01 November 2007

Disrespecting a Real Leader

There have been a few reports going around about a Quebec separatist attempting to smear Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu for his limited French-speaking capabilities. This is the type of item that exemplifies how some politicians will say or do anything in order to advance an agenda, and no doubt sits in the minds of regular people as to why they dislike politicians. Yes Koivu plays for a Quebec-based team that has a long and enduring legacy of being known as "the Flying Frenchmen," despite the fact that that heyday is long gone. This is a team that features players from all over the world: goaltenders from France and British Columbia; defencemen from Russia, the United States, B.C. again, Quebec, and Switzerland; forwards from Russia, the U.S., all over Canada, the Czech Republic, Quebec, Germany, and Belarus.
And, of course, Finland, where Koivu comes from. He didn't even speak English when he was drafted by the team in 1993. He's learned and mastered that language, which has certainly helped him become a true leader in Montreal, the mecca of hockey. He can communicate with all of his teammates and let them know what to do on the ice, with the media, and with the organization. Most importantly, he's been able to communicate with the sick children that he regularly visits at cancer wards in Montreal. He's raised over $5 million for a new MRI machine so that others can get the same top-notch medical care that he received when he was stricken with cancer in 2001. He is a prominent figure in the community, and an ambassador for the franchise that is beloved by the city.
Hearing some low-life politician looking for his fifteen minutes of fame embodies what is wrong with the Canadian body politic today. Anything is fair game, anything can and will be said in order to tar somebody and advance an agenda. Trashing Saku Koivu is not in the interest of the province of Quebec and it doesn't advance anybody's cause. It is being done solely to trash him and shame him because he doesn't speak three languages, the most important omission being French. He's a hockey player, not a linguist. His job is to put the puck in the net, not ensure that some politician's feelings are upset because he doesn't introduce the roster in the language of that politician's preference. It is shameful and despicable, which isn't all that surprising given the separatist agenda.

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