Institutional Irrelevance

Last Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens announced the firing of Jacques Martin as head coach, and the promotion of Randy Cunneyworth as his interim replacement. Martin’s release was hardly a surprise; the hockey team has struggled this year, never truly owning a playoff berth and looking as though they might not by the end of the season. Whether you agree or disagree with the philosophy, when a team struggles the coach usually takes the blame for it. Martin’s fate was sealed as the team entered the holiday stretch stumbling and inconsistent, at best.

The anglophone Cunneyworth’s appointment has been met by a massive backlash of criticism from francophone fans, community and media. The Montreal Canadiens, they say, are an institution that represents French culture, and appointing a unilingual anglophone to lead the institution is tantamount to sacrilege. Some would say this is all a symptom of the religious devotion people have to a team with an incredibly long history, and some would say that even a sports team can be a part of a people’s identity when that lengthy history overlaps the prevailing currents that shaped the heritage of those people. Others would say they are just a team, and Cunneyworth just a coach, and winning is the only standard he should be held to. Nobody, however, would deny that Quebec has a habit of deconstructing every topic down to the level of language in the focused, self-involved defence of their “distinct culture,” whether the habit itself is ridiculous or not.
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Nobody Wants to be First

The Conservative government has announced today that they will not renew Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto Climate Change protocol, surprising, I would assume, no one. Canada signed on to Kyoto in 1998 and promptly did very little to actually address the commitment through successive Liberal and Conservative governments, and Stephen Harper has been a vocal critic of the policy, stating that cutting greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with Kyoto would be economic suicide. Given that the world’s worst polluters, the United States, China and India are not part of the agreement, Harper doesn’t believe we should be either. It’s all or nothing, we stand together or we walk away.

After all, if it’s not good enough for the dirtiest countries with the worst pollution records in the world, we can’t expect it to be any good for us, right? Rarified company we travel in…
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