The Canadian Curling Association is denying allegations that Quebec City lost its bid to host the 2008 Tournament of Hearts because of the province's language laws.
Quebec City had hoped to host the tournament to mark the city's 400th anniversary celebrations.
But in a memo leaked by the Quebec Associationof Curling, the Canadian federation addressed its concerns about language at the tournament. "We should discuss at greater length to evaluate the impact of Quebec's language laws on the event," wrote Warren Hansen, manager of event operations and media at the Canadian Curling Association.
The memo's excerpts were published Wednesday in Le Soleil, a Quebec City newspaper.
On Thursday, the Canadian Curling Association's chief executive officer defended the letter, claiming language was never a serious issue in Quebec City's bid, but rather one of several elements that concerned the tournament's organizers.
"Any issues we may have indicated relative to the language law was only to make sure that we were understanding it, so we could respect it," said Dave Parkes, in a telephone interview with CBC.
Venue undergoing renovations
The national association was worried about other aspectsof Quebec City's bid, including the proposed venue, the famedColisÃ©e, which is undergoing renovations, Parkes explained.
Given the national association's past experience at a previous tournament in Victoria, where construction crews were still putting the finishing touches on the venue during the first days of competition, organizers have learned their lesson."We'll only go into venues that are absolutely complete at the time of the bid," Parkes said.
Financial support for the tournament was a concern as well,he added, because there was no guarantee from municipal, provincial or federal government bodies that money would be made available.
Parkes said Quebec City's failed bid should not prevent it from trying to host other major curling competitions in the future. "We did encourage Quebec City to bid on subsequent events, and we have been hosting events in the province of Quebec," he said.
But the Quebec Association of Curling is skeptical about the national association's real motivation."We hope that [language] was just a detail, and not an element that prevented the association from picking us," said Marco Berthelot, the association's director general.
The Quebec Association receivedthe official response to its bidon July 31.
Upon learning of the memo, Parti QuÃ©bÃ©cois language critic LÃ©andre Dion described the failed bid as a snub to the province."Maybe it's ignorance, or maybe these people don't get out very much,"he said Wednesday.
Regina will host the 2008 tournament. The popular event is the qualifierfor professional Canadian women curlers who compete for a berth at the world championships.