OTTAWA, Ont. - Violence in hockey has reached such a peak that only a full-blown royal commission can deal with it, says the NDP.
In the wake of the infamous Patrice Cormier elbow incident in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last month, the New Democrats are calling for a formal inquiry.
The Liberals, however, oppose the idea and there was no immediate reaction from the federal government.
NDP sports critic Glenn Thibeault and deputy leader Thomas Mulcair would have the royal commission look into violence in sports generally, but mentioned only hockey in their 20-minute news conference Tuesday.
The only troubling examples they raised were hockey incidents, with Cormier singled out as a case of things going very wrong in the sport.
On Jan. 17, a Cormier elbow left rival Mikael Tam convulsing on the ice. He suffered brain trauma and broken teeth.
The league suspended Cormier for the season.
Thibeault and Mulcair say an inquiry would bring together coaches, league officials, referees, players, doctors and others to look at all aspects of violence.
They say leagues can't handle the situation on their own.
"League authorities need to explain why a savage attack, which would result in charges of aggravated assault anywhere else, warrants nothing but a few game suspensions," said Thibeault.
"We need to look at all aspects and all of the causes from equipment, to social trends, coaching and officiating," he said.
"This is our game and we need to protect our players."
Mulcair said a royal commission could answer a lot of questions.
"The police and prosecutors need to explain why so few charges are laid following such acts at sporting events," said Mulcair. "People want to know: where's the justice?"
Liberal sports critic Joyce Murray said sports bodies are already working to deal with the problem and there's no need for politicians to jump in.
"Sports associations in Canada really have shown that they take this issue of excessive use force seriously," she said.
"That's the place that this needs to be dealt with before politicians have to get involved."