Ah, 2006. We laughed, we cried, we gasped in horror. Here’s our breakdown of the top 10 events that deepened our frown lines and warmed our cockles.
1 David Miller takes the mayor's seat again. We must admit, there's a tiny little window in which we fret that Toronto may freeze over and Jane Pitfield squeak to power with the help of her anything-but-Miller allies at the Star, et al. Luckily, the daily's editorially concocted race is revealed to be just that, and Miller, with his green, clean, artsy city vision, sweeps 42 of 44 seats.
2 Christian Peacemaker Jim Loney is freed. Four months after being kidnapped in Iraq while trying to actually keep the peace (something our troops have forgotten how to do) and countless emotional vigils in his honour, the Toronto pacifist is freed by a British-led military operation. The sigh of relief is loud enough to wake Mahatma.
3 Harmful chemicals may finally be phased out. Canadians have long been simmering in a toxic soup of chems, but this just might be the year when we turn it all around. MPP Peter Tabuns has been calling for warning labels on all products that contain a carcinogen or developmental toxin. And now, after seven long years, the feds have finally announced a $300 million plan of attack for the worst concoctions on the market. The move may or may not have enough teeth, but now that the cat's out of the bag on carcinogens in our cookware and hormone disruptors in our carpets, the public's not going to let this one slide.
4 RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli resigns. After Maher Arar's dedicated campaign to bring the relationship between the RCMP and Yankee security forces out of the shadows, he gets a consolation prize - the resignation of Big Z. The commish only steps down, of course, because he's caught in an inconsistency - not because someone really powerful has to take responsibility for the fact that a Canadian citizen was deported and tortured. But, hey, it's better than nothing.
5 Queer rights get deeper. The Superior Court finally rules that birth mothers can name another woman on birth registration documents. Transsexuals win the right to pick the gender of the cop strip-searching them. Sex between consensual adults, no matter how many, is declared not a criminal act by Canada's top court - a nice reprieve for bathhouses. And best of all, a free vote on same-sex marriage in the House of Commons finally shuts the Conservatives up.
6 First Nations activists demonstrate the art of staying focused. An inspiration to enviros everywhere, Grassy Narrows protectors of traditional land maintain their action against Abitibi, the longest-running anti-logging blockade in Canadian history. Thousands of kilometres to the southeast, Six Nations puts up with all manner of provocation to stop a Caledonia subdivision, highlighting a land claim dating to the Haldimand Deed of 1784. Now that's staying power.
7 OCAP heavy John Clarke wins $10,000 in a small claims court suit against police strip-searching, which occurred after Clarke was arrested in the Queen's Park "riot" of June 2000. Finally, a cash diversion to the ever-needy and ever-essential OCAP. But even more important, Clarke has just made life a whole lot easier for the next protest victim of a pissed-off copper.
8 U of T prof wins the right to smoke medical pot on campus. This year's highs don't get more literal than this one. Philosophy professor Doug Hutchinson fights the admin for the right to treat his undisclosed medical condition with a little god-given herb. The school eventually provides him with a ventilated basement smoking room in Trinity College, warming the cockles (and pipes) of med-weed advocates everywhere.
9 City announces new green roof policy. We gotta give kudos to the city's Environmental Roundtable for pushing North America's first comprehensive green roof strategy through council. But it better get cracking if it wants to stay on our Highs list - covering 8 per cent of our rooftops with greenery will save a cool $300 million in energy costs and keep buildings 2 degrees cooler.
10 Ontario announces it will pay for locally produced, renewable energy. We're talking here about Standard Offer Contracts, which sound boring as hell but are part of the biggest green proclamations of the year. It basically means the provincial government will now pay farmers, native communities or any local generator of wind, solar, biogas or low-impact hydro for all the power they pump back into the grid. The breakthrough should help spur the kind of innovation needed to finally get eco-power off the ground.