2006 was a wonderful time.
It was the international year of microcredit. Cork, Ireland was named the European capital of culture. The trial of Saddam Hussein began, setting up what would later become the worst snuff film ever.
Here in Canada, the economy was growing by three percent a year, we had a comfy $15-billion budget surplus, and a young man named Stephen Harper had some pretty crazy ideas on how to govern the country.
Stevie Harper circa the January 2006 election was pretty gosh-darn tired of the governing Liberal Party and had it up to about here with the sponsorship scandal that was dragging on.
"A prime minister should not be addressing the population on this partisan issue, but rather on the concerns and challenges with which we are confronted: the health-care system, international trade, agriculture, the fiscal imbalance, safer communities, stronger families and a cleaner environment," 2006 Harper said in April of that year.
Apart from the dogwhistle of "stronger families" (read: fuck the gays), that's a pretty good list of priorities.
Cracking open a copy of the Conservatives' 2006 platform, you'd find some solid ideas: Scrap the Indian Act and give First Nations more autonomy; adopt a national plan to reduce CO2 emissions; create a dedicated transfer to the provinces to fund post-secondary education and reduce tuition fees; strengthen gun controls for at-risk weirdos and convicted criminals; and set up an aggressive transparency and accountability regime for the federal government.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that 2006 Harper's Conservative Party was full of goddang socialists.
Sure, there was some bad stuff in there, too—I can't underscore enough how much "fuck the gays" remained a subtext of the Conservative campaign until a few years later—but you couldn't help but fall in love with the oddball.
Look at this loveable doofus.
Look at him.
2006 Stephen Harper didn't just look weird, he said weird things, too. Like: "I think people should elect a cat person. If you elect a dog person, you elect someone who wants to be loved. If you elect a cat person, you elect someone who wants to serve."
But 2006 Stephen Harper also said enlightened things that people like me like. For example: "I'm very libertarian in the sense that I believe in small government and, as a general rule, I don't believe in imposing values upon [heterosexual] people." (He was halfway there, anyway.)
2006 Stephen Harper expanded the Access to Information system, forced the government to publish its contracts and tenders, made it harder for lobbyists to move freely through government, and banned corporations and unions from donating to political parties.
Nowadays, Canada has moved away from the lofty bar that 2006 Stephen Harper set. The Senate is full of Conservative Party fundraisers. The Access to Information system has been intentionally bludgeoned by political operators. Government secrecy is at late-era Brezhnev levels. The government is swinging its dick around and hitting everyone in the face with it, between telling Muslim women to strip their clothes off to become a citizen to enacting an aggressive national security plan that allows cops to pave over our civil liberties with a zamboni, 2006 Stephen Harper would be appalled.
It's possible that, much like the Liberal government that 2006 Harper hated so much, a political party just shouldn't stay in power for more than five or six years. If they stay longer, a band of upstart political actors show up to sack everything, like white blood cells or a band of vandals setting fire to shit outside of Rome.
So that's why I'm endorsing 2006 Stephen Harper to clean up this crap that 2015 Stephen Harper keeps fucking up.
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