The Habs Discriminate Against French-Speakers

with 178 comments


Canada has always been preoccupied with preventing French-speaking people from handling numbers.  Until well into the 20th century, the Minister of Finance’s job in the Québec government could only be given to an English-speaking gentleman and when francophones in Québec demanded the end of dicriminatory practices and their share Montréal’s many high finance and management jobs in the 1960’s and 70’s, English-Canada’s very prudent and rational reaction was to move Canada’s entire financial sector 300 miles west to Toronto.

It’s still going on today with the slow but steady purge of anyone who’s ever been associated with la Bourse de Montréal from the new “merged” Stock Exchange.

Sure, there are very good reasons for this.  Business and Management are English words, aren’t they?  And isn’t it a man who got his MBA at Québec’s City’s Université Laval who is responsible for the near-collapse of capitalism we just went through?

But no.  The truth is much more sinister.  French-speakers are kept away from the numbers because if they took a closer look, they would discover that French-speaking hockey players in the NHL are undervalued and underpaid!

This is the dark secret uncovered by Marc Lavoie, an economist at the University of Ottawa.  Using rigorous statistical analysis, the scientist discovered that francophone players systematically scored 10 more points per season compared with English-speaking players drafted in the same round, which either means that there is discrimination against Francos or that participation really is more important than winning…

Mr. Lavoie also established that francophone defencemen earn 25% less than Anglophones with comparable statistics.

What’s even more interesting is that Le Canadien de Montréal, that venerable institution that turned the mythology of a scrappy band of French farm boys with only third grade education but big hearts into one of the most valuable sports franchise in the world, did not – repeat not – do a better job of hiring francophones.  Even the Nordiques systematically gave Franco’s the shaft.

But then, Mr. Lavoie is a francophone.  For sure he got his math all wrong.

UPDATE: Prof Lavoie kindly sent the AngryFrenchPeerReviewMob a copy of the study:


Written by angryfrenchguy

May 27, 2009 at 2:17 pm

178 Responses

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  1. … and again, I forgot to enter my name…


    May 29, 2009 at 10:41 am

  2. Well, I guess I’ll have to take the blame for the RDS reference… Pleading guilty, but I think that the lack of info in AFG’s article has lead to that. I would have loved to debate on Dr. Lavoie’s comparisons, but I don’t think we’ll be able to see them. It therefore becomes hard to assess the credibility of Lavoie’s and AFG’s claims.


    May 29, 2009 at 10:46 am

  3. Hey, I’ve been trying to bring it back to the subject of Francophones in the NHL. What about my comparison of habs draft picks? Any thoughts on such a talked-about subject in Quebec sports media?


    May 29, 2009 at 11:06 am

  4. How about “tout le monde en parle”

    Numerous jabs and negative comments about english canada and anglos on that times by the hosts …and at times by the participants. Definately an undercurrent that Quebec is far superior to English Canada from a cultural and social perspective.


    May 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm

  5. So you watch “Tout le monde en parle” ?

    I didn’t know your french was that good to understand those “numerous jabs and negative comment”….

    You definetly don’t know what you’re talking about. I watch that show regularly, never heard anything like that.


    May 29, 2009 at 8:03 pm

  6. Guy A. Lepage is not Don Cherry.


    May 29, 2009 at 8:04 pm

  7. RoryBellows,

    “There were a total of nine instances where the Habs made the correct choice in drafting a non-Quebecer and only 3 where they should have taken the Quebecer. All others are considered equal, including some that are debatable, like Kostitsyn instead of Bernier.”

    I fail to understand your reasoning here.

    I don’t know if your draft picks chart is accurate or not but there are a lot of “equal” players in there. This means that. according to the chart, the Canadiens had plenty of chances to choose a Quebecer that had similar skills than a non-Quebecer, but they did not. Instead, the Canadiens took a non-Quebecer that had similar skills to a Quebecer that was available. That is discrimination. The Canadiens priority, if they can, is to choose a Montrealer and a Quebecer since the Canadiens play for Montreal and they are also the only NHL team that play for Quebec.

