MONTREAL – Prime Minister Stephen Harper helped unveil Saturday a set of commemorative stamps celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens.
He was accompanied by hockey legends Rejean Houle and Guy Lafleur and Habs president Pierre Boivin at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
The high-tech, thin plastic stamps will give the illusion when manipulated of watching moving images of historic goals from the team’s history.
Canada Post chairman Marc Courtois said the stamp celebrates a team that transcends decades and borders.
“It pays tribute to players who inspired generations,” he said.
The stamps were two years in the making, said the postal service’s director, Jim Phillips. “By moving it side-to-side, you can see the pass to the motion of the puck.”
The prime minister’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, said Harper was invited for both his knowledge of hockey and because he is prime minister.
Harper also engaged in some hockey banter during a lengthy chat with the broadcast crew of RDS network, the French-language equivalent of TSN. Sitting next to him in the broadcast booth was RDS analyst Jacques Demers, a newly minted Conservative senator.
Harper, a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan, answered without hesitation when asked whether he’d be cheering for Montreal or Ottawa on Saturday.
“Yes, that’s tough,” Harper said. “I try avoiding games between two Canadian teams. But tonight, as I told my son (Ben), I’m in Montreal. I’m rooting for the Canadiens tonight.”
The men chatted about Harper’s struggle to complete his long-term project of writing a book about the early history of hockey before 1927. The prime minister joked that his day job has interfered with completing the book, and said he enjoys working on it for 15 minutes before bedtime to get his mind off politics.
Harper said he hopes to have it done within a year – but then quickly added that he’d already set, and failed to meet, such deadlines in the past. He said his friend from Calgary, Greg Stukoyo, has been helping him for years, conducting research by going through old newspaper clippings.
He noted that the Montreal Canadiens are an enduring institution – one that had already won a pair of Stanley Cups in the pre-1927 period he’s writing about.
“That’s my period of research and, obviously, the Canadiens are the team – the oldest team in the history of our sport. It’s been a great century, and it’s a great Canadian institution.”