01.20.2012 11:58 AM

Stephen Harper’s “hockey book”

This is the oldest story I could find in which Stephen Harper claims he is writing a book about hockey.  It’s dated April 13, 2006:

PM visits Alberta base to reaffirm support for Forces and Afghanistan mission
Canadian Press Newswire
Thu Apr 13 2006
Section: National General News

WAINWRIGHT, Alta. (CP) – Prime Minister Stephen Harper used a graduating ceremony for fresh-faced army recruits Thursday to emphasize his government’s support for the military and its mission in Afghanistan.

In a cavernous drill hall festooned with signs depicting past Canadian battle honours, Harper acted as reviewing officer as the unit of about 50 troops marched past bleachers filled with their family and friends.

Harper compared the service of troops in Kandahar to the sacrifices made by Canadians in the two world wars.

…Later Thursday, Harper took his young son to a NHL Calgary Flames hockey game.

The prime minister was careful not to give a prediction on who will win the Stanley Cup.

“I will get people more upset about my hockey opinions than any of my political opinions, but now that I’m in Calgary, how about this: I give the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators pretty good chances of winning the Stanley Cup.”

Harper, who had seats in the crowd, not in a private box, said he’s been working on a hockey book on professional hockey in the city of Toronto in the early 1900s.

“I’ve had an interest in hockey history since I was a boy and in the last few years I’ve used it as a kind of an escape form the pressures of the job.”

He said he had hoped to have it published by the end of this year but “since January 23rd, I’ve been spending a little less time on it than before, so we’ll see.”

It’s a half-decade later, and the book remains unpublished.  I find that odd.  I’m not a busy Prime Minister, of course, but I have a pretty busy firm, four busy kids, and lead a busy life.  And, since late October, I’ve written 55,000 words for my new book, which Random House is publishing in the Fall.  I don’t have 1,500 communications assistants to help me research the book, like Harper does.  Oh, and I’ve written three books in the time that Harper’s been “writing” his.

Part of my book is about how Harper has consciously (and cynically) sought out the Tim’s-drinking, Afghanistan-war-supporting, hockey Dad demographic, even though he seems to be faking it.

If anyone else has an earlier reference to Harper’s hockey book, which I am getting closer to calling “bullshit” about, please send it along.

As such, you can consider yourself one of my research assistants.  And I will name you and thank you in my book.

Which is coming out.



  1. Joey Rapaport says:

    Maybe the book is lame and he doesn’t want it to come out while in office??? Can’t be more boring than his persona though

  2. Lala says:

    I’m on my iPhone, sitting in a Midas getting my Jeep tuned up, but I think I got it:

  3. Richard says:

    January 24, 2006, New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/22/world/americas/22iht-canada.html

    “Stephen Harper, 46, an economist and social conservative who is writing a history of ice hockey, appears poised to lead his Conservative Party to victory over Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Liberal Party, something that seemed highly improbable just a few weeks ago.”

  4. johnny was says:

    I’m sure Harper’s take on hockey will be as enlightening as Don Cherry’s views on politics.

    • Michael S says:

      We have a winner!

      However, it may be that he’s waiting for iBooks2 because he’s a fan of Apple’s greedy control freakish licensing model.

  5. Rob says:

    Thank you for finally pointing out what a farce this “book writing” exercise has become. It’s simply a ploy to make Harper look like an every day guy. Does he even have a publishier lined up? I have been writing the great Canadian novel for the past 10 years, but no one seems to want to write about that!

  6. Niall says:


    The book is a stunt? Really?

    You’re an offensive schmuck.
    And, when Steven Harper’s book is (eventually) published, I will remind you of your schmuckyness.

    Yours truly,

    Niall from Winnipeg

    • Warren says:

      Listen, douchebag, it’s been seven years. Get stuffed.

    • Ted says:

      He’s said a few times, as far back as 2006, that it was only a year away from being done.

      Funny thing is, the only times Harper ever seems to mention the book is during election campaigns.

      But you’re right. No stunt here. Warren is the offensive schmuck here.

      • The Doctor says:

        Actually Ted, I don’t think the average voter gives a flying f*ck whether or not Harper is writing a book, about hockey or anything else. What the average voter cares about is how he’s running the country. Now, if he was so obsessed with his book that it was noticeably interfering with his duties as PM, that would be another matter. But that doesn’t seem to be what WK is arguing here.

        • Ted B says:

          Agreed. Except that bit by bit, these are the kind of arrogant manipulations and dishonesty that turn people off. Likeability gets many a politician over bumpy patches. Harper is not liked by Canadians and there is only so long he can rely on the incompetence and uselessness of the opposition.

