The worst part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s book about hockey?

Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon

So it turns out Stephen Harper really did write a book about hockey, and it really is going to be published. Although, given the PM’s pattern of behaviour, don’t be surprised if you get to Chapter 6 to discover the second half of the book has been prorogued.

You probably have questions about the Prime Minister’s book. I possibly have answers.

What’s it about? According to the publisher, A Great Game—due out in November—draws on “extensive archival records and illustrations, histories of the sport and newspaper files” to chronicle hockey’s early years, with a focus on “the hard-boiled businessmen who built the game.” (Alas, it appears credit for hockey’s growth will yet again elude the era’s over-easy businessmen.)

Word has it the book offers “a historian’s perspective and [a] fan’s passion.” It’s true Stephen Harper has passion to burn when it comes to hockey. You need a lot of internal fire to maintain the illusion that all seven Canadian teams are your favourite team.

Isn’t it weird for a leader to be publishing a book in office? Few would begrudge Harper his hobbies: writing, playing music, systematically draining the will to live from an endless procession of communications directors. But it’s legit to ask how he found the time, given all that business about our shores and so forth. SO MANY TROUBLES LAPPING! It makes for a bit of a mixed message, doesn’t it? Yes, yes, I’ll fix the economy—but first, I must tend to this anecdote about Newsy Lalonde!

At minimum, the book’s release opens us to some serious ribbing down at the UN. Governing Canada—now almost a full-time job.

Just how anticipated is this book? It’s been described in news stories as “much-awaited,” “long-awaited” and “hotly anticipated.” That’s right—HOTLY ANTICIPATED. First, there were wizards. Then vampires. And now, the tweens are bonkers for obscure, mustachioed hockey players from nineteen-aught-nine.

It’s probably more accurate to say that people are “awaiting” the book in the same way they “await” things like Coldplay albums or the bus—with an indifference tinged by faint curiosity. Or perhaps I’m naive and throngs will flock to Chapters at midnight, dressed as their favourite characters. (Dibs on Skein Ronan of the Renfrew Creamery Kings!)

What’s going to be the worst part of this? Definitely the book tour. This is a PM who pathologically avoids questions about, you know, governing and stuff. But prepare yourself for endless clips of him in a cozy sweater, droning on about life before the blue line. And, like all authors, he’ll shoehorn book promo into every opportunity. Check out this excerpt from future Hansard:

Mr. Harper: What is it that makes Canada great? Some say it’s our geography. Others say it’s the people. Many insist it’s the fact that my new book, A Great Game, published by Simon & Schuster, is available on Amazon for the remarkably low price of $21.37.

Some Hon. Members: Spend just $3.63 more for free Super-saver Shipping!

Any upside to this? We may finally get closure on a question that has long haunted our nation: Can our PM skate? The book’s publicity material cites Harper’s on-ice “career” with the Leaside Lions. But the PM has avoided strapping on the blades with a camera in the vicinity. I say: Come clean with the Canadian people! Or are you afraid the ensuing video would prompt a Liberal attack ad: Stephen Harper, ANKLE BURNER.

What’s with the J.? On the book’s cover, the author is listed as “Stephen J. Harper.” You may think that’s a little pretentious—but you’re wrong. It’s a lot pretentious. Do we have to call him that now? Ladies and gentleman, presenting the Prime Minister of Canada, and our dear guest here at Downton Abbey, Mr. Sir Stephen J. Harper, Earl of Leaside and King of Kensington. [Cue trumpet fanfare and 21-monocle salute.]

Now that he’s insisting on the middle initial, can we assume the PM will be adopting other affectations of the literary author? The ascot? The pipe? The drunken fistfights with Margaret Atwood?

Who is going to buy this book? To be fair, many Canadians will wake on Christmas morning to find A Great Game under the tree. I bet two of them will be Harper’s children.

Ben: Oh, gee, uh . . . thanks, Dad.

PM: That’s Stephen J. Dad, to you.

Follow Scott Feschuk on Twitter @scottfeschuk

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