku is just too intimidated to speak in French with the Montréal sports media. And I don't blame him. At this point, he's been so stigmatized - or traumatized - that he'll probably never speak a word of French again.

 
At 2:00 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger P said...

"Racism runs both ways, judging from the above comment ..."

well said. this is an ugly affair, i'm glad it's been exposed and is being talked about. some of the stuff i'm hearing is really putting our image as a tolerant nation to the test though.

 
At 2:27 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger McLea said...

I don't know, is it too much ask the guy to learn the native language?

Being able to socialize with the locales in their native language is a pretty fundamental step towards integrating yourself into a community, so although I disagree with how Bertrand went about addressing this issue, I think he's argument, at its most basic level, is valid.

Personally, I'd like to think that if I lived in a foreign country that I would make every effort possible to master the native language. Not only would it make day to day life easier, but if my world travels have taught me anything, it's clearly the best ways to integrate yourself into the local community. Even the French, who were quick to mock my usage of a bastardized version of their language (I was taught my Quebecois teachers throughout my formative years), would always let me know that they appreciated the fact that I addressed them in their native tongue.

 
At 2:32 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> I don't know, is it too much ask the guy to learn the native language? <<

He is. He's doing exactly that. He's just too intimidated to speak it in public or in front of large crowds.

Some people pick up languages faster than others. I'm sure you could move to Finland and be confidently directing light operas in Finnish within a month, but not everyone is as skilled.

 
At 2:33 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

As a fan of the Canadiens all my life growing up in remote rural Saskatchewan, I just roll my eyes when these stories come up. It's not the English/French language issues that really rile me, it's the idea that somehow the privately owned Montreal Canadiens belong to a specific nationality. No doubt the history of the Habs is filled with amazing Quebecois talent, but any team anywhere will try and attract local talent if they can to their organization.

Saku is all class, and saying his actions are offensive shows how completely removed Bertrand is from reality. To rally against the captain of a sports team for failing to be completely fluent in 3 languages is about as ridiculous as it gets. And Bertrand mentioning that Saku is married to a French speaking woman brings up the old anti-immigrant "stealing our women/imposing their way of life" argument that's always bubbling under the surface.

I don't have any issues with the language of the city and province where the Canadiens play. Heck, it's a huge advantage to me personally as a fan. It allowed the Canadiens to sign a national cable broadcast deal with RDS, which allows me to see every Habs game as part of my basic cable package all the way over here. And I've learned way more of the language because of watching RDS than I ever did taking French from Grade 1 through high school.

Maybe something got lost in Bertrand's translation, but his comments come off as way more offensive than Saku introducing his teammates to a bilingual crowd in the one of the audience's two languages he's most comfortable speaking.

 
At 2:34 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger McLea said...

He is. He's doing exactly that. He's just too intimidated to speak it in public or in front of large crowds.

I didn't know that, my apologies. I was under the impression that he was like Vlad Guerrero, and just couldn't be bothered to learn the language.

 
At 2:38 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

McLea, Montreal is a bilingual community. Saku chose to learn (first) the language that was more common in his environment, namely being a hockey player. Which is also one of the languages of the community he lives in.

Should Joe Sakic have not spoken any English and be forced to speak only French when he was captain of the Quebec Nordiques? Does anyone even remember if Sakic could speak French? Quebec City is virtually an all French speaking city.

 
At 2:45 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

I don't know, is it too much ask the guy to learn the native language?

I was under the impression that English is a native language in Montreal. When franco-Queebeckers learn it, then I'll condemn Koivu for not branching out and adding a dying language to his trilingual repertoire.

As for all the thin skins jumping on anonymous No. 1, what did he say that wasn't fact?
Anon suggests that if Bertrand's shoes were on an anglophone's foot, he'd be vilified. And then the commenters on this board prove the point. As if the Doan experience weren't enough evidence.
Nationalist, racist franco-kaybeckers have turned a once-thriving economic melting pot into a stagnant, racist welfare state.
Official bilingualism was jammed up our @zzes by Trudeau, who publicly stated his preference for Castro over the Americans.
Where were the nationalists when it came time to save the Nords?
Let's have a referendum vote in the Rest of Canada. What's everybody afraid of?

