MONTREAL — Hockey Canada was widely criticized Wednesday after a news report indicated a public address announcer at the Winter Olympics was told by the national governing body to stop using French pronunciations for the names of some Canadian players.
Federal Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said she was “extremely surprised” by Hockey Canada’s position, while Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard called it ”deplorable” and “ridiculous.”
A story in Le Journal de Montreal said Sebastien Goulet, the French-speaking PA announcer at the Gangneung arena at the Winter Games, was told by a Hockey Canada official to stop using French pronunciations for Team Canada players Derek Roy, Rene Bourque and Marc-Andre Gragnani.
On Tuesday, Hockey Canada responded to the article with a statement saying player names like Roy and Bourque should be pronounced the way they say it them themselves, rather than using the French pronunciations. Roy and Bourque are common names in Quebec.
Joly said her office was “on the file” and would work with the office of Sports Minister Kirsty Duncan.
She said Hockey Canada’s decision was “highly questionable” and added that “we always have to affirm the important of the French language.”
Couillard said, “as francophones, we need to object to this and to protest this strongly.”
“I am waiting for Hockey Canada to rectify the situation immediately. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Padcal Berube, a Parti Quebecois member of the legislature, said he was outraged.
“It’s insulting,” he said. “It’s a lack of respect. Especially as French is an official language at the Olympics.”
Hockey Canada’s statement also said the organization “respects all players, their background and their culture and makes best efforts to ensure that player names are pronounced as the player desires.”