Books

My hockey book, by Stephen Harper

I love cheering for my side and trash-talking others. You can apply this to hockey, too.

Feschuk_March 2011_Harper interview

(Photo illustration by Maclean’s)

For years now, since before he became Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has been reportedly working on a book about hockey. He’s obviously never going to finish the thing—so I’ve written it for him. Welcome to the first draft of Stephen Harper’s Book About Hockey.

Introduction. When I first revealed that I was writing a book about hockey, some people were skeptical. They suspected it was a crass ploy designed to “humanize” me to the masses. But believe me: I don’t need to pretend to write a hockey book to make me seem human. That’s why I have a sweater vest, a psychic hairstylist and three blood transfusions a week. The real reason I wrote this book is because hockey is so great. It’s the best sport in the world, in that it is fast-paced, skilful and none of its professional players are gay-married. But hockey is not just a game for heterosexual multi-millionaires anymore! I’m told it is also sometimes played by children, the handicapped, or even females.

Chapter One: History of Hockey. The smell of the arena. The sound of a skate blade cutting through ice. The sight of an overly lyrical paragraph replete with images designed to invoke cheap patriotic sentiment. “[Hockey] is a team sport,” says the noted hockey historian Wiki Pedia. “Ice hockey is most popular in areas that are sufficiently cold for natural reliable seasonal ice cover.” Mr. Pedia goes on to describe hockey as “a year-round pastime” and “citation needed.”

Chapter Two: Gearing Up. Putting on a hockey uniform is a time-honoured ritual that spans generations. First the jock, then the shin pads, the colourful socks, the protective headgear—I never wore one myself as a boy, but it’s basically how I dressed for Dungeons & Dragons on Friday nights.

Chapter Three: My Favourite Team. I was born in Toronto. I grew up in Toronto. I attend Toronto Maple Leafs games and I have visited the Leafs dressing room. So I guess it’s safe to say that my favourite hockey team is [insert name of your favourite hockey team here]. As I often say: “Let’s go, [nickname of whichever team you said back there]! Let’s go!”

Chapter Four: My Favourite Player. Kids often write me letters to ask who’s my favourite hockey player, prompting me to reply: “How did you get this address?” But I will say this: while working on this book, I did a lot of research on Tim Horton. Over and over I read the name Tim Horton. He was a delicious and sometimes sticky player. Another filling player I researched was Wendy.

Chapter Five: Forms of Hockey. Hockey isn’t played only on ice. Sometimes, it is played on the road. Sometimes when teams are made, one kid is picked last—which emotionally scars this anonymous, nameless child even though I was way better than that fat Jenkins kid, but Jenkins had a hot sister, so of course Greg the captain picked him before the anonymous, unnamed me. Sometimes, the kid who gets picked last grows up to be Prime Minister and suddenly Greg the captain wakes up three consecutive years to discover, boom, tax audit.

Chapter Six: Being a Fan. I love cheering for my side, trash-talking others and rejecting the possibility that any point of view other than my own can possess even trace elements of merit. You can also apply this philosophy to hockey, I guess.

Chapter Seven: Theories on Victory. The Vancouver Canucks can never win the Stanley Cup—because if they were going to win the Stanley Cup, they would have already won the Stanley Cup by now. It’s just like what I said about the recession we aren’t not having right now.

Chapter Eight: I’d Be A Great Coach. Being Prime Minister is a lot like being a hockey coach. You have to be willing to make the tough decisions: who do you bench? When do you gamble? After walking your son to the rink as part of an awkward photo op, how do you say goodbye—firm handshake or notarized memorandum of farewell? Bottom line—I have all the qualities needed to succeed:

Perseverance. When I first took power, the opposition defeated a motion that would have renewed the extraordinary powers of the state to detain, interrogate and otherwise intimidate people of its choosing. So I had to come up with a new way of managing my cabinet.

Innovation. Some people say we need to cut back fossil fuels, limit carbon emissions and take global warming seriously. But this excludes more innovative solutions, such as free Bermuda shorts for all Inuit.

A suit. I own several suits.

Chapter Nine: Interesting Facts About Hockey. Did you know that hockey is the official national winter sport of Canada? You did know that? Oh. Well aren’t you a genius. Now I feel like an idiot. Why don’t you go ahead and finish this book on your own, Hockey Einstein!

Chapter Ten: About 200 Blank Pages.