Hamilton MP Bob Bratina: CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie ‘wasn’t interested in my advice’

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie didn’t want to seek any guidance from member of parliament for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, Bob Bratina.

Bratina was a radio play-by-play voice for the Tiger-Cats and Argonauts in the CFL prior to his career in Canadian politics. The Hamilton native could have provided wise words on how Ambrosie was going to approach the standing committee on finance.

“So he did talk to me but wasn’t interested much in my advice as much as my support for his position that he presented to the finance committee,” Bratina told CHCH’s Bubba O’Neil.

“I don’t think he had the best advice in approaching it by appearing in public on the finance committee and kind of pleading poor because most people think that the league owners are all rich, which many of them are. And what do you need from us?”

Ambrosie asked for $30 million in working capital to maintain operations through the pandemic and estimates the league could need as much as an additional $120 million over the next two years — if the most negative scenarios, all of them, come true. However, there was no plan for how exactly the money would be used.

“So I think Mr. Ambrosie was under the direction of the governors, and that’s who hired him, and he was asked to do what he did by them. And that’s how it came out, but I don’t think it was very effective,” Bratina said.

The CFL players were unaccounted for in terms of presence with Ambrosie and also in the financial ask from the Canadian government. That part didn’t seem to concern Bratina as much as other members of parliament. Instead, Bratina was focused on the CFL being viewed differently compared to major pro sports leagues in North America.

“Professional sports like the Canadian Football League is not quite where I’m at because the CFL is very unique. The league has had its problems over the years, but Grey Cup, all of the things surrounding the league, visits to children’s hospitals by players, so I don’t think a one size fits all program would work for the CFL,” Bratina said.

“The CFL needs to be looked at in terms of nine teams times about 200 or 300 people, several thousand people affected including players, including fans, including all the great folks who do concessions, who clean up after — there’s so many people involved in a CFL game, times all of the cities.”

Just like a veteran mentoring a rookie, if Ambrosie called, Bratina would be be open to helping the league with its pitch for financial aid. He’s been in the politics game for a long time and could provide a trusted sounding board.

“They need to approach it in a different way,” Bratina said, “and I’d be glad to give them my suggestions if they wanted to ask.”