Kimball Cariou: My beef with Stephen Harper and Don Cherry

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      By Kimball Cariou

      It's been an interesting few days since Hockey Fans For Peace hit the media radar. As cofounder, I've watched the small membership of our Facebook group suddenly triple, and I've done some major radio sports-talk-show interviews.

      This whole thing was largely sparked by Cherry's ugly rant at the inauguration of the new city council in Toronto. Cherry supporters argue that he simply "supports the troops".

      That claim was demolished over Christmas in Kandahar, where Cherry fired off artillery, autographed bombs, and bragged about "chasing the Taliban".

      But many hockey fans across Canada have been disturbed by a larger trend—the strategy of the Harper Conservatives to turn athletes and the Canadian Armed Forces into props for their war-making agenda.

      It's difficult these days to find a major sports event which does not incorporate reference to "our brave troops in Kandahar". For me, the most gut-wrenching was at the Oct. 31 Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. B.C. Lions game at Empire Stadium in Vancouver.

      The psychological aim of this strategy is to sow divisions among Canadians, particularly among the solid majority who want an early return home for the troops in Afghanistan. "Real" hockey fans and "real" Canadians, we are urged to believe, all "support the troops" and therefore back the alleged aims of the military mission.

      Anyone who questions this reasoning is immediately under suspicion. Such individuals are somehow not considered true fans or "patriotic" Canadians.

      Supposedly we "spit in the faces" of the troops. We are even accused of being "Taliban recruiters". (A Toronto Sun writer hurled this absurd slander at me on Jan. 7 during a call-in on 640 AM's "Opie Show"!).

      For fans like me on the Left, such outrageous lies are easy to dismiss. My credentials as a lifetime "true fan" of sports at every level are impeccable. I bleed Roughrider green when I cut my finger, or else the "bleu, blanc et rouge" of les Canadiens. I have a letter signed by New York Mets manager Casey Stengel, sent to me when I was just eight years old. I stop to watch Mabel League women's slo-pitch games at my neighbourhood ball diamond, and volleyball at Kits Beach. I go to every game of my son's Special Olympics soccer team.

      But for many Canadians who consider themselves sports fans, this campaign of intimidation can be stifling. That's why launching Hockey Fans For Peace was so important. We are showing the world that people can love hockey and speak out against the war.

      We won't let right-wing bullies dictate our beliefs and actions. We will keep cheering for our favourite teams, and we will continue to demand the immediate removal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan.

      So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Don and Stephen!

      Kimball Cariou is cofounder of the "Hockey Fans for Peace" Facebook group.

      Related articles:

      Canadian military downplays peacekeeping tradition

      Harper taps into hockey to aid political game



      Chris Collier

      Jan 7, 2011 at 8:31pm

      You are a misguided idiot(or genious;, they are never far apart are they). The majority of Canadian sports events never mention our Army. Don Cherry is doing what the rest of Canada should be doing. supporting our troops for as long as the governement keeps them in combat.
      There is not enough of our atheletes thanking our troops, like the US. Maybe because Canadians don't know what it like to live in fear and fuckery.
      I think you may be an OK kind of guy, but if you disrespect out troops, you are an idiot....


      Jan 7, 2011 at 9:10pm

      That's exactly what Harper and Cherry are doing. As a teenager I volunteered to join the airforce. I wanted out of the town I was raised in because of job choices. You either piled lumber or piled lumber. While in basic training, unbeknownst to us, we were being groomed for Viet Nam. Only when Pearson became Prime Minister was the focus changed. It's subtle but effective.

      That's exactly what the DND, Harper and Cherry are doing. They're trying to divide and conquer. It won't work. I will never support war. I am neither a LIbERal or a CONServative, I was happy later in my 20's, that we didn't go to Viet Nam after seeing through the US war machine. The same thing was going on with Bush with his line in the sand comment. Here's my line in the sand Harper, "Bring the troops home or suffer defeat at the polls". Here's Cherry's, "Shut up about troops and police and stick to hockey".

      Don Raspberry

      Jan 7, 2011 at 9:52pm

      What a douche this Kimball Caribou is


      Jan 7, 2011 at 10:50pm

      Kimball with all due respect this has nothing to do with Don Cherry in his usual blustery way cheering on the troops .This is about you trying to grab your 2 minutes of fame courtesy of the idiot network CBC on the backs of young men and women who have chosen to serve their country. Too bad you forgot conveniently it was the left wing Liberals that put us in Afghanistan. Should we be there ? No ! We should have never got involved in this mess in the first place .However as a child of WW2 from Scotland if it was not for the extraordinary valour of 1 million Canadian men and women you and I no doubt would not have the priviledge of voicing our opinions.

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      Jan 8, 2011 at 4:00am

      Canada suffers from a serious inferiority complex and serious confusion/uncertainty about Canadian identity (i.e. what it means to be Canadian).

      The tired, cliche Canadian í¼ber-obsession with hockey is a rather goofy attempt to rectify these issues.

      Oh, and Stephen Harper and Don Cherry are fucking twats.

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      Charles Croll

      Jan 8, 2011 at 6:00am

      I thought it was funny that you were so insulted by Cherry's comments about the military. After all that is what Cherry stands for and no one is kept in the dark about his connections or leanings, but it wasn't the military you are upset about it was the "Pinko" remarks he made. As a member of the communists you should maybe put that somewhere in the article so people who already know what communism is all about can simply skip to the next article.

      For instance "Kimball Cariou is a communist agitator and cofounder of the "Hockey Fans for Peace" Facebook group.

      Truth in Journalism

      jason Puleston

      Jan 8, 2011 at 10:37am

      your the one that making the division,nobodys questions whether your a sports fan or no!! But don't shve it down my throat.. Lets go ask are Canadian soilders how they like their visit from Don Cherry?? Their there to help are country and there not wasting their time as far as they are concerned!!! Don Cherry is more Canadian then anyone I know!!! Are you Canadian???? Cause if your are then you need to find out what the real issue's are in Canada that need to be delt with!!!! write me back on facebook if you think there's anything you want to say Jason puleston


      Jan 8, 2011 at 10:49am

      I LOVE hockey.

      I love the troops, after all I have friends and relatives serving.

      However, I hate this expensive, worthless, stupid "war" that is going to prove to be the bankruptcy of the US and the senseless loss of more than 150 Canadians.

      I can love hockey, peace, order and good government and hate the Afghanistan action, Don Cherry and the backwards nature of the Harper Conservative Party of Alberta, the BC Interior and backward towns of white people in Ontario.

      Where is the beef

      Jan 8, 2011 at 12:36pm

      Your starving me to death. Children in Canada are going without proper nutrition what is that all about? With rickets and diabetes on the rise. Surely you boast of riches and humanity and so much more.
      Put a stick in it! And what about women why do you do scare them to death. Women are leaving their conservative seats. No better than Campbell can you imagine that? Campbell is also really good at bullying the women in his cabinet, another familiar trait as another child needlessly faces death in BC .

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      ursa minor

      Jan 8, 2011 at 1:32pm

      Watch other sports telecasts from around the world, and Hockey Night and Canada, in particular the "Coaches Corner" segment comes across as so much propaganda it could have been produced in North Korea, HNIC goes far beyond the simple shout-out to the troops that takes place in NFL or MLB telecasts, and the "casualty of the week' that caps Cherry's segment is the most maudlin piece of self-righteous self-promotion this side of Terry Schivo.

      Enough already - kudos to Cariou and his group for taking on Cherry, HNIC, and their neofascist thug supporters who can do little more but snort insults and their angry little diatribes.

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