Habs sold. The Old English Families Still Own Montreal.
My nightly newscast was positive last night: Québec is unanimously rejoicing at the sale of the Canadiens de Montréal hockey team to the Molson family. Everyone from the Finance Minister to the leader of the sovereingtists Pauline Marois and the required passersby questioned on the street were overjoyed that the hockey team was bought by Québec money and for the, quote, right reasons.
Alright, I’ll take this one if no one else will.
What would be wrong with expressing some regret that the bid by Quebecor’s Pierre-Karl Péladeau and Céline Dion’s manager René Angelil was unsuccesful? Why is it not acceptable to aknowledge that the return of the Canadiens to francophone owners for the first time since Léo Dandurand, Louis Létourneau and Joseph Cattarinich bought the team for 11 500$ would have been an important symbolic moment, the beginning of the end of the economic inferiority of the French-speaking population of Québec?
Am I the only one to feel the politically correct insistance on describing the Molson brothers as just another from-around-the-corner Québécois family, without any qualification, sounds false? This is not the Johnsons from the Point, we’re talking about. We are talking about one of the great families of the Old Order that made it’s fortune when the French were good enough to fight Britain’s wars but not to sit on Molson’s board.
Now Geoffrey, Justin and Andrew deserve the benefit of the doubt and Montrealers will decide with time if they truly share their culture or not, but to call the Molson family a Québec family like any other is denial.
Of course the integration of the Habs into Quebecor Media would have brought the size, scope and power of what we now simply call «The Empire » to truly frightening proportions. With it’s near monopoly of cable and dominating position of Internet access, the biggest newspaper in the country (that would be Québec), the most watched television network, and a slew of magazines and specialty cable channels, Quebecor already has dominating position in the circulation and distribution of Québec culture.
Add Star Academie, a partnership with Céline Dion and the Canadiens and Quebecor would have an access to Québec minds of Chinese proportions.
But it made a lot of economic sense. Hockey is content. Quebecor is in the business of distributing content. They have the ways and means to make some untolds amount of money with a hockey team. Think of all the revelations on Georges Laraque’s family life and Saku Koivu’s decoration tips you could have read about while waiting in line at the supermarket in one of Quebecor’s 12 000 magazines!
Sure it’s scary, but how is it wrong?
The Molson’s are buying the Canadiens for the right reasons, we are told. How exactly is using a professional sports franchise as entertainment content wrong? What exactly are the Habs if they are not a show, a spectacle, a diversion?
Maybe the problem is that the Péladeau family who have many friends in the Parti québécois, and the Board of Quebecor, chaired by former Conservative PM Brian Mulroney, would not have been as willing to make big trades and fire coaches any time the Liberal Party have some unpleasant news they need to drown…