 
At 2:49 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger McLea said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 2:49 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger McLea said...

Look, anyone who has ever lived in a French community should know how protective the French are of their language and culture. A great way to be ostracized by the community is to refuse to make an effort to speak their language. If Koivu has made the effort, and simply isn't comfortable speaking French in public, then that's an entirely different issue. But you'd have to pretty naive to think that you can live in a French community, never bother to learn the language, and never hear about it.

But if there's an impression out there that Koivu can't speak French, then the only thing that surprises me about this whole affair is the fact that it didn't happen sooner.

 
At 3:00 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

Not to pick a fight over split hairs, but Montreal isn't a french community. It's a bilingual community.
And since nobody's brought it up. The fans aren't complaining, to their credit. It's a douchebag politician who is trying to make a big deal out if it, which is not surprising. Maybe we should be questioning why the Montreal media has picked up this ball and run with it. What's next, trying to catch Koivu coming out of the shower, so that the media can report whether he shaves his nether regions?

 
At 3:03 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Jay said...

I guess Koivu should reconsider that post-NHL career in Quebec politics.

And the first post is hilarious. I can just picture Anonymous mashing at his keypad furiously, furrowing his brow in a vein attempt to understand the situation...then clicking 'Preview' and thinking "This is undoubtedly a well constructed position and an accurate portrayal of 30 years of Quebec-ROC reality."

 
At 3:11 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Jonathan said...

I though that Mr. Hickey did a good job of villifying Bertrand in the article, so I won't add to it.
As for the argument "you're a criminal if you fail to serve the public in one of the two official languages" it's obviously silly, especially when you consider that Koivu's service to the community (his hockey-playing service, I mean, not his excellent philanthropic work) is done on the ice, where, I'm fairly sure, a complete mute with equal talent could perform similar skills. Koivu's language should be unrelated to his hockey-playing. Period.
Oh, and for Mr. Anonymous, who said "French has been rammed down our throats ever since Fidel Trudeau was our commie loving PM." it was actually Lester B. Pearson who introduced official bilingualism, and I've found that, despite being schooled in Canada, I've never had French "rammed down my throat".

 
At 3:14 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Steve said...

I was under the impression that English is a native language in Montreal. When franco-Queebeckers learn it, then I'll condemn Koivu for not branching out and adding a dying language to his trilingual repertoire.

I think French only qualifies as a dying language if you believe that the world is on its way to being unilingually English speaking. I can't actually think of any languages that are appreciably more entrenched and secure in their places in the world. Possibly Spanish, but thats about it.

Official bilingualism was jammed up our @zzes by Trudeau,

That's funny, since it enjoyed majority support in English Canada at the time of its introduction, since every political party with representation in the House at the time supported it, since every political party with current representation in the House supports it, and since Canadians' support of it has only become more entrenched during the last thirty-five years.

...who publicly stated his preference for Castro over the Americans.

Cite sources or retract.

(Oh, and lest anybody conclude that by criticizing this clown I'm somehow supportive of Bertrand: I'm not. I agree with the prevailing sentiments of this comment section. But as an anglophone, anti-French bigotry by anglophones upsets me much more than anti-English bigotry by francophones, because it reflects badly on a group to which I belong.)

 
At 3:18 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Steve said...

it was actually Lester B. Pearson who introduced official bilingualism

Actually, no. Pearson struck the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, which recommended official bilingualism. Trudeau's government was the one that translated the recommendations into law. I certainly agree with your points, though.

 
At 4:01 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous S said...

OK... I'm an American but this whole issue of language interests me considering I study languages (in fact, I'm writing my senior thesis on language division in Canada).

My question is: Koivu has been the captain for HOW LONG NOW?! I understand what Bertrand is trying to say, but why wasn't he saying it five+ years ago, since I'm sure Koivu was using his English then too. It seems stupid to manipulate the current (or possibly always underlying) animosity for political gain.

