Is the NHL dooming itself with the lockout?
The longer the hockey lockout goes on, the more likely a rival league is to emerge in North America — which is exactly the situation that led to the NHL coming into existence in the first place.
That's what hockey historian Liam Maguire told the CBC's Lang & O'Leary Exchange recently.
Maguire notes that the NHL was itself formed as a result of a labour dispute between rival owners. "The basis of the debate that formed the NHL was centred around one man," he said.
In 1917, the franchise owners of the National Hockey Association were in constant conflict with the owner of the Toronto franchise, Eddie Livingstone, and set about starting their own league without him.
The NHL was formed the following season and has been the undisputed dominant league in the world ever since. But at its core, "it was a rogue league," Maguire said.
In fact, other leagues have attempted to start over the years, with mixed results.
Most recently, the WHA made a splash in the 1970s by poaching some of the NHL's biggest stars.
Maguire says the longer the current lockout between players and owners goes on, the more likely it is that a rival league will be formed to take away the NHL's dominance.
"If it were to exceed 12 months, all bets are off," he said. "There is an appetite for other competitive hockey if it can be presented in a form that's palatable."
He noted that the negotiating process at the moment is being driven by minority fringes on either side. Because of the way the league is structured, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman only needs the support of eight of the league's 30 owners to have a quorum on a proposal.
And similarly, out of roughly 700 NHL players, only 60 (two from each team) are represented in bargaining in any real way.
"There's a fairly large number on both sides that may very quickly lose an appetite," Maguire says.
But ultimately, he suspects any such move would likely be decided in court anyway.
"When you start affecting billions of dollars, I believe all bets are off," Maguire says.
Meanwhile, the days fly by and devoted fans look for other interests.
A test of political ethics
Canada is a representative democracy which means that Canadian politicians are supposed to represent the people in the riding in which they are elected.
For many of their constituents, the life issues, which include abortion and physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, are of primary importance. Which is why they vote for someone whom they think will uphold their values in Parliament.
Yet despite the fact that at least two-thirds of Canadians — a majority — believe there should be some law regulating abortion and protecting viable unborn children (they have a chance of living if they are born), the majority of MPs have shown themselves unwilling to agree to a motion to study the Criminal Code's definition of when human life begins.
As representatives of a democracy, do the wishes of a majority not deserve to be considered in the Commons? Is the rejection of their wishes justified?
Surely this fundamental question requires discussion, which is all that Stephen Woodworth’s motion was calling for.
How then does the approach of a Prime Minister and 203 MPs who insist that a debate in Parliament is not needed — on the basis that “there’s nothing to discuss” about what legal protections an unborn child should be given under Canadian law — square with the principles of representative democracy?
Woodworth correctly argued that “whatever view one takes about abortion, Subsection 223(1) (of the Criminal Code, the sole focus of Motion 312) violates the principle of universal human rights by allowing Government, through a false definition of a human being, to deny the inherent worth and dignity of every human being.”
Surely this simple statement of fact demands discussion.
Moreover, if the case against giving legal protection to unborn children is so clear, why are those who support this supposition so opposed to examining it?
Or is this just another example of ethical politics as an oxymoron?