The federal Liberals want the Conservative government to push for a lineup change to Team Canada at the upcoming world hockey championship because of ethnic slurs that were allegedly made by a player toward a francophone referee more than a year ago.
The allegations, which sparked two lawsuits, revolve around an incident at a December 2005 NHL game involving Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan and a francophone linesman. An NHL investigation absolved Mr. Doan of any wrongdoing.
"There is now proof that hockey player Shane Doan uttered racial insults during a game against the Montreal Canadiens," said Marcel Proulx, the Liberal party deputy whip, in the House of Commons.
So why should the federal government care about a hockey player mouthing off on the ice to a ref, like thousands of players before and after him, after a bad call against him?
Mr. Proulx later said it wasn't up to him to decide whether Mr. Doan should play, but he added the government must seek explanations from Hockey Canada.
"I'm saying that the government of Canada finances partly Hockey Canada, so if they agree that there shouldn't be racism in sports they should question Hockey Canada on how they can include him in their team," Mr. Proulx said after question period.
According to a document tabled last month in Quebec Superior Court in support of a lawsuit launched by Liberal MP Denis Coderre, linesman Michel Cormier reported that "at the (end) of the third period No. 19 Shane Doan skated (by) me saying: 'F... French did a good job.'"
Mr. Coderre's suit was in response to one Mr. Doan filed against the politician in the middle of the 2006 federal election campaign.
What is the damage that has been suffered here? The linesman has surely heard far worse on the ice, and no one seriously believes that either he, or NHL referees, or even the Quebecois nation, have been defamed beyond repair.
But when there is government money involved, however tangentially, the government must be to blame.
Settle the matter on the ice and not in court or on the Commons floor. It already was when Doan took a gross misconduct penalty and the league backed up Doan.