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Stephen Harper: Hockey book writer, arts program de-funder

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When I was 12, two major things happened to me. The first was that I found out that I would be moving to Canada.

Scott Monroe, the resident jokester of my seventh grade class (sorry that's grade seven for Canadian readers) announced, "I heard you are moving to Canada. All those people do is eat potato chips, watch tv and play hockey."

"Little did he know," I scoffed.

Twenty five years later, I can safely say he was wrong. He forgot the beer. And the Crown Royal. And that great Canadian drink called the "rum and coke."

The second major thing that happened to me that year? I stopped signing things as "Amanda J. Barker." I decided that that the "J" sounded like I was trying too hard.

There are so many hilarious things about this adopted home of mine. Our currency has ridiculous names that rhyme because it's cute, our crowds cheer bloody fights between guys on ice that are actually best buds and our nation’s leader has the time to pursue his "true" passion -- writing.

Wait…what?

Stephen Harper is embarking on his writing career…now? Yep.

Can you imagine this in any other country? Barack Obama releases an album that pays tribute to his favourite singers. British Prime Minister David Cameron does a gallery tour featuring inspirational photos of his last vacation in Majorca.

Maybe it isn't that ridiculous. After all, Kim Jong Un began his career as "super basketball hero star" this year (vouchsafed by North Korean ambassador Sir Denis Rodman). His Dad fancied himself a film director and used government money to build elaborate film sets with fake buildings and monsters.

So maybe we aren’t in such bad shape after all.

The Harper Government made headlines when they cut funding to the Summerworks festival in Toronto after criticizing the writing in the show Homegrown (it was about terrorism).

But, as Scott Monroe told me, it doesn’t get more Canadian than hockey, right? I mean surely that’s worthy of the taxpayers footing the bill.

Image source: Riotwire Flickr user BiblioArchives–LibraryArchives; photoshopped by EDionne

We know Stephen Harper is excellent on the vocabulary front. After all, no one knew what the word "prorogue" meant before he did it four times in five years. My spell check still insists it’s perogi. Sadly we’ve been prorogued more times than the average Canadian eats them in a year.

And maybe he is truly genius. Could there be any better deflection to muddy November’s political waters than a book launch?

Get ready for a million quippy puns to come your way on November 5th: "Skating on Thin Ice," "Hockey and the Conservatives Are Playing 'A Great Game,'"  "The Leafs and The Conservatives: Two Losing Teams"

… and that’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure there are hundreds of other hilarious permutations for the genius writers at the Toronto Sun.

But, I think the truly amazing discovery for the Canadian people is that Harper is a Leafs fan. Really? These are fighting words in Harper’s Albertan homeland. Or is he trying to win us Torontonian lefties over?

That or he is just trying to divert attention from his own poorly managed franchise so that we can all gather round the yearly funeral of that other one. The other Canadian team that spends and spends and yet never quite delivers.

Image flickr/yaokcool

My first day of school in grade eight (that’s the eighth grade for American readers) taught me that this is the country that was founded in part by a bunch of Brits who thought the U.S. would be short-lived and decided to fight for the establishment.

In other words, there is truly nothing more Canadian than the undying hope that somehow things will get better by staying exactly the same. Certainly every Canadian of Harper’s government and every Leafs fan can share that sentiment. They both have been feeling it for years.

But the good news is that Canada is the land of social programs, right? And there are many programs out there to support budding writers like Harper. Programs like The Canadian Council of Learning, The Canadian Heritage Centre on Research and Information on Canada, The Canadian School of Public Service.

Oh wait, these were on the list of cuts by the Harper Government.

Sorry. The Stephen J. Harper Government.

The same one that does not grant unemployment insurance to writers. Like his ghostwriter. The unnamed guy who actually wrote this book.

There is, however, one quotation that we definitely can contribute to our Prime Minister and one I think my personal prophet, the young Scott Monroe, would agree with:

"Canadians can disagree, but it takes a lot to get Canadians to intensely hate something or hate somebody. And it usually involves hockey."

Yes, Prime Minister Harper. Usually it does.

This article originally appeared on Riotwire and is reprinted with permission.

Image flickr/s.yume

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