Quebec premier Pauline Marois (L, with swimmer Elise Marcotte and Jacques Chagnon) was called "Prime Minister" …Quebec premier Pauline Marois appears to have a new title, at least in the eyes of Olympic wrestler David Tremblay. Marois held a reception for Olympic athletes from the province in Quebec City Tuesday, and the release the Canadian Olympic Committee e-mailed out about the event includes one rather interesting quote:
"It is really amazing to have Prime Minister Marois organize something like this for the athletes of Quebec. We all took such great pride in representing our home proving on the world stage as a member of the Canadian Olympic Team." - David Tremblay (Wrestling)
Well, I'm sure Stephen Harper, Canada's actual prime minister, probably won't be thrilled to hear that the pro-separation Marois has been elevated to a head of state. It's probably just a slip of the tongue on Tremblay's part (or some really poor transcribing/translation by the Olympic Committee staffers who put that release together; it's notable that the release is in French, then English, and Tremblay's quote in French includes "première ministre," the correct title for the Quebec premier), but this would be near the top of "Canadian political slips not to make." (Update: the COC has confirmed this was a translation error, so no pitchforks for Tremblay, please.) Heck, Justin Trudeau thinks this is the wrong thing to say here. What makes it worse is that there's already been plenty of politicking over Quebec's role in Canada's Olympic team, and during the Olympics, Marois said "As an independent country, we could continue to win our medals, I'm convinced of that."
Football may not be an Olympic sport, but the Olympics certainly provides plenty of ammunition for the omnipresent political football of Quebec sovereignty, especially when you consider the level to which the province supports its athletes. Of course, most of those athletes receive federal support too, making it even easier for people to bring Canadian internal politics into debates about the Olympics. It also doesn't help when the premier of Quebec's engaged in an anti-federalism fight to the level that she took the provincial legislature's Canadian flag down when entering office and tried (and failed) to remove the Canadian flag from another room in the legislature this week. In that sort of context, remarks like the ones attributed to Tremblay here can take on plenty of significance for people both inside and outside Quebec.
What's notable is that Tremblay is not a native of Quebec. In fact, he's from Windsor, Ontario. He trains and competes in Quebec, though, and was part of the Concordia University squad that won their second-straight CIS men's wrestling championship this year. Tremblay's found a lot of success on the mat, claiming gold in the 61 kg class at those CIS championships and winning another gold at the Pan-Am qualification tournament this year to lock up an Olympic berth, but he lost his first match in London 0-1, 1-1 and was eliminated. This probably wasn't the way he wanted to get back in the spotlight. Still, in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a huge mistake or one that should make people go after Tremblay (especially as it's now been confirmed this was an innocent translation misstep). Heck, it's not even the worst moment for a Tremblay in Quebec in the last 30 days...