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'Thugs and thieves and lunatics': MPs decry Vancouver hockey riots

A Canucks fan poses for photos in front of an overturned pickup truck as it burns in downtown Vancouver after Game 7 of Stanley Cup finals on June 15, 2011.

ANTHONY BOLANTE/REUTERS

The Globe asked a couple of politicians to respond to the violence that erupted Wednesday night in Vancouver after the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. One MP is calling for an inquiry and another wants the NHL to create a culture that doesn't encourage this kind of violence.

Coincidentally, the Official Opposition New Democrats will convene in Vancouver on Friday for their policy convention. Pat Martin, a veteran Winnipeg MP whose city just been got its NHL team back, calls the mayhem "a cautionary tale" for hockey.

"We have to remember those weren't hockey fans trashing the most beautiful city in the world last night; they were thugs and thieves and lunatics," Mr. Martin said. "Hockey is founded on a code of honour that prescribes dignified behaviour in victory and defeat. ... Ask Don Cherry about 'the code'. It's part of the beauty of the game."

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Mr. Martin said "we have nothing to fear from real hockey fans in Winnipeg. Winnipeg fans come to Portage and Main to cheer their team, not burn cars."

He argued the NHL has some responsibility to promote "the culture of hockey as one that won't tolerate this kind of mayhem."

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae chimed in, too. Condemning the riots as a "disgrace," he said: "To lay this at the door of a 'few agitators' ignores the numbers who egged on the destruction of property and completely unnecessary confrontation with the police."

"I don't think we fully understand what happened or why," Mr. Rae said. " The deeper causes also have to be examined – a short, sharp and informed inquiry would be a good idea, as well as effective prosecution of the crimes committed."

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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