The person that commented on Sakic makes a valid point, as does the person that considers what the situation would be like if the shoe were on the other foot. I can't imagine what kind of stuff would go down if the US mandated Spanish as well... oh my. It really sounds like this circle of language debates will continue indefinitely. Which will, at the very least, give me time to brush up on my Canadian history.

 
At 4:28 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Saku understands language issues pretty well since he is from bilingual country.

Only five million people in the world speak Finnish so learning another language is kind of must if you ever plan to travel outside of your country.

Saku graduated from high school which means that he had to take at least other languages in his courses.

Saku took English and Swedish. Now he is fluent in Finnish and English which is a good start. He can get by in Swedish and in French but giving interviews in those two languages would be tough.

Saku doesn't have Francophone wife but Finnish lady who speaks decent French. Their children are in French kindergarten.

If a great hockey player can get by with four different languages he should be applauded and used as an example for Canadian kids.

If Saku can play in the NHL and be captain of it's greatest team ever while fin(n)ishing his high school and speaking four languages what's your excuse to drop-out from school.

 
At 5:32 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Matt D said...

This issue has become a big deal right now because of Bertrand, but it's actually been floating around for a while. The Quebec equivalents of Don Cherry bring it up every once in a while on 110% and in La Presse. And yes, they call him 'unilingual', which, as others have pointed out, is off by two or three langauges. One La Presse columnist called him "the worst captain in Habs history." (Pierre 'Tin Man' Turgeon was captan, for crying out lound.)

As for why it's blown up now, it's because the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on Reasonable Accomodation is going on, which is a good idea, in some ways, but is also, quite literally, an invitation for anyone with a half-baked xenophobic opinion on anything to rant in front of the TV cameras. Bertrand made his comments there, and, since the Commission is a big story in the news everyday, it got picked up.

The ROC shouldn't feel too high and mighty about this: if we had an open invitation for anyone with an opinion on immgrants to talk in front of TV cameras in English Canada, the results would be pretty ugly.

Oh, and Bertrand is pretty widely viewed as a complete and utter tool in Quebec.

 
At 5:41 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous twain said...

Steve:

Bilingualism has always been a sore spot in English Canada, supporty of the _national_ parties notwithstanding. I don't want to bother citing academic sources--the point is generally conceded in the literature. Trudeau was able to institute bilingualism officially by changing its partner term in the Commission--"biculturalism"--to "multiculturalism."

In any event, the desire for a team captain to serve the audience in French, in an officially French province, is not exactly absurd. I realize Koivu is Finnish, but, then, why Koivu as captain? Like it or not, the Canadiens are a public symbol for French Canada, and the preservation of the French language is the surest means for preserving this culture. Considering the Canadiens' business entails playing off their unique place in this culture--and that is worth serious coin, no doubt--can they really protest too loudly at such "requests"?

 
At 5:53 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Steve said...

Bilingualism has always been a sore spot in English Canada, supporty of the _national_ parties notwithstanding.

Bilingualism has been a sore point among a pretty vocal minority of English Canadians. Most of us, I feel quite confident in saying, are either supportive or indifferent. Saying (accurately) that a vocal minority of anglophone Canadians oppose official bilingualism (I've actually got a book called "Bilingual Today, French Tomorrow: Trudeau's Master Plan and How it Can be Stopped"), is very different from saying that bilingualism was shoved down English Canadians' throats. In fact, bilingualism was democratically enacted with the support of a majority of English-speaking MPs and with the support of a majority of the English speaking public. If it was shoved down our throats, then the Conservative government's tax cuts have similarly been shoved down our throats, since there's a vocal minority that opposes them, too.

I don't want to bother citing academic sources--

That's fine. My request for sources was in response to Art Vandelay's statement that Trudeau publicly said he preferred Castro to the Americans, which is both false and absurd.

Trudeau was able to institute bilingualism officially by changing its partner term in the Commission--"biculturalism"--to "multiculturalism."

