Outdoor Hockey Game—Sesquicentennial Anniversary

Hon. Jim Munson: Minister, this might be the easiest question you’re going to get here today. I’m an Ottawa senator and I’m a hockey player, too. I recognize, minister, that you’re probably a Montreal Canadiens fan, and so am I — and a Sens fan. I recognize you had to make the decision — or somebody did, but you’re the minister, the boss — of not having a big-time NHL hockey game here at the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of our country. The money-grab by the NHL — I can see the argument of taxpayers paying for that, and that’s not a good thing. But it is a celebration of our country. There’s something romantic and very Canadian about playing a game on the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of our country on the lawns of Parliament Hill.

I would just like you to consider this: With the excitement and energy that will be around in December 2017, why not have somebody — there are lots of people who like to work here in the wintertime — build a small temporary rink and use a smaller Zamboni, like they have at Lansdowne Park, and have a game with ex-Ottawa Senators, alumni, against our parliamentarians? That would still be a draw. We could have a few senators here who still play the game. By the way, I scored last night in a 4-3 victory. But I was not playing against the current crop of NHL players.

I think that would really work here. People would come out to see it in the old-fashioned way, with an old-fashioned rink like you see in the villages of Quebec and across this country. It could be former Ottawa Senators playing members of the House of Commons and the Senate.

Hon. Mélanie Joly, P.C., M.P., Minister of Canadian Heritage: I feel the passion of the honourable senator and I share it. I must confess; I’m a Montreal Canadiens fan.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Ms. Joly: Thank you.

But it’s important to be talking about hockey in the context of 2017 because it’s going to be the one hundredth anniversary of the NHL. Of course, we will be supporting this one hundredth anniversary at Canadian Heritage.

I take into account the importance you’re giving to having a rink in front of Parliament. Certainly, we’re looking into ways to celebrate 2017 in November and December next year. We’re looking at different scenarios.

When it comes to the rink itself and having a capacity of 30,000 people, I had the chance to work with the Speaker and both houses. Because of security reasons and bearing the risks of the houses being interrupted, these considerations were taken into account in order to take the decision we took as a government.

But I feel your passion for hockey, and I’ll bear in mind a smaller rink.