Following a particularly violent incident in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game, the Federal NDP called on the government to launch a royal commission to investigate violence in sport. This move by the NDP betrays an obvious attempt at grandstanding and gaining popularity. Even worse, it is demonstrates the extent to which the party has strayed from its core beliefs and values, becoming irrelevant to the portion of the Canadian population which it purports to represent.
The call to investigate, made Feb. 2, was made after forward Patrice Cormier elbowed Mikael Tam in the face, leaving the defenceman convulsing on the ice. The incident quickly became the top sports story in the country, prompting national debate on the place and frequency of violence in sport. While there has been a lot of media coverage of the incident and the ensuing debate, the NDP’s call for nothing less than a royal commission represents the first involvement of a political party in the matter.
While the specific incident of violence and the debate which followed is certainly of immense interest to many Canadians, the debate on the place and frequency of violence in sport has no place in the chambers of government. The NDP, in calling for a royal commission to discuss the matter, is just calling out for attention. They are attempting to gain media headlines and popularity from an issue which, in essence, relates to a leisure activity. While the issue of violence in sport is important to many, the NDP’s involvement of itself in the issue is a blatantly political move, meant to curry favour among sports enthusiasts in this country.
Not only is it an obviously purely political move, this noise for a royal commission is also a distraction from the real problems affecting Canadians right now. Canada is still in the middle of a recession, which has caused real economic problems for people across the country. Canadian troops are still dying in Afghanistan, with no real end to the conflict in sight. What’s more, Parliament has been prorogued for the second time in about a year. The NDP could justifiably request a royal commission to investigate any of these pressing matters, but it instead has chosen to waste Canadians’ time and potentially tax dollars in calling for a royal commission on violence in sport.
Above all else, the move shows the party’s increasing irrelevance. The NDP has its roots in the old Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and the Canadian labour movement. In the past, it has advocated for improved social security, higher corporate taxes, and the repeal of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In more recent years however, it has moved closer and closer towards the centre of the political spectrum. Even as a member of the Socialist International, the NDP has failed to represent the interests and aspirations of Canadian working people.
In choosing to focus on issues that will gain it popularity rather than on issues that really affect the lives of Canadians, the NDP has shown that it is becoming insignificant. Hopefully, for the sake of working the portion of the Canadian population formerly represented by the NDP, a political party which can effectively and honestly represent them in the Canadian political system will emerge.