Archive | October 30, 2013

To fight or not to fight that is the question

October 30, 2013

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By Hafiz Karim – Thompson Rivers University 2L JD Student

Fighting in hockey: it has always been a contentious issue, but will it be taken out of the National Hockey League in the near future?  

Rule 46 of the Official NHL Rulebook governs fighting in the NHL.It sets out the criteria for what constitutes a fight, what the rules of a fight are, fines as well as everything else related to an NHL fight.Fighting has always been a part of the game and many are emphatic that fighting needs to remain in the game or the sport of hockey will not be the same.Most teams in the NHL have at least one player who acts as the designated tough guy or goon, and if fighting were no longer in the game, most of them would be out of a job.It is understandable that this group of players does not want fighting to be taken out of the game.Perhaps surprisingly, it is not only this small group of players who want fighting to remain in the game.In a recent article, Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks stated that “we’ll play with a tennis ball before we take fighting out” when asked about whether fighting should be removed from the NHL.Players around the league echoed Bieksa’s comment. 

For the most part, fans of the game of hockey love the fights that often occur.This is evidenced in the fact that the crowd at any arena in the NHL erupts and goes wild whenever there is a fight.Based on the reactions of the spectators, it seems that most of them get more excited about a fight than a goal.  This tells you a lot about how fans of the game view fighting in the NHL. 

Another popular view of why many players and fans believe that fighting should remain in the game is expressed by Vancouver Canucks’ enforcer Tom Sestito.Sestito states, “if you don’t have fighting in the game, there are going to be a lot of dirty hits.”He is referencing the idea of accountability on the ice and he believes that fighting holds players accountable.The idea is that without the threat of being challenged to a fight, there is no accountability and that injuries will actually increase because there will be more dirty hits.

Between player and fan support of fighting in the NHL, it seemed like it was going to stay.However, due to an event earlier this month, the debate of whether to remove fighting or not reopened.On the night of October 1st, in a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, Colton Orr and George Parros, the respective enforcers for their teams squared off.The two started throwing punches, which led to Orr losing his balance and falling down.Orr still had a hold of Parros’ jersey as he fell and as Parros threw a punch, he too lost balance and fell face first into the ice.Parros was knocked unconscious, suffered a concussion and had to be taken off the ice in a stretcher. 

This event caused four NHL general managers to come out and speak publicly against fighting in the NHL.Tampa Bay’s Steve Yzerman, Carolina’s Jim Rutherford, Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero and St. Louis’ Doug Armstrong all publicly said it was time that the league took a tougher stance on fighting.  This was significant because in the past the argument was that it was only the media who spoke out against fighting but the “real” hockey people recognized the value of fighting.That argument was laid to rest with the statements made by these general managers.Rutherford was very blunt and stated, “we’ve got to get rid of fighting.It has to go.” Yzerman made a strong argument by pointing out the efforts the league goes through to reduce head injuries by penalizing and suspending players for making contact with the head but they still allow fighting.He goes on to say that “we’re stuck in the middle and need to decide what kind of sport do we want to be.Either anything goes, and we accept the consequences, or take the next step and eliminate fighting.”

Will the NHL re-examine their policy on fighting in the league after the Parros injury and the public statements made by four of their general managers or will they continue to allow fighting in the league?Only time will tell.

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The Debate Surrounding Bill C-397- An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (Golfing Expenses)

October 30, 2013

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By Kelsey Petersen – Thompson Rivers University 2L JD Student

John Williamson, a conservative MP from New Brunswick, may have summarized the thoughts of many Canadians when he, upon learning of the proposition of Bill C-397, argued: “The NDP wants to help CEO’s take their friends golfing.  Many Canadians still can’t make ends meet. But the NDP wants to give a tax credit to corporations…for golf.” While this may be a legitimate concern, MP Randall Garrison, with the support of the federal government’s All Party Golf Caucus, has proposed a legislative amendment which will do just that.

Bill C-397, a private member’s bill currently in the Second Reading in the House of Commons, introduced legislation designed to amend subparagraph 18(1)(l)(i) of the Income Tax Act to permit the deduction of an expense incurred by a taxpayer for the use of a golf course or facility.The question to be put forth in Parliament, whether or not golf related fees can be considered a business expense, will also require having to answer whether there are legitimate distinctions between golf and the other sport and entertainment options that qualify for the deduction.

Currently, the Canadian Income Tax Act holds that businesses can deduct 50% of a meal or entertainment expense from their taxes so long as the event helps them earn income.Since 1971, golf has been held not to qualify for this deduction based on it being an ‘elitist activity’. Proponents of the legislative amendment argue that this is an outdated policy and the sport of golf is being unfairly disadvantaged by this categorization. 

