Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Politicians plan their power plays in Ottawa

There it would seem to the casual observer (ie the taxpayer) in Canada to be no shortage of issues that our elected politicians might wish to tackle on our behalf.

There’s a war in Afghanistan in which Canadian troops have been sent in harms way, Canadians no doubt would like to think that their politicians have their eyes on that situation and are keeping it in the forefront of their thoughts.

There’s an ever expanding wait list for medical help. Somewhere in Canada today there is a mother or a father, a sister or a brother, a husband or a wife waiting for word that a much needed operation or treatment is going to go ahead, it’s an issue that demands more of our politician’s time.

Education is the key to the nation’s future, surely there is some time for debate on how to give our youth more opportunities to get ahead, to get a better education and prepare for a changing world ahead, it’s worthy of a conversation or two on Parliament Hill.

Crime is something that touches us all, hard core criminals seem to get but a slap on the wrist from the judicial system these days, maybe Parliament might wish to look into that and give Canadians hope that someone listens to their concerns.

But, no, on a Tuesday in Ottawa, the main concern of our elected Parliamentarians was not any of the pressing issues of our times, but instead seemed to be the captaincy of a hockey team playing in a tournament in Russia.

Shane Doan became something of a character from a McCarthy era witch-hunt on Tuesday, as three of the four political parties decided that he was the most important thing they could think about on behalf of the Canadian people.

The NDP, Liberals and Bloc Quebecois spent a good portion of their time Tuesday looking to have Doan removed as captain of the Canadian team in Russia and demanding that Hockey Canada officials report to the Hill to explain how such a person as Doan could be named to such a post.

The problem in their eyes is an apparent slur that Doan may or may not have uttered more than two years ago during an NHL hockey game. In which it was accused that Doan made a verbal slur against a French Canadian referee. It was an incident that was placed into an official NHL report and was investigated by the NHL.

Doan has protested his innocence since the reputed incident took place and continued that defence yesterday in the face of the Parliamentarian attack on his reputation.

Numerous character witnesses have come out on his behalf to say it would be out of his character to do such a thing. In the incident from two years ago now up for debate again, it was basically a case of he said/he said, with no definitive proof of the incident to be entered as evidence.

The NHL determined that to their knowledge there was no proof that Doan issued any kind of slur against the referee and effectively closed the case. Some say they gave the incident short shrift, but the issue seemed to fade into the background as the years went by.

It sprang to life yesterday as the three political parties decided to play a little politics on the always controversial issue of French-English relations in Canada.

While the issue of whether Doan said anything wrong seems to still be an issue for some, it surely isn’t the kind of item that should be debated or used for political points by politicians in Ottawa.

In fact since there is currently a defamation court case working its way through the system, this is the last thing the Parliament of Canada should probably have concerned themselves with.

The most that the politicians should have done and if they were serious in their concerns they would have done this a few years ago, would have been to instruct the federally funded Hockey Canada to investigate and report back to the Sports Minister.

Should they have found proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that Doan had exhibited the kind of behavior that the politicians were up in arms over, then at that time perhaps a discussion could have been held as to Doan's worthiness as a captain or a team member.

As it is, the members of the three parties have convicted him without a benefit of due process, tainting the situation with their own uninformed commentary, leaping to conclusions without any form of evidence or testimony.

They are treading in an area which they really have no reason to be, other than to score rather easy political points. In no way should they be interfering with the way a team is put together, or who they decide is best suited to be the on ice leader.

There was more than enough time since the incident took place for Hockey Canada to have been asked to look into the matter, letting it go a full two years before suddenly finding it an issue reeks of opportunism from the politicians, a condition not unknown to them but normally is reserved for those of their fellow travelers.

The grandstanding in the Commons and pointless television sound bites could have been avoided and were certainly not needed on something that in the end has no real impact on the running of the nation. Which the last time we checked is why the Canadian electorate sends them there.

This is not exactly what we send our politicians off to Ottawa to work on, if they think it is, then surely we are paying too much for the services provided. It’s long been said that the politicians of Ottawa are far too often uninformed on what the real issues are and what Canadians are most worried about.

The McCarthy like outrage exhibited by the MP’s on this particular issue seems more than a little over the top, and it has not gone un-noticed. Almost unanimously the reaction has been that the politicians are out of touch on this one, much like they seem to be far too often of late it seems.

Considering the amount of people that have been speaking out on Doan’s behalf in the last seventy two hours, we suspect that his character will come out of this fine, we’re not so sure we can say the same about the politicians.

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