Thursday, 3 May 2007

Wasting Time And Money

I'm not one to push any sort of political message across this blog. It's not the forum, nor does it deal with hockey in any form. I'll tell you right now that I'm as liberal as it gets towards same-sex marriages, I love free universal health care, and I'm not overly fond of sending our troops over to fight a war that we have no business in. What concerns me is that some MPs in our fine nation have taken shots at Hockey Canada for having Shane Doan as the captain of our Men's World Hockey Championship team. If any of these men represent you in your riding, would you seriously vote them back in as your representative? They are your voice in House of Commons. Think about that.

The NHL has cleared Doan of any wrong-doing, but last month linesman Michel Cormier testified in a court hearing that he was skating right next to Doan when he heard the slur about French people. The alleged slur was used during a game in Montreal between the Phoenix Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens. All four officials that night were French-Canadian.

Doan says all he did was make a sarcastic remark to teammate Curtis Joseph who was infuriated by a penalty call. Doan says he told Joseph: "Four French referees in Montreal, Cuje, figure it out."

Cormier's post-game report does indeed accuse a foreign-born player of having made the slur in the second period of the 2005 Phoenix-Montreal game. That player was identified as current Dallas Star Ladislav Nagy.

Hockey Canada chief Bob Nicholson's voice rose in anger after insulting questions from a Bloc Quebecois MP. The MP insists that Doan should have never been made captain.

"So what you're telling me is it's okay to make racist insults in certain situations," Bloc MP Luc Malo said after one hockey official pointed out that insults are part of the game.

He followed up that volley with Doan's offer to remove the captaincy: "Why don't you follow the logical suggestion of Mr. Doan himself and give the 'C' to someone else?"

The attack from the sovereigntist MP prompted Nicholson's most spirited defence of a man he called a proud Canadian.

He informed the MP that Shane Doan has represented his country eight times, has the support of all his teammates, and has gone over to play in the World Championships for free while sacrificing his off-season.

"We're taking Shane Doan, his wife, his mom and dad, his four kids through an allegation that could have been dictated by someone else," Nicholson said. "This is not right."

I whole-heartedly agree with Nicholson. To destroy a man's reputation over winning a few votes is a kick to the groin for this entire country. Luc Malo needs a slap upside the head. Excuse my language, but grow some balls, Luc. The man is innocent, yet you want to win an election by tarnishing his name? Grow up.

The Tories, who hold power, were already distancing themselves from the committee.

"What the constituents in my riding are saying is they'd like to put the politicians in the penalty box, so Team Canada can put the puck in the net," said Tory MP Pierre Poilievre.

Another Conservative, committee chair Guy Lauzon, cast the episode as an example of the Bloc Quebecois stirring up tension in their mission to break up Canada. And he's exactly right in tis writer's opinion.

The hearing ended with news cameras and journalists chasing the Bloc MP, Malo, down the corridors of Parliament and asking him why people should be punished over unproven allegations.

"He was not the captain when these allegations were put forward," Malo replied, referring to Doan, before charging through the crowd in a futile escape attempt.

"The best choice for Hockey Canada was to name someone else until this issue comes to an end."

Now I'm not one to take a cheap shot at the Canadian Press. They report the news, and they do it well. However, they rarely make a stance on an issue. This is where I come in.

I'll say it right here: I am proud to be a Canadian. However, this entire debacle the Canadian Government is putting the Doan family through has made me ashamed of my country, my heritage, and my willingness to proclaim my Canadian-ness.

The case against Doan is weaker than any government promise ever made. What this entire sham boils down to is that Doan has become a target for gutless politicians who have very little interest in hard facts, and a lot of interest in opening the futile and inherently stupid debate of Quebec sovereignty due to the French-vs-English feud that apparently exists only in Ottawa and Quebec.

Do you know why apathy exists when voters look at the men and women running for office? This is a huge reason. When there are much larger issues at stake like global warming, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, gas prices in Canada, poverty and homelessness, and saving free universal health care, why is it a matter of national interest to run down a long-serving member of Hockey Canada and a proud Canadian boy after he has been cleared of any wrong-doing by the company he works for? The NHL cleared him of any involvement.

The government sees it differently, though. Tory MP Michael Chong argued that since Hockey Canada receives federal funding, "they are accountable, in part, to the Government of Canada."

Who is accountable to the voting public? You know, that same voting public that pays the salary of these politicians who are calling into question Shane Doan's character? Since they are representatives in the government of people like you and I, should we not be allowed to call the shots? Do our voices get trumped by a guy living in Ottawa because he wants to appease the Quebec vote?

I am embarrassed for the country of Canada. And poor Shane Doan. He's a guy who has never turned down Team Canada. Not once. He certainly doesn't deserve this.

As Randy Turner of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote: "So how hurt must Doan be that his character is being called into question so publicly, by this own country's elected representatives, no less? If it made even a lick of sense, perhaps, it could be justifiable on some level. If Doan had a reputation or history of, say, violence or bigotry, then Hockey Canada would have some questions to answer."

But he doesn't. This is a guy who doesn't even curse on the ice due to his upbringing. And he routinely takes good-natured ribbing from his teammates in his reluctance to use any curse words.

I only have one thought for Gilles Duceppe, Ken Dryden, Luc Malo, Stephane Dion, Jack Layton, and Michael Chong: you're killing the game that made this country famous, and brings its people together like nothing else. And for that, you all deserve to be tossed from the game for instigating.

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice... or at least use it for a solid two-hand slash to the back of the knees of your Member of Parliament.

- with files from the Canadian Press

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