He did this, certainly. I don't agree that that move was critical to his ability to get bilingualism through, but now we're entering the territory of historical minutiae, which wasn't my intention. I just didn't want to let anti-francophone bigotry go unchallenged.

In any event, the desire for a team captain to serve the audience in French, in an officially French province, is not exactly absurd. I realize Koivu is Finnish, but, then, why Koivu as captain? Like it or not, the Canadiens are a public symbol for French Canada, and the preservation of the French language is the surest means for preserving this culture. Considering the Canadiens' business entails playing off their unique place in this culture--and that is worth serious coin, no doubt--can they really protest too loudly at such "requests"?

The problem with Bertrand's comments is that they were designed to raise an issue where none existed. Koivu has embraced French-speaking Montréal, to the point of enrolling his kids in French kindergarten and making French his *fourth* language. French-speaking Montréal has embraced Saku Koivu. Trying to drive a wedge through this is purely destructive.

Now, if you want to ask why Ken Dryden, who now wants to be Prime Minister, never bothered to learn French all those years he was with the Habs, that would be a fair question.

 
At 6:29 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous stephen said...

Sure feels like the base and crass Bertrand is being opportunistic. It sometimes also feels that many of us English Canadians, understanding the mouse sleeping beside an elephant parable, are ok with being protective over English Canadian culture in the face of the US behemoth, but show no similar empathy or understanding whatsoever for Québec, in a much more tangible battle, the ability to understand and communicate in a language the other side is telling them is a dead language. I’d be incredulous if the shoe were on the other foot, we wouldn’t act the same way.

Confirming the old saying that Canada, while it exists in practice, couldn’t possibly exist on paper

 
At 6:32 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Koivu did not have a choice, to simplify matters, in Quebec you must enroll your children in French school unless you were not educated in Enlgish in Canada or you must enroll them in private school. I have dealt with mnay immigrants to Canada that have learned English in another province and then had to transfer their children from English to French school when they moved into Quebec.

The point is Koivu is multi-lingual, lives in the off-season in Finland, spends his working day with Anglophones and is on travel in English speaking parts of North America for half the season. It would be culturally sensitive for him to learn French, but the most important thing is for him to light the lamp whether it is red or rouge.

 
At 6:50 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger P said...

Hey James, just thinking about the post you had early in the season about the importance of divisional wins to make it to the playoffs, as I'm looking at the upcoming schedule for the Canadiens: 14 games in November, with 11 being against division opponents. Could this make or break their season?

Oh and a quick note on Twain's "I realize Koivu is Finnish, but, then, why Koivu as captain?" which is so foolish as to be unbelievably uneducated. Here's a few reasons to help you figure things out:
1. He's a leader on and off the ice.
2. He's an inspiration to his teammates and all Habs fans, young and old. He beat cancer, and was playing professional-caliber hockey a year later, enough said.
3. He's a pretty good hockey player, you may have heard.

 
At 7:23 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Frank said...

James when you posted this story why didn't you put it in its proper context. This is NOT a story about English Canadian - French Canadian language issues.

This is about IMMIGRATION and REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION in the Province of Quebec. And the same issues are playing out in Western Canada where Chinese and South Asian immigrants refuse to learn and speak English - and in the US where Spanish speaking immigrants refuse to learn and speak English. Every day Lou Dobbs rants and raves on CNN about Spanish speaking immigrants (yes, even the legal ones) who refuse to learn English and are trying to turn the US into a bilingual nation like Canada!

This story has been picked up by the local sports talk shows in Vancouver and of course all the red necks (including some who have already posted here) are out bashing Quebec. What is ironic, is that they make the same arguments as Betrand when it comes to immigrants in their own cities. Let me give you an example.

In Richmond (a suburb of Vancouver) we have a very large shopping centre owned by Chinese Canadians where all the signs are in Chinese, all the staff are Chinese and no one speaks English. If you are not Chinese you are discouraged from shopping there, as few staff will speak English to you.

