Thursday, May 03, 2007
Politicians deserve game misconduct
Politicians deserve game misconduct for Doan smear job
Don Martin, National Post
Published: Thursday, May 03, 2007
OTTAWA At the wrong place in front of the wrong people, they ended up making life miserable for the wrong guy.
A parliamentary committee loaded with third-string politicians could do nothing more than gulp, swear allegiance to the teams gold-medal objective and whimper with embarrassment as hockey star Shane Doan was exonerated as a worthy Captain Canada by the sports governing bodies.
The offending quip, a "f**king Frenchmen" slur muttered against an all-francophone referee lineup late in a December 2005 game, was actually from left-winger Ladislav Nagy of Slovakia, an admission that is expected to officially enter the court records during Doans defamation hearing against MP Denis Coderre.
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Yet, something tells me Slovakian politicians wont be hauling Nagy before a committee to justify his credentials as a national team player.
The setting for Canadas unprecedented meddle in none-of-their-business territory was loaded with negative irony. Inside the nations capital just off the Hall of Honour, parliamentarians engaged in a dishonorable, disingenuous and pointless tarnishing of an iconic Canadian.
They dusted off and dragged on Doans misery, extending the original wrong of his 10-minute penalty during the actual game into a bogus 16-month misconduct in the court of public opinion. Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson startled the committee very early on in the hearing by disclosing that Doan had been improperly tagged as the guy who uttered the anti-French slur.
He went on to argue that Doan was the logical, if not only choice, having played 46 games under the Maple Leaf while the remaining 22 Team Canada players combined had only 116 notches on their belts.
For one player to dominate Canadas place on the international arena so convincingly only to be denied the captain status would be unfathomable.
Yet, despite the quip clearance and Doans performance credentials, some MPs spent another hour sneering and smearing the hockey star before the cameras on topics far from the meetings purpose.
Much ado was made about official bilingualism, despite Hockey Canada being at the advanced state of working seamlessly in both official languages.
They fretted about the linguistic balance of the team, a query that backfired given that most francophones who were asked to play for the team turned down the opportunity for a variety of reasons.
And, incredibly, many persisted in saying that Doans sullied status deserved reconsideration of his leadership position.
The Bloc Quebecois, separatists who undoubtedly find the notion of Quebecers on a Team Canada offensive, were at their accusatory worst.
Blochead MP Luc Malo was particularly confrontational, insisting just the whiff of guilt was enough to rip the "C" off Doans jersey.
But when the inquisitor got an inquisition from Global Nationals tenacious TV reporter Hannah Boudreau after the meeting, as she dogged him down hallways demanding to know if unfounded allegations would be sufficient for Malo to surrender his MP credentials, the one-term wonder fled in a nervous sweat without answering.
For their part, government MPs did little more than sound like team groupies while soliciting praise for their sports equipment tax credit which, not surprisingly, Hockey Canada loved.
Look, its professionally a tad embarrassing to be writing columns on political antics of such a trivial matter when our troops are at war and were allegedly on some 15-year doomsday countdown clock before climate change kills the planet.
But its all too morbidly fascinating to look away as MPs thrashed about in mud of their own creation, demanded to know if a players language skills, not his ability to put goals in a net, were a factor in the selection process. Well, duh, no.
MPs and the sports representatives used the word "respect" ad nauseum respect for the committee, the process, each others comments, the players, the game, blah, blah, blah.
But the one person denied it deserved it most.
Shane Doan is showing incredible patriotism through a history of volunteer action. He sacrificed golf for gold, giving up time with his family and some horseback riding or mountain biking at his parents summer camp.
When his hand went up to help Canada reclaim its rightful gold medal podium position, he knew that meant cuts and bruises on ice. He could never have dreamed it meant a painful beating by his countrys politicians.
Establishing Doans guilt or innocence was always beyond the committees mandate. Hockey Canada says it has no second thoughts about its choice. To strip Doan of his captaincy would, in Nicholsons view, send players packing for home and leave Canada without a team.
The insult to injury was when those flicking hypocrites on the committee voted unanimously to cheer Team Canada on to victory after putting the team in a morale meltdown and smearing the teams figurehead.