Monday, May 07, 2007

Doan controversy still resonates across Canada

While the captain of Team Canada goes about his business of leading his team towards a potential gold medal at the World Championships, the politicians who decided to make some hay out of his name last week are starting to feel the heat.

The backlash against the perceived witch hunt atmosphere of last week has the politicians scrambling for some cover as Canadians start to wonder aloud, just what the politicians priorities might be.

Here's an example of some coverage from a small town Canada paper, most likely indicative of some of the other papers across the country and their take on the entire Doan affair.

This one is taken from the Prince Rupert Daily News. We featured this item on our general information blog A Town called Podunk and we reprise it below for the HockeyNation.

Cullen weighs in on the Doan affair

Nathan Cullen the local NDP MP for Skeena Bulkley Valley is disappointed at the amount of attention the recent Shane Doan controversy generated in Ottawa last week.

Doan became the focus of a Commons parliamentary committee which felt the need to discuss his status as captain of Canada’s national hockey team with officials of Hockey Canada.

Some members of Parliament decided to act upon an event that took place over 17 months ago that reportedly involved Doan and a French Canadian referee during a Montreal / Phoenix hockey game. The NHL investigated the incident and seem to clear Doan’s name, however it has become kind of an urban myth ever since, with particular interest from the Bloc Quebecois, Liberals and NDP members.

Last weeks committee almost seemed to take on the airs of a witch hunt as the Parliamentarians and Hockey Canada officials squared off. For the most part the episode has been portrayed as perhaps not Parliaments finest moment, as the national media took the parliamentarians to task for their blatant political agenda against what many say may very well be an innocent man.

It was the press coverage that Mr. Cullen took particular interest in, suggesting that the “press just went absolutely nuts on this.” Which would be a valid concern if not for the fact that much of the high drama of the controversy was generated by his own leader Jack Layton who suggested that Mr. Doan might not be a worthy representative for Canada, this despite not having heard Mr. Doan’s side of the story.

Layton, who has a tendency to speak first and think later at times, appeared to be solidly on the side of the Bloc and Liberal members looking for Mr. Doan’s head, when he said with no shortage of hyperbole, that Doan’s captaincy “cast a shadow” on Canada’s participation in the tournament, which if the Daily news article is to be read properly is not the position of Mr. Cullen.

“This guy has been cleared and is cleared as far as I am concerned,” said Cullen speaking from Ottawa last week.

To his credit, Cullen does appear to understand how silly his fellow MP’s looked last week and how they probably were not serving their constituents as Canadians might like.

But, perhaps before Mr. Cullen gets too concerned about the press coverage, he may wish to have a discussion or two with his own leader and ask him about those parliamentary priorities in Ottawa.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, May 7, 2007
Pages one and three

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said business in Ottawa came to a grinding halt last week as MPs grilled Hockey Canada officials about their decision to appoint Shane Doan as Team Canada captain.

“I’m totally disappointed. The press just went absolutely nuts on this,” Cullen said. “A couple of politicians make some comments and all of a sudden that’s all that’s going on in Ottawa. It’s very frustrating because it’s up to Hockey Canada to choose their captain. This guy has been cleared and is cleared as far as I concerned,” said Cullen, speaking from Ottawa last week.

An incident 17 months ago, when Doan was alleged to have called a referee “f---ing French,” was dredged up lately by the Bloc Quebecois, which demanded Doan be removed as captain of Team Canada.

Doan was cleared by Hockey Canada after the incident, and there is plenty of testimony that swearing and racist instincts are foreign to the Alberta-born player, who is a devout Christian.

A parliamentary committee yesterday passed a motion- supported by all parties- calling for the athletic body to explain the Doan captaincy a day after the issue was raised in the House of Commons.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion said the Tories’ silence on the issue was “shocking,” while Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe admonished the government for not taking a stand on an issue that he said was disrespectful to francophones.

NDP Leader Jack Layton said Mr. Doan’s captaincy would “cast a shadow” on Canada’s participation in the tournament.

In testimony before the House of Commons official languages committee last week, Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson suggested it wasn’t Doan, but another player, a non Canadian, who uttered the slur.

Tory MP Michael Chong defended the need to question Hockey Canada in an interview with the Canadian Press, saying since the national team receives federal funding MPs have the right to interfere with its decision making.

“We’re talking about Team Canada. We’re talking about an organization that receives millions of dollars a year in government money – in public funds,” Mr. Chong told the Canadian Press. “They are accountable, in part, to the government of Canada”

Cullen said he could not believe the whole affair.

“I am just shaking my head along with a lot of other Canadians about what was going on. I am a little embarrassed politicians are taking this and from all parties. There are many other good things going on in parliament and this is not what we need to be talking about,” said Cullen.

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