Now, all of the red necks out here - including the same sports talk radio hosts - are upset because these immigrants refuse to speak English to them. Yet on the other side they condemn Bertrand as a red neck because he expects immigrants in Quebec to speak French. Pretty ironic huh?

Again, this isn't about English - French. This is about IMMIGRATION and REASONABLE|ACCOMMODATION which we are all struggling with throughout all of North America and Europe as well.

I would bet that many people in Finland are upset with the level of immigration in recent years and that immigrants are not learning Finnish and adopting the Finnish culture.

 
At 7:51 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Steve said...

You make some good points, Frank. However, I think this is also about English-French because
i. the protective impulses that lead guys like Bertrand to complain about Koivu are exactly the same ones that are at play in the English-French stuff, and
ii. as we've seen in this comment thread, there are a lot of anglophones who react to this by saying "oh, those xenophobic Québécois, why don't they just get their own country?" or something to that effect.

So at its base, it's about reasonable accomodation vs. cultural protectionism in the face of immigration. But you don't need to scratch too deep to hit the same stuff as has been played out hundreds of times since Confederation and before.

 
At 7:58 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

Steve,
Since you're in denial about Pierre Elliot Castro:
http://archives.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/americas/10/03/canada.trudeau.02.ap/
In a pre-Internet world, you'd get away with your bluff, but that was too easy.
For good measure, the Government has archived online Trudeau's introduction of the Official Languages Bill:
http://www.collectionscanada.ca/primeministers/h4-4066-e.html
If you're seriously under the delusion that the french language has a future:
http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=fra
and
http://www.krysstal.com/spoken.html
10th overall and dead last among the empire-building countries (unless you count the Holy Roman Empire as an actual German empire), in which case French is the second-last language among languages with alleged global reach.
But I guess it's a lot easier to type "bigot" than to type in a couple of easy search terms on Google and hit Search.

 
At 8:07 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

As for your implied unanimity of support for official bilingualism:
http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/bilingualism-in-canada/support-and-opposition.html

 
At 8:17 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Steve said...

Since you're in denial about Pierre Elliot Castro:
http://archives.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/americas/10/03/canada.trudeau.02.ap/
In a pre-Internet world, you'd get away with your bluff, but that was too easy.


Yeah, I guess it is pretty easy in this internet age to dig up an article that mentions that Trudeau and Castro got along well. Unfortunately, that's not what I asked you to substantiate. What I asked you to substantiate was the allegation that Trudeau "publicly stated his preference for Castro over the Americans." Which kind of isn't supported in any way by the article you linked to.

10th overall and dead last among the empire-building countries (unless you count the Holy Roman Empire as an actual German empire), in which case French is the second-last language among languages with alleged global reach.

Yes, French is the tenth most spoken language in the world. If we assume that any language not ranked among the top nine is a dying language, then you're correct that French is dying. And so too are Japanese, German, Vietnamese, etc. Unfortunately, that's a completely insane assumption.

As for your implied unanimity of support for official bilingualism:

Funny, I didn't realize that saying "Bilingualism has been a sore point among a pretty vocal minority of English Canadians." is implying unanimity.

 
At 8:17 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous twain said...

1. Part of the problem here is: what constitutes a leader off the ice? If you don't speak the language of the majority of your fans, is this an off ice hindrance? Gainey says it is, and Koivu even agrees. It might not be on the ice, or to the other players, but the Canadiens are also a business. If I was "CEO", yes, I'd prefer a francophone. He'd help "lead" the club to more sweater sales.

2. I'm glad he beat cancer, but this really isn't a qualification for captaincy. Inspirational, sure, it is, and this a kind of qualification, but not sufficient. So that doesn't do away with the question: who should we elect captain? The idea that the question should never enter the heads of management is what is "foolish."

3. Well, I don't think Koivu is that great a hockey player to be honest, and certainly not the best Canadiens' player. The argument is really that he is "good enough" that the other intangibles put him over the top. It has some credence, but it is not like it takes the question off the table.