    You have not shut up those people who say that the Habs discriminate against francophones; instead, you have only added fuel to the fire. Assuming, of course, that your draft picks chart is accurate.


    May 29, 2009 at 9:13 pm

  8. You fail to understand my reasoning? You’re arguing that instead of taking an anglo who would never make it to the NHL they should have taken the francophone who would never make it to the NHL?? Who the fuck cares. We should just throw out each one of those cases as tehy are completely irreelevant.

    There are only 13 relevant decisions that we should be looking at. That is, 13 times where the Habs chose an anglo over a francophone and where having done the opposite would have yielded different results. Of those, 3 were mistakes, 10 were the right move. Do you understand now? I haven’t “added fuel to teh fire”. A strategy of favouring francophones is very clearly shown to not be a wise strategy.

    And what the fuck is with your accusations about my chart being inaccurate? If you doubt its accuracy, go check it out yourself instead of calling me a liar without basis. Asshole.


    May 29, 2009 at 10:57 pm

  9. Make that 12, not 13 relevant decisions. My bad.


    May 29, 2009 at 11:00 pm

  10. I should probably clarify something. Antonio may be under the impression that all those pairs of players who are equal are equally good.

    They’re not. They’re equally unemployed in the NHL, with the lone exception of Andrei Kostitsyn and Steve Bernier. And I was generous in granting Bernier equal status, frankly. All other **less entries have no bearing whatsoever on the results of the exercise.


    May 29, 2009 at 11:14 pm

  11. RoryBellows,

    calm down. If you persist in this attitude, I’m out.

    There are three things we need to consider:

    Quebecers have same skills as non-Quebecers
    Quebecers have less skills than non Quebecers
    Quebecers have more skills than non-Quebecers

    You only considered the last two. If the Habs picked non-Quebecers that have MORE skills than Quebecers, then that IS NOT discrimination since the Habs are picking the best player availaible. Fair enough.

    If the Habs picked non-Quebecers that have LESS skills than Quebecers, then that IS discrimination because they are bypassing the better player for the inferior one. You presented only 3 cases whereas the Habs should have taken the Quebecer, proving, in your eyes, that there is no discrimination against Quebecers by the Habs. To you, the case is closed.

    However, you forget the third case, namely, if the Habs picked non-Quebecers that have the SAME skills as Quebecers. That IS discrimination because the best player is still either a Quebecer or a non-Quebecer and yet, the Habs chose the non-Quebecer. Why not choose the Quebecer instead, since the Habs play in Montreal and Quebec. In the Draft chart, the Habs chose the non-Quebecer over the Quebecer numerous times. THAT IS DISCRIMINATION. What is your explanation on why the Habs did not simply choose the Quebecer that has the same skills as the non-Quebecer.

    You have not demonstrated, with your draft chart, that the Habs don’t discriminate against Quebecers. You demonstrated the opposite.

    “And what the fuck is with your accusations about my chart being inaccurate? If you doubt its accuracy, go check it out yourself instead of calling me a liar without basis. Asshole”

    I never said that your draft chart is inaccurate. But neither did I say that it was accurate either. I am taking a neutral position for reasons of caution. Explain how you came up with the relevant rankins of skills between a Quebecer and a non-Quebecer in the chart, then I can be better convinced that the chart is accurate.


    May 29, 2009 at 11:30 pm

  12. Let me explain again. All pairings of players who are considered equal are players who were never good enough to make the NHL. One may have been closer to making it than the other, but it doesn’t matter since neither had any effect on the team one way or the other.

    Of all the relevant cases, I used almost no subjective opinion in deciding who was the better player. In almost every case, one player has an NHL career and the other doesn’t. This is why I chose not to make a judgement on the Kostitsyn vs. Bernier decision, sinec that is the only case of two players who both have impactful NHL careers.

