Town accustomed to dealing with bull

JOE WARMINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

"We will put a sign on the highway letting people know Shane Doan is from Halkirk." - Halkirk, Alta. Mayor Ross Elsasser

The people of Halkirk know the scent of bullcrap when they smell it.

After all, the Alberta village is famous for two things: Its well-attended annual Bull-a-rama bull riding competition is one.

And its own Captain Canada Shane Doan is the other.

Nothing is going to shake their pride of either. "I think the whole thing is stupid," declares Mayor Ross Elsasser yesterday of anybody suggesting their local hero is racist.

The mayor of the tiny village, located east of Red Deer, has already put the wheels in motion to show just how much support Shane has from the men, women and children of his hometown, which includes his own father Bernie, a former St. Louis Blues draft pick, and his sister Leighann, a well-known basketball star.

The mayor is referring to the ridiculous scandal in Ottawa of some Quebec politicians putting Team Canada Captain Doan in the hotseat over some alleged anti-French statements in a hockey game in Montreal in 2005.

Instead of dealing with extortion-style gas prices or better equipment for our soldiers at war, they are using their power and our energy on something like this.

Sadly, there are always people who will pull out the bigot card to try to stop the people of whom they are in envy. In Halkirk they know bulls but they also recognize bullying.

The ironic part of this is there are few in politics or hockey that are in Doan's league when it comes to class. He is the consummate gentleman.

Meanwhile, it's a disgrace for anybody on all sides of the house to be taking part in this.

But, still, some mysteriously want Doan stripped of the captaincy at the world championships in Russia and others were threatening to cut Hockey Canada funding.

Hockey Canada boss Bob Nicholson actually appeared before parliamentarians on the issue yesterday if you can imagine. Everybody from Don Cherry, Frank Mahovlich to Ken Dryden have weighed in on how crazy this is.

But in Halkirk it is personal. It hurts. Here they have somebody very special from their town achieving something equally as special as being the captain of Team Canada and it is smeared.

When they should be rejoicing, they are instead defending.

In small-town Alberta famous for bull-riding, ranching, cattle and oil fields, they are also famous for sticking up for one of their own. You don't mess with rural Alberta and you don't pile on one of their own!

"I am so disappointed in the politicians," said Doris Cordel, who has known Shane, a member of the 2006 Olympic team, since he was a kid. "They obviously don't know Shane.

"There is not a nicer person around."

Over at the restored, circa 1910, 10-room Halkirk Hotel publican Leona Robertson said people are in shock.

"I can't see him ever saying something like that," she said. "He is so well respected and comes from such a good family."

His parents operate the Christian Circle Square Ranch nearby and Shane is so square he's never even been in her tavern because he's "religious" and doesn't drink.

Swallowing a draft at that very bar Cody Gonda said: "I know Shane Doan well enough to know this is a bunch of garbage."

It's hard to get a unanimous vote on anything but in Halkirk all 115 residents are in agreement.

Mayor Elsasser suspects it will be the same when he takes a resolution to his two member council at next Tuesday's meeting to put a sign at the front of the village that says Welcome to Halkirk, home of Shane Doan, captain of Team Canada 2007 and captain of the Phoenix Coyotes.

"We have always talked about doing it but never have," he said.

That will change today. In fact, this afternoon, the mayor will be erecting a neon one that will say "Halkirk: Home of Shane Doan, Captain Team Canada 2007."

Hopefully the Quebec politicians won't ask for a royal commission of why it isn't in both official languages.

Anybody who knows Shane Doan -- who has already filed a $250,000 defamation suit against silly Liberal MP Denis Coderre and said he would donate his award to charity -- knows there is not a better guy around. All class.

When he was here for the 2004 World Cup, where he scored the winning goal for Canada, he was incredible with the fans. I have never seen a pro athlete sign more autographs with friendly banter and a smile.

They raise them well in Halkirk. Of course none of the phony politicians who have been pushing this have got a clue about Halkrik because they have never been there.

Perhaps Aug. 25 would be a good day to go.

That's when this year's Bull-a-rama competition takes place.

In the meantime the good people of Halkirk thought they had four more months before they have to deal with the stench that comes from those bulls.


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