Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Statistics Can Say Anything- It's a Matter of Perspective

I read a blog entry that touted Quebec's performance at the Vancouver Olympics which asserted that Quebec outperformed the rest of Canada in terms of medal production. The skewed use of data had me scratching my head and so I did a little analysis of my own.....

You might remember a blog entry I wrote about an ex-NHLer who wrote a book 'proving' that Francophones were systematically discriminated against in the NHL. In the book written by Bob Sirois, entitled Le Québec mis en échec (Quebec Body-Checked) the author used a plethora of statistics to prove that Quebeckers are given the short end of the stick and are the subject of an organized conspiracy to keep their NHL numbers low. LINK

Now I never bothered reading the book, because its premise is ludicrous.
As in the entertainment business, sports is one domain where talent wins out. There isn't a general manager in the NHL who is so comfortable in his job that he would hire or draft an Anglophone or European before a superiorly talented Francophone. To believe otherwise is insane.

In a contrasting article written by Louis Fournier, on the nationalist vigel.net, the writer takes the exact opposite view and lists all the Francophones in the NHL, 'proving' that Francophones are overrepresented!
Of course he takes quite a few liberties in discerning who is a Francophone with the most egregious error being his reference to Roberto Luongo as a Francophone-Italo-Quebecker.

Now I know a lot of Montreal Italians and I defy anyone to pretend that they are anything but 99% Anglophones. They refer to themselves as Italian-Canadians, as do the Jews, Greek and the Chinese who live in Quebec.

So statistics can be interpreted with widely differing conclusions and in this spirit I will analyse Mr. Fournier's recent missive entitled  Les athlètes québécois se sont surpassés aux Jeux de Vancouver  (Quebeckers outshone the rest of Canada at the Olympics.)

He starts off by saying that Quebeckers won 28 0f the 90 medals earned by Canadians at the Vancouver games. (This includes all the team medals and individuals medals.) This represents a medal haul of 31% as compared to Quebec's 22% proportion of the population, a good achievement  but not earth-shattering, even if true. At any rate a more detailed look will reveal that this isn't exactly the case and that Mr. Fournier takes the same liberties as he did in his first article.

As I reviewed the list he provides, the first thing that struck me was the over-representation of Anglophones on his list of Quebec winners, who won  6 of the of the 28 medals. With 8.5% of the Quebec population Anglos racked up 28% of the medals!

Again, this is not exactly true, because two of the winners, Clara Hughs and Jenneifer Heil are 'imports' and moved to Quebec for various reasons long after they were successful, but no matter they shall be counted just the same!

By the way, many of the Francophone athletes who medalled are firmly the product of Anglo culture and education system with Marie-Philip Poulin, the star of the gold medal hockey game, currently enrolled in Dawson College and Kim St. Pierre and Charline Labonté both McGill graduates.

If you're going to count as Quebekers, those who moved here, it would be fair to remove from the list those who live outside Quebec on a full time basis. Case in point is Martin Brodeur, the goalie of the New Jersey Devils who actually took out American citizenship just weeks prior to the Olympic games.
If Ryan Miller wasn't clearly the number one goalie for the United States, perhaps we'd have seen Mr. Brodeur sporting a big USA on his jersey! (Remember Tony Espositio?)

Then of course there is Caroline Ouellette who played hockey and was educated at the University of Minnesota and Sarah Vaillancourt who went to Harvard University, not one of your more familiar Francophone schools!

When you remove Marc-Andre Fleury from the equation, because he never actually set foot on the ice, you pretty much find  that Anglos and the Anglophones are responsible for close to half of Quebec's haul.
If you subtract the non-Quebec Quebeckers, Quebec's contribution is just about spot on with what Canada did. (I dare you to make a sentence with three 'Quebecs' in a row!!!)

Anyways, that's what my statistics tell me.

Now before you tell me that my logic is faulty and that I argue opposite points to achieve my preconceived conclusions, that is exactly the point.

When you set out to twist statistics to prove an already formed idea, you are engaging in intellectual fraud and unfortunately most of the 'statistics' and 'facts' that come out of the sovereignty movement are based on these types of  exercises.

It has gotten to the point that when Gilles Duceppe speaks I'm apt to check every fact that he claims and every error of omission that he makes. There's hardly a speech without a factual error or gross misrepresentation or omission. But the faithful eat it up, just the same.

If you didn't have a chance to see the video I prepared of Mario Beaulieu, president of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal, telling one whopper after another, in a speech before a group of ardent separatists watch it HERE.

The problem is that nobody is out there checking the facts, not even the reporters who cover these people and so these people are free to make the most outrageous claims, misrepresentations and errors of omissions.

