Feds suggest a dangerous precedent

Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

Prime Minister Stephen Harper should take a giant step backwards and re-consider his views on allocating federal government money for the funding of a new hockey arena for Quebec City.

While it’s apparent there is National Hockey League interest in returning to Quebec City, and there is potential ownership in place, building an arena that is partially funded by federal money is dangerous precedent setting for any government and certain to create more chasms in the Canadian political scene than it’s worth.

In fact, Marcel Aubut, former owner of the Nordiques, has been telling people for some time that the NHL is closer to returning to Quebec than “you might imagine.”

But here’s the problem: If federal money pays for a Quebec arena, why not federal money to renovate Copps Coliseum in Hamilton or federal money for a new football stadium in Regina or federal money for new arenas in Edmonton or Calgary or federal money for a second arena in Southern Ontario for another NHL team for this rich hockey market.

Where do you begin — and where do you end?

Maybe Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach had it right when he said federal funding for the Quebec City arena would mean that Tories may be “getting close to an election.”

We hope it’s not that. We hope common sense prevails. But because it’s government, you just don’t know.

THIS AND THAT

A Sunday question: If Tomas Kaberle is the power-play specialist he is purported to be, how come the Maple Leafs have been 30th, 16th, 15th and 16th with the man advantage the past four seasons? And did you know the last time the Leafs had a high-end power play, Bryan McCabe played the part of shooter and Jason Allison handled the puck down low ... Is it just me, or does Dion Phaneuf look like he’d rather be a thousand other places rather than in front of a television camera talking about the team he captains. He makes me feel uncomfortable just watching him ... The Kitchener Rangers won’t say a word about suspended junior Mike Liambis being invited to the Leafs camp, even though it must quietly irk them. Why? There’s nothing to gain and also they’d love to be the location for Jerry D’Amigo if he doesn’t make the Leafs or Marlies rosters ... Liambis, by the way, is barely ECHL level, so shouldn’t the cellar-dwelling Leafs have more important things to do than insult the Fanelli family of Toronto by initiating this rather unimportant piece of publicity stunt ... Digger Turnbull’s annual Hockey Forecaster magazine is out, and it says Phil Kessel will score 40 goals this season, which is about the number of points he anticipates for Tyler Seguin.

HEAR AND THERE

The best Raptors news of a miserable summer: Linas Kleiza has really impressed people with his play at the world basketball championship. The basketball people I trust are raving about him ... For the quality of the entertainment and the ball teams, fans in Tampa and Toronto should be embarrassed by the lack of attendance at their games. That said, in Toronto, between the ball park, the overpriced food, the foolish cable decisions and the lack of service at games, there’s a lot of reasons not to go to Jays games if you’re not a crazy baseball fan ... The Devils aren’t the only NHL team that has some salary cap paring to do in the next month. The Vancouver Canucks need to move $3.6 million US in salary and the Boston Bruins are just behind them at $3 million. How comfortable willl training camp be with veterans worrying about who’s getting moved or shipped to the minors? ... I don’t know why this continues to amuse me, but it does: Saturday was another guaranteed win game for David Braley ... Department of no surprise: The ex-wrestler, Jim (The Anvil) Neidhart, was arrested this week in nowhere Florida for possession of Oxycontin and methadone. Bet you didn’t know The Anvil tried out for the Calgary Stampeders prior to turning to wrestling.

SCENE AND HEARD

What a pleasure it has been to monitor the daily numbers of Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto and the legend, Albert Pujols through this National League season. The three are within five home runs of each other, one RBI apart, and 25 batting points. The amazing part of this chase: There won’t be a Triple Crown winner but there was almost three ... Things that scare me: Spiders, dark rooms, Brian Tallet in close games, and Jonathan St. Pierre trying to play tackle for the Argos ... My pal Terry Jones, not the crazy preacher, came up with this one: For the first time in 22 years, fewer than 40,000 people showed up in Edmonton to watch the Stampeders play a post-Labour Day rematch ... That 46-1 wasn’t just the shocking score of Western versus Laurier in football. It’s also the discrepancy in home runs between Jose Bautista and the man he was traded for, Robinzon Diaz. Diaz, for the record, hit his home run playing for the Toledo Mudhens this summer ... The former Raptor, Ed Pinckney, is about to take a coaching position with the Chicago Bulls ... Never mind his crappy season, it’s entirely possible that no one — unless Mariano Rivera plays three more years — will ever hit Trevor Hoffman’s mark of 600 career saves in a career.

And another thing

Pat Riley finally unloaded on all the critics of his Miami Heat summer. “Charles Barkley, to me, went way, way, way over the top, taking those personal attacks. I think Charles is the only guy in the league who can get away with what he gets away with. Calling those guys (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh) a bunch of punks is a personal attack. For him to say that is wrong.” Over to you, Charles ... Back in business, Cash Pomer, the best football handicapper I know. In fact, the only football handicapper I know ... A fighter whose name is better than his jab: Tyson Fury ... Money can buy happiness: This is the New York Yankees 18th straight winning season ... Why is it assumed that Peyton Manning is deserving of more money than Tom Brady? On the Super Bowl count, isn’t it Brady 3, Manning 1 ... The first big-time UFC card is expected to be held at Rogers Centre in March ... The Atlanta Thrashers say that Dustin Byfuglien will play defence for them this season. Good luck to them. I’ll give it 10 games before Byfuglien is spending more time in front of the opposition’s net rather than in front of his own ... Happy (and healthy) birthday to Mike Murphy (60), Mickey Lolich (70), Yao Ming (30), Neil Peart (57), Mark Knopfler (61) and Irina Rodnina (61) ... And hey, whatever became of Geno Petralli?

KABERLE AND CONFRONTATION

Let’s see if we have this straight.

Tomas Kaberle’s father says his son has a problem with coach Ron Wilson. Some of Kaberle’s closest friends say the same thing.

And some who do business with him echo that sentiment. It seems everyone around Kaberle says one thing — he says the opposite. So when you have a problem with your employer, who do you tell?

You may tell a parent, a friend, even a business associate. Just not necessarily the boss. You don’t want to deal with that. He doesn’t want that.

It’s human nature to avoid personal confrontation, which is also how Kaberle plays on the ice.

But don’t believe for a second that all is well and he’s happy. All isn’t well.

WELLS' STATS MISLEADING

At first glance, this looks like a major comeback year for Vernon Wells. He could end up with 30 home runs and 80-plus RBIs, which seems like a nice season. But baseball numbers can be read in so many different ways.

Upon further investigation, Wells remains one of the most grossly overpaid, slightly flawed talents in baseball.

For example, Wells is hitting a feeble .188 against left-handed pitching, which is almost unexplainable for a right-handed power hitter. He had two great months to begin the season, then three months when he hardly contributed.

Wells can’t live up to his contract numbers: We know that now.

But a more consistent Wells can play a larger role in helping the Blue Jays win than he did for almost half of this season.

I AM A TWITTER ADDICT

There is a parallel universe going on out there called social media that most of us simply choose to ignore.

And by most of us, I mean, 80 to 90% of the people I know.

Yet, out there in the Twitter world, there are wonderful things happening — sports writers from the same establishment squabbling over steroids, fights over what is or isn’t plagiarism, hockey players such as Dan Ellis complaining about escrow payments and then quitting from the negative response, and stories being broken on almost a daily basis.

I can admit now. My name is Steve and I am a Twitter addict, just as I’m addicted to newspapers. But it is remarkable to me just how much interesting work is out there that most us — who ignore social media — will never know or hear about.

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/simmonssteve


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