Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Michel Therrien, proud Canadian
Michel Therrien made what might have been his most profound statement as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens yesterday, and it had nothing to do with his hockey team. Therrien told reporters that watching Canada win the men's and women's hockey gold medals at the Sochi Olympics made him proud to be a Canadian.
That would be garden variety patriotism coming from most Canadian hockey coaches, but for a francophone Quebecer in a prominent position with Quebec's most revered cultural institution to call himself a proud Canadian must have singed every ear hair on even the hairiest-eared Quebec separatist. Over the last 25 years, a majority of francophone Quebecers have been successfully cowed by a minority of fervent nationalists into keeping whatever loyalty they might feel for Canada to themselves. About the only public display of affection for Canada that routinely takes place among French Quebecers is when they unabashedly sing the national anthem en masse out loud at the Bell Center - a curious phenomenon that only resurfaced in recent years. Whenever an individual francophone Quebecer embraces their Canadianism publicly, it's usually someone like Therrien who's spent a good portion of his life in other cities, provinces and countries and isn't susceptible to the insular nationalist mentality.
Still, for someone of Therrien's stature in French Quebec to call himself a proud Canadian takes courage. It shouldn't, but it does. Good for him. Quebec needs more Canadians like him.