Mikaël Kingsbury draped in blue on the podium of a World Cup and Alexis Lafrenière with a fleur-de-lis on his chest. Robert Sirois does not let go with his idea of Team Quebec during international sporting events.
In a freshly printed book, he even urges Prime Minister François Legault to respect the support he had shown for his project when he was in opposition.
The former player of the National Hockey League, who has campaigned for years for Quebec athletes to form a nation in all competitions other than the Olympic Games, relaunches the subject with his book Équipe nationale du Québec, a unifying project and Identity, a 171-page book which will launch on Saturday in Piedmont, in the Laurentians.
Quebec, a nation
“Since 2006, Quebec has been recognized by UNESCO as being a people with a territory”, recalls the author, who sees in it the coherence of being represented “in all sports in the same way as the four nations that form the United Kingdom, ie Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England, which are not countries, but non-sovereign nations like Quebec ”.
“My goal is to see Quebec […] participate in the Commonwealth Games, the Pan American Games, the World Cups and the World Championships in all sports, but like the United Kingdom, Quebec is joining Canada for the Olympic Games ”, offers Sirois in an interview with Le Journal .
More than a decade after a first book published in 2009 in which he preached for a Quebec team during the world junior hockey championship (Quebec put in check), Robert Sirois today throws a new stone in the political pond.
While recalling the decisions of the liberal government of Philippe Couillard to have “thrown in the trash” a feasibility study that Pauline Marois had commissioned from him then in power, this time, it is François Legault that the author invites to get wet .
“I want to create a pressure movement towards the government of Quebec so that Legault keeps his word,” he said.
Sirois cannot understand why the Prime Minister refused to discuss a motion tabled by the Parti Québécois in June 2019 on the relevance of seeing Quebec be represented as a nation at international events. He considers this refusal contradictory after he had paid, at the time when he was in the opposition, amounts of $ 200 on three occasions to the Fondation Équipe-Québec “in order to contribute to the sustainability of your mission”.
“The three letters with the money from his discretionary budget that he sent us are copied in my book. He will not be able to say that it is not true, ”argues the author who launched this foundation in 2013 with André Matteau.
A unifying effect
Robert Sirois is banking on the unifying effect that a Fleurdelisée team would generate, all sports combined. He says he imagines an evening in an Olympic stadium galvanized by a soccer match between Mexico and Quebec.
“We would have players from the Maghreb, Haiti, Russia, Greeks, Italians, tightly knitted Quebecers, etc. Our diversity would be represented with this team. You can be sure that the Greeks, the Italians, the Haitians would all be behind the fleur de lys because the players from their communities would be part of the Quebec team. ”
The World Juniors, the trigger
His career in the National Hockey League had helped Robert Sirois to sharpen his gaze on the place that Quebec should take in the world of sport. The low representation of Quebec players at the world junior hockey championship served as a detonator to claim it.
Militant for the nation
In 2009, the former Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals forward published the book Le Québec put in check in which he wanted to see Quebec send its own team to the World Juniors in order to counter the favoritism he observed in the NHL. His new career as an activist for the nation had just taken off.
“Some years, Quebec has one player (on the Canadian team), other years, there are two or three at most. So all the other Quebecers who play in the QMJHL have no visibility. When we know that the National League teams do not even have recruiters in Quebec, that does not help our players too much, apart from our exceptional ones, to be able to showcase themselves, ”he still laments today. hui.
Other sports, other examples
This example in junior hockey led Robert Sirois to extend his thinking in all sports. In the new book he is publishing this Saturday, he raises the legitimacy of Quebec to delegate national teams to the main competitions of international federations by virtue of its status as a nation recognized by UNESCO.
“There are 35 nations or territories, which are not countries and which are not members of the UN, but which nevertheless have national teams”, counts the author, who blames the media here for a lack of interest in defending the representation of Quebec in sport as a nation.
“Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Puerto Rico, Gibraltar, the Virgin Islands, admire their ardor, their own identities, those of these proud nations,” he wrote in his conclusion. But Quebec remains to this day one of the last non-sovereign nations not to participate in major international championships. ”