Dishonesty is the hallmark of the sovereignist movement, starting way back when, with the very first referendum question where the YES camp tried to fool Quebeckers into voting YES by soft-pedalling reality.
In the second referendum the YES side used a campaign poster to intimate that the Loony, would be the currency of an independent Quebec, a concept that was patently false and misleading.

Nothing has changed, the sovereignist campaign still relies on lies and it's strictly a case of smoke and mirrors. The Bloc Quebecois' attacks on Canada and Anglophones are dishonest in any measure. Sadly many Quebeckers believe the lies spun by those who tell them that Canada is an economic and cultural drag on Quebec.
It's comically absurd, but everyday we hear it.


  1. @Tym: “I took them from Adski, the so-called moderate who dares to compare the PQ to LePen Front National in France and the BNP in England.”

    Well, Tym, you are making that connection yourself. I said that every country has its crackpots, and I named a few without drawing a direct parallel between any of them. But you did, which means there is something to it.

    The BQ and PQ, which you are sort of defending right now, take a good care of their image and deny any accusations of racism, however difficult that task may be for parties deeply rooted in ethnic nationalism, as the PQ and BQ certainly are. So despite their best efforts, the truth comes out in slip ups and blunders. As in the “ethnic cities” comments by one of pequiste ideologues currently working in Montreal’s city hall.

    The fact is that as hard as I try to give the PQ and BQ the benefit of the doubt, sometimes they leave me no choice. Case in point – La Marche Des Patriotes where chants like “Le Quebec aux Quebecois” are a recurring theme and conjure up the images of the BNP marches in the 1980’s. What does it have to do with the PQ/BQ, you ask? Well, none other than Gilles Duceppe, the fearless leader himself, was there to give a speech and whip up some passions amongst the marchers.


    So the connection is rather direct, wouldn’t you say?

    Editor: “on the nationalist vigel.net”

    The site’s address is actually: http://www.vigile.net/

    Editor: “when Gilles Duceppe speaks I'm apt to check every fact that he claims and every error of omission that he makes.”

    When I’m walking down the street on a nice sunny day, and a Quebec nationalist comes to me and says “what a nice sunny day”, I instinctively look up to the sky to check if it is really a nice sunny day. Just to make sure.

    Editor: “the YES side used a campaign poster to intimate that the Loony”

    They also wanted to keep the Canadian citizenship in 1995. It’s hard to say whether these people are genuinely confused and don’t know what they want, or whether they are master manipulators. I’m leaning towards the latter. People like Duceppe, Parizeau, Marois, don’t want anything else but power and prestige. And it is more prestigious to be president of a country, than a provincial premier. But unfortunately for them, the country they are trying to dismantle for their personal ambitions is no Soviet Union or Yugoslavia, but in fact one of the most prosperous countries in the world. So they have to use manipulation and lies to reach their goals. They have no choice. What is sad is that a third of this province actually falls for it.

  2. Hey, I was the one pointed out about Jenn Heil and Clara Hughes at vigile.net. You should have credited me! :-D Just kidding.

    I also pointed out at another thread at vigile.net here:


    I pointed out the fallacy of the writer's opinion that the percentage of Francophones Canadian winning the medal is 50%. After I wrote that it is about 70 - 30, another poster just changed the criteria. Now medals won by a team with Francophones in it is considered as "Francophone's medal". No matter what the fact is, those fools always have a way to spin it to fit their premise.

    On another note, what is "non-Quebec Quebeckers"? Are you following Louis Prefontaine's stupid premise that non-francophone people who live (often times also were born and raised) in Quebec are not Québécois?

  3. "Les athlètes québécois se sont surpassés aux Jeux de Vancouver (Quebeckers outshone the rest of Canada at the Olympics)."

    You're being a bit over dramatic on the translation, it should read, "Quebeckers surpass expectations at Olympics" or " Quebec athletes self excel at the Olympics" Nothing in that title mentions the rest of the Canadian athletes.

  4. There is ONE statistic that cannot be fudged. The Francophone share of Canada's population has been in steady decline since at least 1950.

  5. Here is ANOTHER statistic that cannot be fudged: the Anglophone population of Quebec has been decimated during the past forty years because of draconian French language laws adopted by the Quebec government.

  6. Reply to Anon at 3:40 PM;

    True enough, but only in Quebec. The English language is fine elsewhere in Canada and the Anglos who left Quebec just settled elsewhere. They weren't really 'lost' to the community as a national whole, from a demographic standpoint. In contrast the Franco communities outside Quebec are melting away. One more reason why I favor Swiss-style language region laws. Canada is becoming like that de-facto anyways. I say make it de-jure.