Strike threatens to shelve ‘Hockey Day in Canada’

The strike between the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and its radio and television technicians is threatening the Jan. 5 broadcast of “Hockey Day in Canada”—an annual program that was to feature Fort Frances as one of its satellite towns this year.
If a deal is not reached by midnight Thursday (Dec. 20), the program will be axed, said Dave Egan, a board member with Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association and the main contact with the CBC.
“If it looks like they’ll be going back to the table and things look like they’ll be going in the right direction, they’ll proceed [with the show],” Egan said.
“But at the moment, it doesn’t look very good,” he admitted.
CBC spokesman Christian Hasse said the technicians include editors, switchers, field workers, and camera operators—basically people who are essential to a large undertaking such as broadcasting “Hockey Day in Canada.”
“We have promised the town of Windsor, N.S., where the show was supposed to be based, to definitely be there,” said Hasse. “Anything over and above that will have to be discussed with the show’s producer.”
Hasse would not say whether Fort Frances would be featured in next season’s broadcast should the strike axe this one.
The FFMHA had announced its participation in the show Oct. 23 after being asked by “Hockey Day in Canada” producers. The original format was to have Fort Frances as one of nine places the program would bounce back and forth to while showing live shots of afternoon minor hockey games.
The other live remotes had included St. John’s, Nfld., Montreal, P.Q., Kingston, Ont., The Pas, Man., Saskatoon, Sask., Lac la Biche, Alta., Whitehorse, Yukon, and Kamloops, B.C.
The third-annual show—which coincides with a triple-header featuring all six Canadian-based NHL teams in action—was to explore the cultural significance of hockey in Canada with feature stories and discussion panels.
By last month, the FFMHA was putting the finishing touches on a “jamboree” for that day, where teams from all age levels would play pickup games at the Ice for Kids Arena.
CBC technicians from across the country took strike action Dec. 6 to back contract demands. Bargaining had been going on for seven months, but problems arose when the CBC announced plans to unilaterally implement new terms of employment.
Egan said the situation is something entirely out of the FFMHA’s control, making things very frustrating.
“It’s an absolute disappointment,” said Egan, who also is co-coach of the local ‘AA’ Taggs Bantam team. “It would have been great exposure to be on the program.
“We, in itself, have a lot of excitement in hockey with a lot of the programs we have.
“We’ll get the chance to expose it and that day will come,” Egan added. “And if there’s [a last-minute deal], I’m confident we’ll be able to pull it off on short notice.”
Hasse said the triple-header—Ottawa visiting Toronto, Montreal against Calgary, and Edmonton in Vancouver—still will be aired along with a pre-game show and the premiere of the National Film Board’s “Shinny: the hockey in all of us.”