SHAWINIGAN, Que. — Irony: on the same day when the media decided makes news about a painting depicting Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the nude, Jean-François Bastien made news for wearing clothing protesting Canda's environmental policies.
While performing O Canada before Friday's MasterCard Memorial Cup opener, Bastien opened his jacket to reveal a T-shirt with the message "Sorry Kyoto" and "Harper," referring to the United Nations agreement to fight climate change which Canada controversially withdrew from late last year. Bastien's brazen display of making politics and pucks met with a predictable result — the singer, who hails from the nearby Mauricie region town of St-Boniface, Que., has been fired from performing during the remainder of the tournament. As Steve Turcotte of Le Nouvelliste reported, Bastien even told fans and friends via Facebook that he had something planned before the game, which was aired nationwide on Sportsnet and TVA Sports and on the U.S. version of NHL Network. The official line from the Candian Hockey League was that it takes "no political position."
The leaders of the Canadian Hockey League did not appreciate it, nor did the organizing committee, who immediately expressed their displeasure. Bastien would also have not been paid for his performance.
The position of Bastien was reflected as the singer from St. Boniface had spilled the beans on his Facebook [Friday] afternoon, "Will sing at the opening of the Memorial Cup just now. I'll be sure to give meaning to my interpretation. Surprise .... I will come back to later. At your expensive TVs friends)!" (Le Nouvelliste)
Climate change is probably not a topic for a sports blog to solve in a day, but certainly feelings toward Prime Minister Harper are much different through much of Quebec than they are closer to his political base in Ontario and Western Canada. So the debate is over whether this was really appropriate for Bastien to make his political spin known.
It's arguable that the shut-up-and-sing attitude is too simplistic. He's a creative person, why does that mean he has to check his conscience at the door before he performs? It's doubtful he would ever get such a platform again, even the message appeared on television for only a few fleeting seconds. Like former House of Commons page Brigitte DePape, who (in)famously displayed a Stop Harper sign during the throne speech last year, he saw a forum and used it. To some, particularly corporate sponsors who don't want to be seen as having a political bias, it's inappropriate. To others, it's free expression.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.