Historian, sociologist, author, the author teaches at the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi in programs in history, sociology / anthropology, political science and international cooperation. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Collective Imaginaries.
I am a sports fan, but first and foremost a citizen. As such, I want to outline why I rebel against the idea that professional baseball can return – as if we have not learned the hard lessons from the sad end of Expos.
What makes me proud as a Quebecer, and I imagine that this is the case for most of us, is what we have managed to achieve together for five or six decades in the economy, socially and culturally. More precisely: the original, enlightened and bold way we have often proceeded. What is particularly remarkable is that it has been able to combine goals and policies that seemed incompatible in light of the paths many companies followed.
We have managed to combine living nationalism with liberal politics, a kind of marriage of which we know no examples. Moreover, these two directions did not agree, but they nourished each other. Our motivations to invest in social policy, to fight poverty and inequality, to develop ourselves economically and culturally were permeated by nationalist solidarity. To this day, I do not know of any sociologists or historians who have truly succeeded in unraveling the roots of this unique marriage united by the values of compassion and justice.
In the same spirit, we have succeeded in bringing together a very dynamic entrepreneurship with a lively sensitivity in society that has also inspired important achievements. In the same way, belonging to a minority and fragile nation on this continent, we have nevertheless opened the doors to a immigration diversified and has adjusted our identity accordingly. This fact deserves to be emphasized by a population that was traditionally very attached to its homogeneity and saw it as the main condition for its survival.
The result has been a society which, despite its modest means, has succeeded in establishing itself according to an original model, by the opposites of our almighty neighbor. And this is just another peculiarity: undoubtedly Americanized in different ways, we have been able to preserve a different sensitivity and ways of doing things.
I will be forgiven for this long implementation to get to my topic. The idea of bringing professional baseball back to Montreal could not be more contrary to everything I just mentioned. It is a project that makes an insult to who we are and what we want to be. Arguments abound:
1. A third amphitheater must be built, which may be another white elephant, such as the Olympic Stadium and the Videotron Center in Quebec;
2. We disregard the shameful and humiliating precedent of the Expos, whose end was regrettable while the team, which followed at the bottom of the table, lived on the league’s charity;
3. We want to revive the lie of “Montreal, the city of baseball”: who does not remember the anemic crowd that forced the sale of the team?
4. We do not know the risk that the initiators of the project will want to take on, one of the most important, tax expert Alain Denault tells us, keeps part of his fortune in a tax haven (Journal of Montreal, March 24, 2021).
5. What is the probability that a viable team will come and settle here permanently?
6. What will be the financial burden that can be expected given the explosion in salaries and costs that are currently shaking up professional baseball?
7. Will there be enough millionaires in Montreal to buy the overpriced boxes now needed for a team’s survival?
8. At a time when we are collectively called upon by serious crises, would it be wise for our society to invest in this type of adventure?
Did I say emergencies? Here are a few: the recovery of our economy and society after the pandemic, the fight against climate change and the protection of the environment, the development of digital technology andartificial intelligence, the rescue of a dilapidated university system, the reorganization of the health system, the fight against poverty and inequality (which has been increasing for some time), the enormous puzzle of aging. the population, the stagnation of public finances.
In short, how to justify a commitment to a project as shaky as it is costly, as selfish as it is useless at a time when Quebec, engaged in stormy waters, needs all its energy and all its resources? We must ask our public administrations to be vigilant, not to encourage this meaningless adventure and even less to invest in it.