Hockey probe a new low in Canadian
[PoliticsWatch updated 5:20 p.m. May 3, 2007]
|Team Canada captain Shane Doan
Almost everything that is wrong with Canadian politics and
politicians today was on full display at the Commons official
languages committee on Thursday morning.
Ignorance, grandstanding, jingoistic empty patriotism and nonsensical spin was on full
display from Parliamentarians as officials from Hockey Canada were compelled
on short notice to fly in from Russia to defend the selection of
Phoenix Coyote forward Shane Doan as the captain of Team
Canada at this year's world hockey championships.
Much of the hearings were televised live on cable news
It gave any Canadian who cared to watch the opportunity to see what
a bunch of politically correct, busy bodies, with a flimsy grasp of
the subject matter they are dealing with and a great love of the
sound of their own voices that Canadians send to Ottawa.
All the MPs said they supported Team Canada, yet they had no problem
creating this political sideshow to drag the team captain through
the mud once again while the players are playing for their country
half way around the world.
Given how foolish the questions some of the MPs asked during the
committee proceedings Thursday, it is highly doubtful that many of
them are hard core hockey fans who will be checking their
Blackberries for updates on the score of Canada's next Group B
game against Germany.
Our elected officials only proved conclusively on Thursday morning
just how out of touch they are from ordinary Canadians. Their
inability to understand something as basic and Canadian as hockey
and how a team captain is chosen raises serious questions about
their abilities to deal with any issue of complexity, such as
nuclear proliferation or global terrorism.
NDP MP Yvon Godin seemed very interested in the number of
francophone -- not Quebec -- players on Team Canada, which seemed a
bit of a tangent to the issue at hand. Perhaps he was trying to find
out if the entire national hockey program practised systematic
racism (Why isn't Guy Lafleur on the team after all?) or was
in need of an NDP-approved racial and linguistic quota system.
An official from Hockey Canada informed him that of the available
pool of players whose teams did not make the NHL playoffs "nine
or 10" francophone players were invited and not one accepted
the offer to play for their country overseas this year for variety
of reasons, including injuries and family. But six did the previous
Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez kept pressing Hockey Canada
officials about why they were so willing to accept the results of
the NHL investigation that cleared Doan of making the alleged
anti-French slur against an NHL official when the linesman in
question gave a sworn statement to the contrary.
This is very rich coming from a former youth president of the Quebec
wing of the Liberal party. The Liberal party and its MPs spent over
a year during the Gomery inquiry telling Canadians to reserve
judgement on their party despite witness after witness telling
Gomery, under oath, about the lurid details of an elaborate kickback
scheme to funnel taxpayer money to the Liberal party in
The sworn testimony of numerous individuals against the Liberal
party back then were "only allegations" to Liberals. It
would seem Shane Doan, who isn't being accused of misusing taxpayer
money, is being held to a much higher standard on the allegations of
one person by Mr. Rodriguez.
Equally embarrassing is that the Conservative MPs on the committee
went along and approved this sideshow happening yet are pretending
they had nothing to do with it.
Tory MP Pierre Poilievre said Canadians want to put
politicians in the "penalty box" and let Team Canada put
the puck in the net. Of course Poilievre's soundbite failed to
mention his party and the spineless Tory MPs on the committee
unanimously supported the motion to call Hockey Canada officials
back from Russia in the middle of the world championships. And since
that motion was passed there weren't any Conservative MPs rushing to
the media to express their outrage.
Conservative blogs and websites aren't too happy with Team Tory's
complicity in this whole fiasco. Why would the Conservatives do
something that would again test the patience of its base less than a
week after announcing the infamous lightbulb ban?
It wouldn't have anything to do with Prime Minister Stephen
Harper's new plan announced entirely in French in Quebec on the
weekend of trying to woo Quebec nationalists to the Conservative
family? Harper the hockey dad wouldn't put petty regional politics
Of course not.
There's a simple logical reason for this, according to committee
chair and Tory MP Guy Lauzon. It's all the Bloc's fault and
the Tories are powerless to do anything against a party they like to
portray as useless during question period every day.
"I regret that the Bloc played some petty politics by bringing up this issue. This issue didn't have to come to this
committee," Lauzon told reporters after the committee hearing.
When reporters reminded Lauzon that his fellow Tory MPs supported
the motion, Lauzon said, "Yeah, the committee members voted."
So why are you blaming the Bloc?
"Because it was their motion that was put there. The truth of the matter is the only way to clear the issue was to bring Hockey Canada to the committee."
In this new twisted, Tory logic the only way to stop the sideshow
was to vote in favour of arranging said sideshow.
"We're here to support Hockey Canada," Lauzon said, then
pausing and adding, "and both official languages."
Witness to all this was Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of
Hockey Canada, who delivered passionate defence of Doan, who he
described in saint-like terms.
"We should respect the rights of Shane Doan," Nicholson said.
"I've known Shane Doan since he was 17 years old. He's represented our country eight times. He's a Christian."
According to his Wikipedia page, Doan, an Alberta native, expresses
"strong Christian values" and his parents operate Circle
Square Ranch, a non-denominational Christian children's summer camp
and year-round activity centre.
"I get very emotional because he is a person that we should not be talking about in this
way," Nicholson said while defending Doan from allegations he
said he believed to be false.
After the committee hearings ended, Nicholson told reporters that he
did not mind having to fly back to Canada to defend Doan. He said it
was his job to stick up and protect his players.
He said he would be more than pleased to come back to Parliament
Hill again but this time to talk about something more
"I'd love to be here if they were talking about rinks and the
need of rinks in this country. It's the biggest issue in our game.
We need rinks to be upgraded in this country. We need new rinks so
that all young boys and girls get to play hockey.
"I'd love to be called back on that type of issue."
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