    • Sean says:

      when half of Harper’s office is either in jail or publicly disgraced beyond repair, will you still buy his stupid hockey book?

  7. Brad Young says:

    I am working on a book on the writings of Canadian Prime Ministers writing on Hockey, I am hoping Steve will write the foreward. If he can pull himself away from his book.

  8. Kre8tv says:

    By this point, however long it takes for the book to come out (if ever), it’ll have taken Guns and Roses less time to make Chinese Democracy.

  9. Stephen M. says:

    I have a reference from June 17, 2005 and a CP story from December 22, 2005. I only have them in PDF format though.

  10. Michael Bussiere says:

    How original. Here’s a piece of fiction; Harper is an economist. No PhD, no career as one. Would John McCallum or Mark Carney consider him an economist? Let’s ask that question regularly.

  11. Ted says:

    The Maclean’s link from Lala above refers to a Globe and Mail story from 2005 which, interestingly, states “Mr. Harper is penning a tome on the history of professional hockey in Alberta“.

    Yet, Warren’s article says “he’s been working on a hockey book on professional hockey in the city of Toronto in the early 1900s.

  12. Brian Busby says:

    The first I ever heard of the elusive, deferred and delayed hockey book was during the 2006 election campaign. (I don’t think there’s anything coincidental in this.)

    I’ve been keeping watch ever since – and so have read a good many promises over the years. In April 2006, for example, he told CBC that he expected to complete the book within the year:


    Back in September 2008 – again, during an election campaign – the prime minister went on about his hockey book in the Globe and Mail:


    Note the prime minister’s claim that three months of interrupted time was all he needed to finish the book.

    Thus far there’s been only one teaser, a 700-word glimpse that was published in the 23 December 2006 edition of the Toronto Star:


    As I’ve written elsewhere – http://brianbusby.blogspot.com/2011/05/ignatieffs-ink-and-harpers-hockey-book.html – there’s no sign of original research or thought in the piece.

    A bit more at my (sometime) Harper Hockey Book Watch:


    • Chris says:

      I’d chalk a lot of this up to lazy/pandering journalists asking easy questions.

      • The Doctor says:

        Yes, I’m sure that the intrepid journalist who gets to the bottom of this brewing, major political scandal will be heralded as the Second Coming of Woodward & Bernstein.

        It’ll be even bigger than Wafergate.

  13. Jim Hanna says:

    …or the amount of time it took “When we were Kings” to be released…isnt there a film that was made and never released by Jerry Lewis? The Day the Clown Cried (Gotta love the internet)…a rich vein of mockery here…start sending 22 minutes ona Harper Book Watch

  14. Ted H says:

    Who cares anyway? Some may consider it un-Canadian but I don’t give a damn about hockey. I never watch season games, might watch a playoff game once every three or four years, usually watch the Olympic game if Canada is in it. The possibility of reading any book by Harper is zero. If it is a book about hockey, less than zero.

    I would wager I am not the only Canadian who has no interest in hockey even though it is our national religion, besides the teams choke up too often for my liking.

  15. que sera sera says:

    It’s gotta be tough researching a book about hockey in Toronto (as quoted in Kinsella’s blurb: “Harper, who had seats in the crowd, not in a private box, said he’s been working on a hockey book on professional hockey in the city of Toronto in the early 1900s.”) when Harper is apparently looking in Alberta (as quoted in Lala’s Macleans blurb:”Rather, Mr. Harper is penning a tome on the history of professional hockey in Alberta.”).

    The book is probably already written & published & on the bestseller fiction lists on whatever planet that claims Toronto, Alberta as home.

  16. Adrian ZB says:

    Warren, I found this article from June 18, 2005 from the Globe and Mail. Thing is, the article says Harper’s book is on the history of pro hockey in Alberta, not Toronto. I’m not sure if it’s still useable but here it is anyway:

    “Coach Harper, Sports Historian”
    By: Jane Taber
    Page: A5

    Relevant part of article:

    Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is known for his intellect and policy-wonk ways. However, he is also an armchair sports fan (the Toronto Maple Leafs come to mind) and is planning to publish a book that has nothing to do with politics or policy. Rather, Mr. Harper is penning a tome on the history of professional hockey in Alberta. Harper insiders say that he began researching and writing the book as a hobby but it has become a more serious venture as he acquired more and more information. He is researching it from primary sources, and firsthand accounts dating back to the turn of the last century, says a friend, who is familiar with the progress of the book.


