Someone had too much coffee this morning:
Re: The Canadian solution to the NHL Problem
Prime Minister Martin today announced that the federal government will take over the National Hockey League and run it as a "sacred trust, just like health care." The announcement came as pressure mounted for the government to do something to end the current NHL shutdown.
"No Canadian should be deprived of NHL hockey during hockey season," Martin said. "We will take over the NHL and run it in the public interest, just like we run the government of Canada."
In an hour-long news conference, the prime minister outlined reforms to the national game that his government will present to an emergency session of Parliament next week. "To protect the NHL from further Americanization, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will be fired and replaced immediately by Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson," Martin said.
Asked whether the Governor-General knew anything about hockey, Martin replied "not much," but that Clarkson and 200 of her closest friends would be leaving immediately on a fact-finding tour to investigate hockey-government relations in Hawaii, Fiji and Monaco.
To address long standing concerns about escalating violence in hockey, Martin said the government will increase the number of linesmen and referees to 12 per game, one official for each player on the ice. In addition, Canada's gun registry legislation will be amended to require all hockey sticks to be registered.
Once nationalized, all NHL teams will be subject to federal government guidelines for gender equality, affirmative action, and non-discrimination in hiring. "Inability to skate, shoot, or pass," Martin said, "will no longer be a sufficient reason for denying any Canadian an opportunity to play in the NHL."
Martin added that in future all NHL teams will also be required to abolish the position of "right wing" from their rosters. Asked why, Martin said it was necessary to increase support for hockey among union members, and to secure NDP backing for the NHL nationalization bill in Parliament.
The PM affirmed that "the great Canadian principle of equalization will be fully applied to our national game."
"The current distribution of NHL teams in Canada is unacceptable to this government," he said. "It violates the principle of regional equality for Alberta and Ontario to have two NHL teams each while some provinces have
none. Commencing next season, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be moved to Fredericton and the Edmonton Oilers to Charlottetown."
Martin declared the seating arrangements at NHL hockey rinks "unacceptable" as well. "We do not accept two-tier medicine in this country and we cannot accept multi-tier seating at hockey arenas. It's un-Canadian."
Martin explained that former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano will be put in charge of a program to flatten the seating arrangements in all NHL arenas. Asked how spectators in the back rows would be able to see the game, Martin said the government is devising a plan for rotating spectators from back seats to front seats between periods. "It is our intention, in the interests of fairness, to ensure that any inability to see the game is fully equalized among all spectators, Martin said. "It's the Canadian way."
In recognition of the principle of "asymmetric federalism," and to secure the support of the Bloc Quebecois for the nationalization measure, Martin also confirmed that the Montreal Canadians will be exempted from the proposed reforms.
Finally, to pay for the nationalization program, the government's next budget will include a Fan Tax, an Ice Tax, a Puck Tax, a Stick Registration Fee and a new 115-per-cent income tax bracket for any hockey player making more money than the PM.