I'm not even suggesting Koivu should not be captain--only that there was choice involved, and thus those making the choices can be evaluated for their decisions.

 
At 8:18 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous twain said...

oops, the last comment was in reply to p.

 
At 8:58 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger P said...

Twain:

Well you're point was implying that his captaincy should be questionned because he's Finnish and not, and I'm just assuming this part, Quebecois.

This is an age-old argument that we could have until we're both blue in the face, but I never understood why the captain of the Montreal Canadiens should be from Quebec, or should be the top point-scorer. The C on a captains chest isn't meant to denote the most talented player on the team. As long as he is a good person, puts forward an honest effort every night, and helps the team win, I don't see the problem with a player from any nationality being the team's captain.

But I see what you're getting at: from a business sense, the Canadiens, with a huge part of their market being French-speaking, would benefit from a French-speaking spokesperson. And that makes sense, although I'm not sure it's as important as it sounds. The team and media have certain go-to guys who speak French, and it's healthy to have more than just one voice coming from the dressing room.

The other thing not to forget is that being a hockey player, and specificaly being a captain, is Koivu's job. And his workplace is almost entirely English. Like someone else mentionned, in the dressing room and on the ice, almost everything is in English, not to mention he's on the road half the year.

The bottom line is that no one in Quebec, and more importantly in the Canadiens fan-base, really cares that Koivu doesn't speak French with the media. Most of them know he speaks limitted French and understand. They respect the man for what he does do well.

This is just the case of a non-issue being made to seem important, and the voice of a certain few crazies being given too much attention.

It does, however, open the window to an existing problem that maybe isn't faced enough.

 
At 9:03 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Marl said...

[Bertrand mode on]

As a Finnish speaking Finn who lives in a bilingual (Finnish-Swedish) city where the hockey game announcements are in both languages, I'm thoroughly insulted by Canadian and other foreign hockey players who can spend years here without showing enough respect for our culture to learn fluent Swedish. I'm sick and tired of players only addressing the public in Finnish... uh, they CAN all speak fluent Finnish, right? ... right?

[Bertrand mode off]

In reality, and to put this in a similar but oh so different context, I know a couple of foreign players who have learned a little bit of Finnish and one who can speak a bit of Swedish, but he can't speak Finnish at all. So to my knowledge, not one of even the long time players has learned even the basics of the two official languages. In fact, Preds prospect Oliver Setzinger is the only one that I know whose Finnish could be described as fluent. He could be mistaken for a native speaker, though, so at least we've had one guy who's only shown contempt for half of our culture. Just kidding.

 
At 2:20 AM, November 02, 2007, Blogger DrFrankLives said...

I spent a year in Montreal. I spoke French and English when I was there.

Let me say this to Mr. Koivu:

Venez ici a la Caroline. You'd fit right in, and nous sommes fatigues de watching you put the puck in the back of our net.

Oh, and our redneck politicians speak redneck. You can ignore them too.

 
At 7:47 AM, November 02, 2007, Anonymous MG said...

Long time reader, first time poster. Frank is dead on target: it's was never about french vs english until Guy Bertrand came in. The provincial government organized the Bouchard-Taylor Commission about reasonnable accomodation, and of course it quickly turned into a freak show where every redneck can show how intolerant he is. And then came Guy Bertrand at this commission, always in the search for more spotlight. Being a french-canadian in Montreal, I can confirm what Matt D said: Guy Bertrand is considered by most of Quebec's population as a clown whose sole purpose in life is being talked about. And then of course our "excellent" sport journalists took this clown's words and built a huge story around that, because searching for a real story is too hard for them. Most Habs fans don't care if Koivu speaks french, english, finnish, tagalog or deaf sign language... as long as he's good on the ice (and he was yeasterday).

 
At 11:45 AM, November 02, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

"Salut. Ici Saku Koivu. Voici mon equipe."
"Vous etes nos partisans. La ville est hockey."

Recorded two weeks ago, played last night as the introduction. Leads team to incredibly convincing victory, helping with a great goal and a slick assist.

Case closed. Move on.

 

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