Quebec and Canadian accomplishments are synonymous
By Patrick Vaillancourt, News Editor
Once the medals started piling up for Canada in the first week of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, the “True North” debate on social media shifted from Olympic glitches and repulsive Russian anti-gay laws to something a little more baffling: that of distinguishing between the successes of Olympians from Quebec and those from the rest of Canada.
The talk has extended from social media and into the mainstream media: reporters have noted that if you took the medals won by Canadian Olympians in Sochi and divvied them up between Quebec and the rest of Canada, Canada would not be as high in the medal standings. Some have also pointed out that Quebec has earned more medals than any other province.
These aren’t even Quebec separatists talking about it, but Quebec federalists as well.
While it’s technically true that our athletes from Quebec have been doing exceptionally well at this year’s Winter Games, those athletes attend the games as representatives of Canada.
I am almost certain that if we were to ask Alex Bilodeau or the Dufour-Lapointe sisters who they won medals for, they’d say Canada.
But let’s talk specifics: while athletic development is something that Canadian provinces are responsible for, and Quebec has a great program for funding its athletes, it’s also important to remember that Quebec has been the beneficiary of a lot of federal dollars to support their development: the Financial Post reports that the federal government allocates $62-million annually to the Own the Podium program. In addition, there are the Canadian Olympic facilities—in Montreal, Vancouver, Whistler, and Calgary—where many Canadian athletes train for the Winter Games. This is, by and large, a team effort; a national effort. I’m certain the athletes from Quebec would also say as much.
The fact is, this wouldn’t even exist as a topic for discussion if the situation were reversed. If British Columbia, for example, was cleaning house in terms of medals, there wouldn’t be an alternative medal count that excludes athletes from the Province of Quebec.
It’s okay to be proud of the accomplishments of Canadian athletes, regardless of where in the country they’re from. It’s perfectly acceptable to tout the Quebec athletic program as being the most generous in terms of funding. But let’s not get carried away in this talk about how Quebec athletes are somehow more inclined to Olympic success than Olympians from other parts of the country. It only diminishes the remarkable Olympic successes of athletes like Dara Howell (Ontario), Denny Morrison (British Columbia), and Patrick Chan (Ontario).
Are we honestly going to keep talking about this?