Militarization of culture: crisis in Canadian hockey

TML Daily, June 11, 2007No. 94

SEVERAL THINGS do not sit well with the direction of Canadian hockey. U.S. continentalism and other factors have overwhelmed Canadian hockey and is wrenching it from its national base and destroying its connection with the social fibre of the country.

The Memorial Cup tournament took place in Vancouver from May 19 to May 27 but something was wrong and something was missing. This hockey tournament has been a permanent fixture in Canada since 1919. It originated as a Canadian youth tournament in memory of the 60,000 young Canadians who perished in World War I.

WWI was a wretched inter-imperialist unjust war that slaughtered an entire generation of Canadians. To memorialize such a tragic event is to pledge to uphold peaceful coexistence and abolish the use of violence in international affairs and to actively take up organizing for an anti-war government. At this juncture in our nation-building, memorializing the youthful victims of WWI must be connected with opposing Canada’s participation in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and calling for the withdrawal of Canada from NATO, NORAD and U.S. Northern Command.

The organizers of the Vancouver Memorial Cup slandered the memory of Canada’s generation of youth who died in the filth and squalor of trench warfare in Europe by staging an obscene promotion of the U.S.-led war of aggression and occupation in Afghanistan and by encouraging recruitment of the youth into the armed forces. In a blatant militarist style similar to what occurs at every major function in the U.S., the Memorial Cup was delivered to downtown Vancouver by the Canadian military. The Cup travelled by military transport plane to Vancouver Airport where it was transferred to an armoured personnel carrier and given a military escort to the Pacific Coliseum. This is not memorializing the youth who died as cannon fodder in WWI but preparing conditions for another generation of youth to be squandered in imperialist war.

This travesty of a national championship with militarism on display comes at the end of a season when the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League dismissed a player for expressing disagreement with Canadian participation in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. These events show that U.S.-style militarism is infecting every aspect of life in Canada. Canadians must rise to the occasion and oppose this militarism wherever it raises its ugly head and organize for an anti-war government.

MasterCard Memorial Cup

It is also significant that a section of the U.S. financial oligarchy has highjacked the memory of our fallen youth and an old Canadian institution. MasterCard has purchased the right to have its name directly associated with the Canadian junior hockey championship. The U.S.-led war for Empire in Afghanistan, military recruitment and finance capital are now directly connected with Canada’s historic junior hockey tournament.

Missing nation, missing regions

Significant as well were the teams participating in this year’s tournament. In the consciousness of most Canadians the Memorial Cup tournament should represent the best teams in Canadian junior hockey from its different regions. Vancouver Giants were there as the host team. The Giants’ participation was further legitimized, as it was runner up to the Western Hockey League Champion Medicine Hat Tigers from Alberta and actually won the tournament before their hometown fans May 27.

A team represented BC, another from the Prairies but what of the rest of the country and the nation of Quebec. Where was the team from Ontario? There was none. Where was the team from Quebec and the Maritimes? There was none. Vancouver Giants and Medicine Hat Tigers played but there was no team east of Alberta, at least east of Alberta in Canada. “Representing” Ontario was a team from the suburbs of Detroit owned by the U.S. monopoly Compuware. “Representing” Quebec and the Maritimes was a team from Maine. Only teams from BC, Alberta and the United States were in the tournament. The Memorial Cup did not properly reflect the different regions of Canada and did not include the nation of Quebec, which even the Parliament of Canada has recognized. Like so many other Canadian institutions the Memorial Cup has been annexed by U.S. imperialism. How can Canadians build a country if they cannot even hold national youth tournaments? How can Canadians forge unity with the Quebec nation if it is unrepresented at such events? All this is excused in a most neo-pragmatic manner that Canadian junior hockey expansion into the U.S. may become very profitable. This self-serving thinking is highly predictable because the Canadian Hockey League is a private hockey empire that has seized control of the Memorial Cup for its own narrow interests. The aim of the CHL is to expand its private capital as much and as fast as possible. Such a self-centred aim cannot possibly lead a national public institution let alone a nation-building project. Private narrow interests inevitably become annexed within the most dominant Empire, which at this time is the United States.

Hockey and disintegration of the social fabric

The choice of a certain player as Captain of the Canadian team at the World Hockey Championship in Europe this year was a deliberate provocation against Quebec. Hockey Canada knew very well that its choice would cause controversy. The player in question from rural Alberta is the subject of two court cases involving a Member of Parliament from Quebec and is widely perceived in Quebec as anti-French. These and other slights against Quebec are provocations to whip up anti-Quebec sentiment in the rest of Canada and block the movement of all Canadians and Quebeckers for renewal of the constitutional arrangement between Quebec and Canada to guarantee sovereignty of Quebec, Aboriginal First Nations and Canada. Canadians and Quebeckers should denounce these provocations and attempts to destroy the social fabric of the country and generate ill will.

Canadians could assist the movement to affirm Quebec’s sovereignty even with regard to hockey. Such is the case with the suggestion, which is gaining momentum in Quebec and appears to be a normal development towards sovereignty, that a Quebec national hockey team should represent the Quebec nation in international tournaments and within the context of Canadian championships such as the Memorial Cup.

As with everything else in Canada, hockey is in need of renewal. To stem the tide of U.S. continentalism and disintegration of the country, the people must demand changes. Hockey should not be used as a vehicle to promote U.S.-style militarism and recruitment for imperialist war. Hockey should not be used to generate hostility between the Quebec nation and the rest of Canada. Hockey should not be used to sponsor the domination of the U.S. financial oligarchy and annexation of Canada into the U.S. Empire.

Canadians cannot remain silent or passive before attempts to make annexation by the U.S. appear normal and inevitable, nor should Canadians remain silent when young athletes and hockey tournaments are manipulated to promote hatred against Quebec, imperialist war and Empire-building.

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  1. Pingback: Frozen meat | Friendship First, Competition Second – An Amateur Sport Website

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