    Bottom line is when comparing two drafting strategies, the one the Habs have used and one that favours more francophone players, it is clear that the former has produced better results for the team. The latter would have resulted in 6 fewer NHL players over a 5 year period, which is fairly substantial.


    May 29, 2009 at 11:49 pm

  13. Forgot to hit the reply button. That was in response to Antonio on page 1.


    May 29, 2009 at 11:50 pm

  14. Sorry about that. I shouldn’t let the comments on this blog get to me, but they do. I’m quite stressed these days; just today I’m leaving for Poland and then Germany to attend a conference (being a francophone, I’m not very open to the world ;-) and have never been to Europe, so it’s quite a first for me). When coming back I should be less sensitive. I hope.

    But for the record, confusing “Japanese”, “Chinese” and “Korean” isn’t only done by francophone Quebecers (and it’s certainly not the reason why Asian people in Montreal look “nervous” and “heartbroken”, whatever that means and if it’s even true). I mean, they did a joke about it on King of the Hill: when Kahn first arrives in Arlen, everyone asks him if he’s “Chinese or Japanese”. (Of course, he’s Laotian.) That’s just standard ignorance among Westerners. And nothing specific about francophone Quebecers, who I don’t believe are any more ignorant than the average Westerner.


    May 30, 2009 at 7:49 am

  15. “You definetly don’t know what you’re talking about”

    Of course not, I am an anglo so how could I know anything!! Selon vous.


    May 30, 2009 at 11:05 am

  16. @Antonio:
    “Why not choose the Quebecer instead, since the Habs play in Montreal and Quebec. ”

    You may have solved the riddle right there. Why should the team ever choose the local over the non-local? Give one good reason that isn’t just plain nationalistic rubbish. Maybe because locals would be willing to play for less money than someone coming from far away.


    May 30, 2009 at 1:45 pm

  17. «Numerous jabs and negative comments about english canada and anglos on that times by the hosts …»

    Care to provide examples ?


    May 30, 2009 at 3:22 pm

  18. Sorry, don’t take notes.


    May 30, 2009 at 4:29 pm

  19. why don’t you just list the French Canadian players who were invited? Who were they? Upon questioning most of the examples which were given in committee were false anyway. Sidney Crosby? They have him as an “example”, which is a false example. Who were they? Name them, please.


    May 30, 2009 at 4:33 pm

  20. Do you always assume everyone is either an ‘Anglo’ or”Franco’ or an ‘Allo’?
    Maybe you should take a Sign Language course and the maybe then you will realize not everybody who is intelligent can have a ‘voice’ in society.
    Imagine a life of no music, politics or religion?
    Canada has 2 ‘hearing’ languages that are ridicuously ‘Official’. Thanks to tunnel ‘hearies’ like you who discriminate against the Deaf.
    Remember that the OLA only favors one language group in Canada.Thanks to the hearies like Trudeau and Pearson. I wish they had a Deaf son and then they wouldnt be so stupid by bringing up an idea that came from socialites in the elite Rockcliffe neighborhoods in Ottawa.
    Let abolish the OLA and have NO Official languages in Canada. Gee… imagine making a religion Official?WW3?
    When will the other 92% of Canadians going to finally work in the Government in Ottawa???
    Linguistic Arpatheid?
    Stupid politics!
    Sorry about the negativity its just the way we Deaf are bitter towards the hearies.
    P.S. No I am not on drugs.
    Oh yeah just to let you know that I caught the Language Police in the Leamy Casino via lipreading.
    Question: Do lipreaders make better Intelligence officials than these weirdos? They all looked like a buch of cross-sexuals to me who can’t make up thier mind.
    Now you know you are not the most ‘Bitter’ society in our Country.

    Deaf Canadian

    May 30, 2009 at 5:51 pm

  21. Vinster

    I did not find any links to the actual study, that’s why I linked to other media reports. I heard about the study on radio-canada myself.

    For more information there is this thing called google. You type in words and it finds information on this vast network called the Internet that contains these words. Check it out.

