Author Topic: While the Prime Minster Writes  (Read 1639 times)

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While the Prime Minster Writes
« on: December 11, 2013, 10:51:46 AM »
While Christmas shopping on the weekend, I stopped at a bookstore. The holiday crowds always make me uneasy; I’m sure many can relate to the discomfort that comes with the crush of thousands of people rushing to make their holiday purchases. The bookstore was supposed to be a respite, so of course, this Coles was busy. Their selection was not the greatest but as I was leaving a book caught my eye. The author’s name was Stephen J. Harper. I thought to myself how unfortunate it was for the author to have the same name as our prime minister, how difficult it will be for this man trying to write about the early years of Toronto hockey, while bearing the same name as the Prime Minister of Canada. Wanting to give this author a fighting chance, I opened the book, only to discover that the book by the poor Stephen J. Harper I was feeling sorry for was, in fact, the work of the prime minister.
I was completely surprised and instantly outraged. How can he find the time between running a country to write a book? While our Prime Minister writes his book about hockey, 4 Canadian soldiers have committed suicide. The Canadian Forces will kick you out of Her Majesty’s military if the words “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” are even uttered by a soldier in service. The military wants to save money by getting rid of soldiers before they reach ten years of service. But instead of addressing any of this, Stephen Harper writes about the playing career of turn-of- the-century hockey player Bruce Ridpath.
While our Prime Minister writes his book, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs is in shambles. Hundreds of soldiers are fighting for our country and sustain injuries fighting the “author’s” war. And when soldiers like me return home, the incompetence of Veterans Affair’s robs these men and women of the support they truly need. Veteran’s Affairs offices are shutting their doors across the country, and men and women in these areas will get less support than before (as if that is even possible). But hey, at least you can read about the Toronto Blue Shirts’ Stanley Cup run of 1914.
While our Prime Minister writes his book, a scandal involving three conservative MPs embarrasses our country. The author’s own chief of staff paid off Mike Duffy’s debt. Something the Prime Minister claims no knowledge about. But I guess he has an alibi, he was writing his book! And really, the early owner-player contract disputes are just as important to the country, right?
“Although the final book was smoothed out with the help of both a full-time researcher and hockey author Roy McGregor, Mr. Harper has been plugging away on a manuscript since at least 2005, and has described the process as ‘an escape from the pressures of the job.’” Mothers everywhere have always told their children if you have time to watch TV you have time for homework. Thus I will make an analogy that I have never thought I would have to do “If you have time for writing a book you have time to run a country.”
“Well Bruce,” you might say, “you cannot expect him to work 24/7.” To which I argue, military soldiers are salaried and are expected to be on call 24/7. Not only that, if the expectation is that you arrive to work at midnight, you really must be there by 23:30. The job of prime minister is not one that should be conducive to completing a historical book. Obama has not published during his time in office; and although leaders like Putin have published memoirs in office with two other authors help, writing about one’s life arguably requires far less research than crafting a historical piece. It would be interesting to see how many other world leaders become published while at the helm of their country. Former American President Theodore Roosevelt published six works in office but I don’t see any plans for the prime ministers bust to be carved into the side of a mountain any time soon.
It is noteworthy that “All author proceeds from the book will go to the Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services (CFPFSS). The specific fund that the proceeds will be donated to is the Military Families Fund, which provides emergency financial assistance to military families faced with unforeseen and often immediate needs that have resulted due to conditions of service.”[ii] Ten years in the service and I have never heard of CFPFSS. In fact, services provided for the troops are so bad that the Joint Personnel Support Unit Sergeant Major Barry Westholm just resigned in protest.[iii] Although admirable that you would donate the funds from your book to soldiers’ families Mr. Harper, the Office of the Prime Minister could do so much more to help them.
The time to write books is at the end of your tenure as prime minister, when you are collecting a monthly pension for the remainder of your life (actually, it’s probably best not to get me started on pensions). So if any of you open your stockings this Christmas and find a copy of “A Great Game,” please enjoy your read about the fascinating world of pre-World War I hockey in Toronto, while remembering that while the author was writing this book, he was escaping the pressures of the job he was elected to do.