An examination of the accepted sports and entertainment options provides a strong basis of support for an argument of inequality.Canadian companies can deduct the cost of hockey, football and other professional sporting events,concert tickets and expensive meals, all of which invites the question: why is golf not included amongst this category?Jacqueline Nelson, reporter with Canadian Business Magazine, sums up this argument by saying: “In the eyes of the tax man, deals conducted between swings aren’t equal to those done at the rink.” 

The grounds for an argument based on inequality are further supported by the fact that it was not until 1997 when federal laws were amended to include meals and beverages at a golf clubhouse in the 50% deduction. Golf has now evolved into one of Canada’s most popular recreational activities and contributes over $11 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product.One would be hard pressed to maintain the belief that golf courses and facilities do not provide a suitable venue to conduct business.

Parliament, on the other hand, argues that there remains a distinction between golf and other sporting events which allows golf fees to be excluded from an income tax deduction.A spokesperson for the Canadian Department of Finance argued that the business purpose associated with golf was “accessory or subordinate to the recreational and personal nature” of the golf activity.Furthermore, in a more recent report, the Department of Finance has stated that the limitation on the deductibility of golf is said to have been designed to ensure that businesses, using only disposable income to golf, assume the tax burden and do not force Canadian tax payers to subsidize their business outings.

Whether golf, and all other sporting and entertainment events, should be eligible for a 50% deduction under the Canadian Income Tax Act will inevitably be up for reevaluation; yet it is difficult to argue that business conducted at a golf course can be substantially differentiated from the accepted forms of entertainment so not to qualify for an income tax deduction.

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Difficulties in distinguishing disabled athletes

October 30, 2013

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By Mark Brade – Thompson Rivers University 2L JD Student

Within elite sporting events the necessity of ensuring athletes are in fair competition with one another has led to the creation of anti-doping programs, qualification scores, and other means of protecting the integrity of sport. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is faced with an unusual additional challenge; the difficult task of quantifying the disabilities of athletes in order to ensure balanced competition. Ensuring achievement of the equality and participatory standards expected of an international sporting event is a daunting task when consideration is given to the spectrum of possible impairment within just a single disability and the IPC has struggled to meet these obligations on an ongoing basis.

Managing an admissions system for athletes with intellectual disabilities raises particular challenges and this may explain why the category did not exist until the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games. The next Summer Paralympics to take place, at Sydney in 2000, saw the failure of the IPC to adequately protect the integrity of competition when only 2 out of 12 players on the Spanish basketball team were disabled. The president of the Spanish Federation for Mentally Handicapped Sports (FEDDI) had arranged for these players to avoid testing in order to dominate the competition, which they did by winning the gold medal. Once discovered the IPC revoked their medals however only the president of FEDDI was charged while a mixed group of 18 athletes and officials avoided court imposed sanction.

In response to their failure to protect disabled athletes the IPC cancelled intellectual disability competition until a reliable system could be created to determine eligibility. It was not until 2009 that the ban was lifted while the IPC instituted a series of ‘sports intelligence’ tests to confirm claimed disabilities. The new system requires an IQ score below 70 or 75, and satisfactory demonstration of a limitation in conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills assessed against through standardized testing. In addition to ignoring the documented cultural bias which exists in intelligence quotient testing the test demonstrates – even highlights – the differences between non-disabled and disabled athletes as a means of separating them. To an athlete seeking to assert him/herself as an elite performer on a world stage this is hardly an equitable or affirming system of evaluation.

Admissions criteria for athletes with non-intellectual disabilities have also been difficult to manage without controversy. Victoria Arlen is an 18-year-old swimmer who has been paralyzed since emerging from a three-year coma she entered while 11-years-old. Victoria has an autoimmune disease which attacks the spinal nervous bundle and swims without use of her legs and with limited mobility of her arms. The IPC has ruled her ineligible for competition because her condition may potentially not be permanent. The report relied upon by the IPC suggests that after years of physical therapy Victoria might be able to walk again. 

The nature of disability is not easy to describe and yet the Paralympic Games are considered the pinnacle sporting event for disabled athletes. The nature of the sport is competition among all those who are similarly limited in their ability to perform and winning is not intended to be a consolation prize for a disability. Accordingly, athletes who are equally disabled ought to be free to compete against one another without regard for whether one athlete may, possibly, one day be able to walk again. The potential that a non-disabled athlete who has had the benefit of being free of the training limitations of a disability may become disabled, compete, win, then recover, is not justification for denying a person who has a faint hope of recovery the opportunity to compete. The alternative is to create a two-tiered system which excludes athletes of equal disability due to the unpredictable nature of advances in medicine.

The Vision and Mission statement in the Constitution of the IPC states the organization seeks to uphold fundamental ethical principles and the spirit of fair play. It is a requirement of a fair and ethical competition that entry is based neither upon uncertain testing nor speculative assessments of future medical and personal accomplishments.

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