OTTAWA TO NATIONALIZE NHL!
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
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
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
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.