Community reaction to the 'Montreal, en francais' protest
Fans filing into the Bell Centre on Saturday hoping for a Montreal Canadiens win were met by protesters with another goal in mind. They want the organization to be more French.
Several hundred Quebec nationalists, handing out miniature Quebec flags and chanting "Montreal, en francais," held a rally directly in front of the building.
The group was protesting the recent appointment of Randy Cunneyworth as head coach. He is the first Montreal head coach unable to speak French in 40 years.
"It shows a lack of respect for Canadiens fans," said Jean Archambault, who was wearing a sweater of Habs legend Maurice Richard.
A debate involving both hockey and the relationship between the English and French languages in Canada is sure to generate discussion on CBCNews.ca. Over 550 comments were posted on our story by Sunday afternoon.
Many readers disagreed with the protesters' tactics, asserting that the Montreal Canadiens should be more concerned about their win-loss record than the language skills or geographical heritage of its players and officials.
- "I live in Quebec, I have a French mother and an English father. Personally, I find it insulting how French extremists in Quebec are constantly complaining about the French language, how people don't respect it. This is not the general consensus in the province but as usual, the more extreme the group, the more media coverage they get.The idea of protecting a language is completely ridiculous. You can't protect it, you can only let it evolve. That is how we ended up with the languages we have today, if you heard somebody speaking old French or English, you would not understand it at all." - mcknighta
- "If you can only choose players from Quebec or France to play on your teams you will never succeed. Professionalism in any sport is not based on language skills." - Carl Ben
- "This is a stupid agenda. Let's keep the sport pure. First and foremost, it's about winning. That has nothing to do with what language you speak or where you come from." - MikeMacRae
- "What if the Habs were 40-0-0? I wonder if the coach's language skills and roster would be a concern." - JamesinCalgary
- "So lets not forget that this is a temporary coaching assignment...He has publicly stated that he will try to learn some French. Do you expect the guy to learn a whole language for a job that is likely to last until May?" - VoicesFOrReason
- "I think they have a point, it's about respect. They should have known better than to put a unilingual Anglo who can't communicate with his province in charge of a very symbolically important team, especially when everyone knows language is a touchy issue." - AlexMehta
- "The French are feeling disenfranchised of late. Come to think of it, so am I. The French feel that the government doesn't have their interests in mind with respect to their language laws. These are small concessions the Habs should concede. The Quebec people are fiercely proud. Give them these small demands. It hurts nobody." - mallius62
- "The direction professional hockey is going, most NHL teams stand for nothing but money. If Cunneyworth can't endear himself to the local fanbase, then he simply ISN'T the best man for the job. A lot of Montrealers' money went into the founding and growth of the Habs, and their team shouldn't simply be a money machine for the highest bidder. Winning's not everything." Aabattery
- "I agree. More Jean Leloup songs at the Bell Centre please. :)" - John R Smith
As always, thanks for the feedback.
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