Politics

Jack Todd: Shame on sports figures who supported invasion of Ottawa


Any drawn into the maelstrom created by a noisy but tiny minority will have to understand that there will be fallout.

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They danced and defecated on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They defaced the Terry Fox statue.

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They invaded our national capital, screamed racist and sexist insults at anyone who crossed their path who wasn’t white and male, parked where they pleased, blocked streets — and intimidated workers at a homeless shelter until they were given meals intended for the homeless.

They were invaders, not protesters. Belligerent, angry for reasons few could articulate, crude, loud and obnoxious. Incapable of understanding the most basic civic truth, which is that most of the mandates they were screeching about were a provincial jurisdiction, not federal at all.

And yet Don Cherry, who during his heyday liked nothing more than to get weepy over Terry Fox or the military, backed them to the hilt, as did an embarrassing number of figures from the world of sports.

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Some of the supporters of the convoy were (and remain) strident to a degree unimaginable even a few short years ago: like poor Theo Fleury, whose personal history is an unfolding tragedy. Like former referee Kerry Fraser, who has made a career out of making himself hated. And (perhaps most surprisingly) former figure skater Jamie Sale, from a sport not generally known for right-wing extremism.

Locally, Angela Price and Julie Petry, the wives of Carey Price and Jeff Petry, weighed in with support for the so-called “Freedom Convoy” that was more naïve than strident — but in these fraught times, taking a stand in support of any extremist movement is not going to go unnoticed.

It’s important to note Price and Petry are not responsible for what their wives say on social media and no one is trying to muzzle either woman — but the Canadiens organization is inevitably implicated during a season in which this is just one more thing that has gone wrong.

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In the light of some public statements from Angela Price, there have been rumours Price himself was not vaccinated and that was the reason he has remained out of the lineup — but an impeccable source has confirmed Price is, in fact, vaccinated, as is his wife.

(As of this writing, we don’t know why Price has remained off the ice for the entire season to date, but that will presumably become clear after his press conference with general manager Kent Hughes, scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Sunday.)

Petry, meanwhile, has come under increasingly heavy fire for his miserable season, culminating in calls for him to have the “A” removed from his jersey after he failed to challenge Edmonton heavyweight Zack Kassian after Kassian ran Canadiens goalie Sam Montembeault in the crease Saturday.

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Petry was a key figure in the playoff run, and during the first half of last season he was a bona fide Norris Trophy contender. The player wearing his jersey today doesn’t appear to be distantly related to the one he was last season. Has Petry’s performance been affected by his wife’s public complaints about how she is treated in Quebec or her support for the convoy? Is she likely to change her position? Who knows.

Some of the less committed among those who offered public support for the convoy may want to rethink their positions in light of what happened Saturday in Ottawa. Others, such as Fleury, Fraser and Sale, are surely too far gone into the twilight zone to be reached.

The full weight of the Ottawa invasion will be felt in this country for decades — and questions will be asked as to why such behaviour on the part of Indigenous groups would have been met with overwhelming force, while the convoy was tolerated by police and actively encouraged by prominent political figures.

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The result should have been horrifying, no matter what your political persuasion. Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians described it best:

“I am so sad for my city tonight. Terrible noise, gridlock, diesel pollution, swastikas, Confederate flags, anti-maskers screaming at store clerks, white supremacists. …”

Irwin Cotler, former minister of justice and attorney general and founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, said this: “Freedom of expression, assembly and association are cornerstones of democracy; but Nazi symbolism, racist imagery and desecration of war memorials are not. It is an insult to memory and truth.”

It is. And any sports figure drawn into the maelstrom created by a noisy, but tiny, minority will have to understand there will be fallout.

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Why? Because those who have refused to get their shots make up a disproportionate percentage of those in hospitals and ICUs. Yes, you can end up in the ICU even if you are fully vaccinated — but the chances are significantly worse if you are unvaccinated.

It’s a simple equation, really. And it’s a pity that it eludes so many.

Heroes: Milan Borjan, Tajon Buchanan, Jonathan David, Ash Barty, Daniel Collins, Daniil Medvedev, Félix Auger-Aliassime, Jake Evans, Samuel Montembeault, &&&& last but not least, the one and only Rafael Nadal.

Zeros: Don Cherry, Kerry Fraser, Jamie Sale, Theo Fleury, Jeff Petry, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria. Now and forever.

jacktodd46@yahoo.com

twitter.com/jacktodd46

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