Mr. Donald Maclnnis (Cape Breton-Last Richmond):
Mr. Speaker, at the outset may I say I regret that the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Lalonde) has seen fit to involve himself in professional sports. We are all aware of the fact that hon. members of this House welcome the idea of the physical fitness and amateur sports assistance made available by the government. I think it is more fact than rumour that the NHL headquarters will be moving out of Montreal when Mr. Campbell completes his term of office. There goes the national aspect of the Canadian game! Will the minister be prepared to introduce legislation to compel the National Hockey League-we have only three teams left in this country-to keep its headquarters in this country where it
April 22, 1974
belongs. We might look at the preamble to the bill. It begins this way:
Whereas football has an established tradition in Canada as witnessed by the Cup symbolizing football supremacy in Canada, which was donated by His Excellency, the late Governor General Earl Grey in 1909 for that purpose;
That is absolutely false and incorrect. I am under the impression that probably the minister received some pretty bad advice from Senator Keith Davey whose tenure of office as Commissioner of the football league did not see him through one season. I think the failure of Senator Davey has a lot to do with the minister being poorly advised.
Now we come to the definitions in the bill and we find the following one:
"football" means Canadian football and American football but does not include soccer or rugby;
How has the minister gone so wrong? In the first place, let me point out that Governor General Earl Grey donated the Grey Cup for rugby football, not professional football. In those days rugby football was played as an amateur sport. On what has the minister based himself? The minister referred to all the things that have been said in favour of the action proposed by the government in this bill. He quoted various authorities. He quoted the players' associations, and he came up with the name of George Reed who is an American. I want it completely understood here that I am not criticizing George Reed as a football player. His contribution to the game in Canada has been outstanding. No man has ever established the records that he has, nor do I think anyone will for a long time approach the record that this man has established. He has meant much to the game in Canada and to the team for which he plays. George Reed stands alone in this particular sport. He has been symbolic of the best there is. However, when the minister, speaking about protecting the Canadian Football League, quotes an American player, I think he is straying far from the intention of his legislation.
Now let us speak for a minute about the game itself and the importance of competition. I think, personally, that the establishment of more teams in Canada is good. It will certainly provide greater opportunities for a greater number of Canadians to participate in the sport in view of the fact that a certain number of them will have to fill up the rosters. It is a possibility that the opening up of opportunities and the establishment of more teams will cause the deterioration of the game. But that does not mean a thing. It is competition that makes the game, no matter what type of game is being played.
I can say without fear of contradiction that the worst game of hockey I ever watched was between the Chicago Black Hawks and the Toronto Maple Leafs. I watched the best players and at the same time I watched the worst game. It is the competition that counts. Horseracing fans in this country will know that a race run in two-eighteen or two-twenty can be just as exciting as one run in two flat because of the competition. It is what is happening at the end of the game which makes the game itself come alive-it is competition.
Canadian Professional Football
I am also somewhat disturbed about the geography brought in here. First we talk about Vancouver, and then we come all the way down to Montreal. I always understood that the country stretched from Victoria to St. John's, Newfoundland.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: CANADIAN FOOTBALL ACT