    I typed in Marc Lavoie’s name and I found this:

    Click to access Lavoie-CV-sport.pdf


    May 30, 2009 at 6:36 pm

  22. Marc, you’re entirely right. But it is also true that in contrast to Toronto and Vancouver where visible minorities will outnumber whites within a decade, Montreal is still about 75% white. It has to be a bit harder to fit in and to have a sense of political power as an Asian here than in those cities.

    By the way, Vinster, congratulations on your upcoming wedding. That would perhaps explain why you’ve been learning Vietnamese, as you mentioned in earlier posts…

    囍 félicitations 囍


    May 30, 2009 at 8:37 pm

  23. RoryBellows

    “Of all the relevant cases, I used almost no subjective opinion in deciding who was the better player. In almost every case, one player has an NHL career and the other doesn’t. This is why I chose not to make a judgement on the Kostitsyn vs. Bernier decision, sinec that is the only case of two players who both have impactful NHL careers.”


    it is clear to me on what the draft chart is about. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    “Bottom line is when comparing two drafting strategies, the one the Habs have used and one that favours more francophone players, it is clear that the former has produced better results for the team. The latter would have resulted in 6 fewer NHL players over a 5 year period, which is fairly substantial.”

    The draft is a little like a lottery; there is luck involved on whether the player makes it to the NHL. These people could have made it to the NHL or not, given the right guidance. The fact that the Canadiens don’t often pick Quebecers during draft day is still a cause for concern.


    May 30, 2009 at 8:52 pm

  24. Here’s something else Google turned up from last year. It tells a similar sad story with the same cast of characters but a bit more context:


    May 30, 2009 at 9:06 pm

  25. en voici un de l’autre bord…

    Quebec singer calls CBC ‘racist’ after francophones cut from broadcast
    Editing decisions weren’t made out of disrespect, CBC counters
    Last Updated: Thursday, March 6, 2008 | 4:48 PM ET Comments24Recommend32CBC News

    Popular Quebec pop singer Claude Dubois has accused CBC-TV of exercising a “racist” attitude when it cut his performance and those of other francophones from its broadcast of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame annual gala.

    Dubois and Paul Anka were the two 2008 Modern Era inductees to the hall of fame during the March 1 gala in Toronto.

    Dubois performed a song and gave a bilingual thank-you speech in which he talked about Canada’s two solitudes and music’s universal appeal. Five of Dubois’s songs were among the 22 songs inducted during the gala.

    But the televised broadcast, which aired Monday night, did not include the francophone performances.

    This led to a tirade [sic] in a Quebec newspaper where Dubois proclaimed that francophone Quebecers are “like a stain for the anglophones of Toronto” and remain the “white Negroes” of America, an expression coined by author and former Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) member Pierre Vallières.

    In an interview with the Journal de Montréal, Dubois accused Toronto [sic] of being racist and anti-francophone.

    Later Dubois told the CBC’s French-language service he was so angry to discover his performance had been cut he would have taken a different approach to the honour.

    Quebec pop singer Claude Dubois is angry he was cut from a televised broadcast of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame’s annual gala, after being inducted along with Paul Anka and others.

    “That would have changed my speech,” he said in an interview with Radio-Canada. “I would have written a different speech than the one in which I talked about Shakespeare and Molière, and how music is international and that’s how we bridge our differences.

    “My speech would have been about the two solitudes, but who is being racist against whom.”

    Dubois said he was warmly welcomed by other English-speaking artists at the gala, including Anka, David Foster and Gordon Lightfoot.

    He said he doesn’t understand the decision to leave him out of the broadcast. “I don’t get why they would offer me this award if they didn’t want to see me perform.”

    Dubois told the Canadian Press that if the situation were reversed, people would be up in arms.

    “Imagine a gala where we invite several anglophone artists but we take them off the air because they’re anglophones,” he said. “We call that racism.”

