Local satirist and vlogger Abdul Butt went down to cover the Movement Québec français demonstration last Saturday night in front of the Bell Centre. As one might expect, he uncovers that the group is composed of old people fighting a linguistic battle from over forty years ago. Plus there was some chanting that seemed to indicate the crowd was interested in the NHL conducting more of its affairs in French, and further that it would be nice if the Habs hired more Québecois players, something made rather difficult by the way players are selected, salary caps, individual free agency, the NHL draft etc. I took this as another sign those demonstrating were out of touch with reality. It’s almost as if they have no knowledge professional ice hockey has become an internationally lucrative entertainment industry spanning a good chunk of the Northern Hemisphere and that Québec is not the sole provider of hockey talent.
I’ve seen a common sentiment repeated often in various comment forums online; could you imagine if a bunch of English-speaking Canadians in Calgary showed up in front of the Saddledome to protest the number of Russians or Francophones in the NHL, and that individual teams would perform better if they were unilingual, perhaps even monocultural?
I typically hate these kinds of comparisons, because they are all too often used inappropriately or out of context to such a degree that the comparison is absurd to begin with. The French language must be preserved and promoted, inasmuch as French, Aboriginal and Commonwealth culture should be preserved and promoted as elements of our shared cultural experience. This has absolutely nothing to do with the Habs or the NHL.
And if you find the analogy above distasteful, perhaps racist, then you’re probably right. And therefore, Québecois have to put their collective foot down, and tell these old fools they’re no longer welcome in our integrationist, cosmopolitan city. We don’t need to tolerate intolerance.
I’d probably have been upset if I had been there, so big time kudos to Mr. Butt for seeing this for what it ultimately was and poking a lot of fun at it. For what it’s worth, it seems as though some of these old fogeys got a kick just by getting out of the house. At least one seems to have caught on that their complaint maybe isn’t as serious as they were initially hoping.
Final point – true to form, several people interviewed didn’t seem offended in the least with Mr. Butt’s slightly exaggerated Anglophone accent, and were keen enough to speak in English too. We’ve come a long way from the drive-by arguments and insults of the 1980s and 1990s.