Controversy follows after Canadian PM skips vote for hockey game

Monday, October 9, 2006

Controversy is being expressed over Stephen Harper's decision to skip the House of Commons vote for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change on Wednesday for a hockey game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Liberal MPs say that this reveals Mr. Harper's true attitude toward the environment. "It shows the importance he gives to Kyoto and climate change," said Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez. "What kind of example does that send to Canadians?"

Harper was with his ten-year-old son Ben cheering on for the Toronto Maple Leafs and sat in seats in the platinum level of the Air Canada Centre, next to Larry Tanenbaum, head of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Leafs. Also seated with Mr. Tanenbaum was Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and his wife, Terri.

"You know I'm dead meat if I make those kind of predictions in hockey," said Harper, who must juggle support from voters in six Canadian NHL cities. "I think Ben will be cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs," Harper told The Canadian Press. "That's his team."

Harper and his son met with the members of the Toronto team after the game was finished.

Opposition MPs say that "the decision to put pucks over Parliament shows that environmental issues rate as a low priority for Mr. Harper, who had no other reason to be in Toronto the day he attended the NHL season opener between the Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators."

Members of Parliament and the prime minister are not required to attend votes in the House of Commons and routinely miss them when dealing with other business. If Mr. Harper was there, his vote would not have changed the outcome.

The PM will be writing a whole book on the history of the game. But demands of his day job have slowed down the project.