    Also, I found another Globe and Mail piece from January 14, 2006. Again, this doesn’t specifically mention he’s writing the history of pro hockey in Toronto, it just says he’s writing a book on the history of hockey:

    “Who is Stephen Harper?”
    John Ibbitson
    Page: A1

    Relevant piece of article:

    And he has his passions. He is writing a book on the history of hockey, and has been working on it every night, even during the campaign. Mr. Harper knows a lot about hockey. In the last election campaign, the Air Canada crew circulated a hockey trivia quiz, Mr. Harper won, with only one wrong answer, which he promptly challenged, claiming the answer on the quiz was wrong. (Whether Mr. Harper or the quizmaster was right has been lost in the mists.)

  17. Iris Mclean says:

    You can use this in your book Warren, and I won’t bill you for it.
    “Stephen Harper is an asshole.” It’s yours. Feel free to use it.

  18. Steve says:

    in summary Liberals killed hockey, with the equalization of teams.

  19. Greg Ramshaw says:


    I believe Drs. Jay Scherer and Lisa McDermott, sport sociologists at the University of Alberta, have written about this subject. For example, please see Scherer & McDermott “Playing Promotional Politics: Mythologizing Hockey and Manufacturing ‘Ordinary’ Canadians”, pp. 107-135: http://www.iccs-ciec.ca/documents/105.pdf#page=107

    They may have written more on this subject since, but hopefully this helps with your research.

  20. James Bow says:

    I’m reminded of a story that circulates among writers about an author who goes to a party and who meets up with a brain surgeon. When the brain surgeon learns that the person he’s speaking to is an author, he says, “hey, yeah, I’ve been thinking about taking a year off brain surgery to write a book,” to which the author replies, “What a coincidence: I was thinking about taking a year of writing to take up brain surgery!”

  21. Cath says:

    I recently wrote a book WK – remember? The beauty of it all is that because it’s my own, I can choose to take as long or as little time I want to work on it. There’s no pressure on anyone who decides to write a book to follow anyone’s timeline but their own.

    re: the P.M.s hockey book – my concern, if I were you would be in hoping he doesn’t release it when you release yours, because good, bad, by the Harper or not, it’s not going to matter. Hockey is Canada and people will buy the book for sure. Not me though…..I like hockey but not enough to buy the book. I will buy yours though.

  22. Anne Peterson says:

    And Stephen Harper never, ever, ever, ever lies. Right? The man has a huge, enormous gaping hole where his character should be. Takes a certain kind of person to hang on to admiration for a complete schmuck whose accomplisments in office are all made of cardboard. Warren, how do you know your discussion thread hasn’t been colonized by one of Mr. Harper’s 1500 communication assistants?

  23. Brian Busby says:

    “Books are like wine…” I agree. I’ve ever doubted that the prime minister was working on a hockey book, and I fully expect to one day see it in print. What intrigues are the six years of statements, each describing the book as being on the very cusp of completion. Returning to your apt analogy, this is much like a vintner forever promising that this coming Christmas will be the year to get out the corkscrew. One can be forgiven for wondering.

    Is the book a fake? I don’t believe that for a second.

    Will its words be the prime minister’s? I’d bet on that.

    Did he have the help of researchers? I’d bet on that, too.

    Has it been used for political gain? Well, I wouldn’t be the first to make the claim. I’ll add that the book ranks first on the Conservative Party website page titled ’10 Things You Might Not Know about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’.

    Yes, here’s hoping that the prime minister’s book rises to the level of a Robert Caro. As for Michael Ignatieff’s “autobiographical fluff”, by which I presume you mean his family memoirs. While True Patriot Love was a bit of a failure – not allowed to age, one might say – The Russia Album received near-universal acclaim. Given the Caro comparison, it would be unfair to ignore Ignatieff’s biography of Isaiah Berlin, amongst his other award-winning books.

  24. Anne Peterson says:

    Comparing Harper to Trudeau is like comparing yellow brown mud to pumpkin pie. And Harper is not the pumpkin pie. And I’m not even a liberal.

  25. Jan says:

    It continues to amaze me that Harper hasn’t given you a Senate seat.

  26. K. S. says:

    I have researched early hockey history and I can tell you that this is very little secondary information on this subject. Books about sports tend to have limited interest, and when it comes to the history of sports it is even less. Although hockey is such an important aspect of our identity, few hockey fans care enough to get a deeper understanding of its (early) history. So in conducting my research I had to ply though numerous reels of microfilmed newspapers and I haven’t even scratched the surface. If Harper is writing a book about early hockey in Toronto, I doubt it focuses just on “professional” hockey – the amateur or recreational level consisted of a myriad of often obscure teams and leagues. Just to find basic background information for many of the players would be a lifetime endeavour. If the book does get published I hope that it is judged for its merits alone. Books about the early history of hockey are few – which is a shame given it is such a colourful topic – and every book is a welcome addition.

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