Quebec officials launch attack at Hockey Canada over pronunciation of Francophone players names

Hockey Canada was widely criticized Wednesday after a news report indicated a public address announcer at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea was told by the national governing body to stop using French pronunciations for the names of some Canadian players.

Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said she was “extremely surprised” by Hockey Canada’s position, while Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard called it “deplorable” and “ridiculous.”

A story in Le Journal de Montréal said Sébastien Goulet, the French-speaking PA announcer at the Gangneung arena at the Winter Games, was told by a Hockey Canada official to stop using French pronunciations for Team Canada players Derek Roy, Rene Bourque and Marc-André Gragnani.

On Tuesday, Hockey Canada responded to the article with a statement saying player names like Roy and Bourque should be pronounced the way they say it themselves, rather than using the French pronunciations. Roy and Bourque are common names in Quebec.

Joly said her office was “on the file” and would work with the office of Sports Minister Kirsty Duncan in order to get Hockey Canada to change its policy.

She said Hockey Canada’s decision was “highly questionable” and added that “we always have to affirm the important of the French language.”

Is the word “important” or “importance”. Ah, who cares, that’s English right?

Couillard said, “as francophones, we need to object to this and to protest this strongly.”

“I am waiting for Hockey Canada to rectify the situation immediately. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Pascal Bérubé, a Parti Québécois member of the legislature, said he was outraged.

“It’s insulting,” he said. “It’s a lack of respect. Especially as French is an official language at the Olympics.”

What? Politicians in Quebec now want to tell players how to pronounce their names? And if they don’t pronounce them the way Quebec wants, then Quebec is going to create an international incident? This is ridiculous!

A player’s name should always be announced the way the player wants it announced. It’s his name. Quebec doesn’t own it and Quebec shouldn’t dictate how it can be pronounced. And Quebec should never be allowed to alter someone’s name.

But this is Quebec. This is the same province that once had a government that was bound and determined to leave Canada. But the separatist Parti Quebecois suffered a crushing defeat in the 2014 provincial election with the Liberals returning to power.

So maybe it’s sour grapes.

But the position that’s really questionable here is Joly’s. She’s a minister of our national government.

Maybe, because she’s Heritage Minister, she feels she has to go to great lengths to protect the French heritage in Quebec, even if it means destroying the name of one of its prominent citizens.

But the public is having a lot of fun with this. On the Global News report on the subject, public commenters are going after Joly.

“Stupidest thing I’ve ever heard next to Trump wanting to arm all teachers with guns,” writes one commenter.

“At least, we’re not discussing the pros and cons of assault rifles,” comments another.

“This one has gone totally off the tracks,” says yet another.

It appears it is Quebec going totally off the tracks….again!

 

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Jeff Wilkinson

About the Author: Jeff Wilkinson

Jeff Wilkinson is a retired Canadian journalist who covered a wide range of political stories over a 35-year career in newspapers and radio. He was at Place du Canada in Montreal in 1995 for the Unity rally on the eve of the Quebec referendum. He interviewed former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and numerous cabinet ministers, provincial premiers and many other key political figures both provincially and federally. Most recently he served in the Press Operations Crews at the 2015 Pan Am Games and 2017 Invictus Games.