    Dubois said the decision to leave out the francophone performances was an overtly political one, which sends a sinister message to Quebecers.

    “It goes beyond racism,” he said. “It’s a bit like saying we want Quebec without the Quebecers.”


    Mr. Raymond Gravel (Repentigny, BQ):
    I won’t do a long preamble. I’d like to know whether Claude Dubois would have been part of the show if he had sung in English.

    Mr. Richard Stursberg:
    Probably not, since he’s not very well known among anglophones. There was also the problem of Oscar Peterson’s death. The time was incredibly limited. You may reject that reasoning, but we decided not to include Claude Dubois’ performance in the show because he’s not very well known in English Canada and we were afraid people would change the channel.

    Mr. Raymond Gravel:
    How would you suggest that francophone singers from Quebec or elsewhere in Canada be made known? How can they be made known to anglophones if they are never shown because the anglophone audience doesn’t want to listen to them? Give me a recipe.

    Mr. Richard Stursberg:
    We’ve done many exchanges, but on radio. We have done programs that are—

    Mr. Raymond Gravel:
    I’m talking about TV, sir.

    Mr. Richard Stursberg:
    Yes, I understand. The best medium for music is radio, not television. We have created a number of radio programs that broadcast francophones. That’s no problem.

    Mr. Raymond Gravel:
    If it’s true that francophone singers are broadcast on English radio, why, now that they are known to the English audience, can’t they be included in an anglophone television show?

    Mr. Richard Stursberg:
    I believe I explained my reasoning a number of times. The best medium for music remains radio.

    Mr. Raymond Gravel:
    In that case, for the next hall of fame gala, don’t invite francophones. Why would francophones participate if they’re going to be cut from the show? It’s even offensive to them. Stop inviting them, tell them they’re not invited. Do a gala in English only.


    Mr. Richard Stursberg:
    There’s more than one gala show. It’s no problem having francophones and anglophones at the gala. The full three and a half hours of the gala were broadcast on Radio 2.

    Mr. Raymond Gravel:
    That’s the third time you’ve said that.

    Mr. Richard Stursberg:
    I understand, but we decided, given that there were 44 minutes available for television—

    Mr. Raymond Gravel:
    By the way, sir, it’s not true that there are no anglophone singers on Radio-Canada.

    Mr. Richard Stursberg:
    No. I said that Radio-Canada had decided not to broadcast the gala on television. That’s all I said. I respect the decision of my colleagues from Radio-Canada.

    Mr. Raymond Gravel:
    Had they broadcast the gala and cut out all of the anglophones and kept only the francophones, I’m not sure people would have accepted that.

    Mr. Richard Stursberg:
    I would have had no problem with that. I respect the fact that they know the francophone audience better than I do.

    Mr. Raymond Gravel:
    Sir, that’s one of the reasons why there’s a sovereignist movement in Quebec. Personally, I’m a sovereignist precisely because of behaviour like yours coming from anglophones. You aren’t helping to bring the two cultures together.


    May 30, 2009 at 11:08 pm


    Click to access 601322ar.pdf


    May 31, 2009 at 12:26 am

  27. Nothing to do with anglo, franco or pseudo whatever you want. You are not talking of something you experienced yourself cause you don’t speak french enough to understand ‘Tout le monde en parle” and I guess you don’t listen to it.


    May 31, 2009 at 2:55 am

  28. Here you go, kids. All, y’all had to do is ask. Which is exactly what i did and Monsieur Lavoie sent me a copie of his study:

    Click to access ajes-drafthockey-2003.pdf

    So get out your scientific calculators and unleash the power of peer reviewed science on this mother!


    May 31, 2009 at 11:41 am

  29. simple direct brilliant action – kudos agf.


    May 31, 2009 at 2:30 pm

  30. «Sorry, don’t take notes.»

    Understandable : I don’t take notes from shows I never watch either. Especially when they’re in a language I wouldn’t even understand.


    May 31, 2009 at 2:45 pm

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