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 The lowest of all lows - Stephen Harper wins the federal election. The thought of calling this man PM makes us gag in unison. Any early hopes his "fragile" minority will keep him in check have clearly dissolved as we watch him dismantle global warming polices, nix national child care plans and press his lips to the derrières of the oil and firearm lobby.
2 Premier Dalton McGuinty announces plans to expand nuke power and backs down on shutting coal plants. The premier wants to spend $46 billion on dangerous new nuclear facilities while we still owe $20 billion in back payments on old plants, not to mention the 30,000 tonnes of radioactive waste no one knows what to do with. On top of it, fibbin' Dalton breaks his promise - twice - and now wants to postpone closing smog-inducing coal plants till 2014. Kind of chokes us up.
3 Parliament votes to extend the nauseating mission in Afghanistan until early 2009. Thank the waffling Liberals for this one - 29 of their hawks went thumbs-up for the Tory motion, including once-sensible Bill Graham and PM-wannabe Michael Ignatieff. The NDP and the Bloc, on the other hand, use the debate to remind us we are a country of diplomacy and compromise. Feels so unfashionable nowadays.
4 McGuinty tells T.O. we're getting the gas-fired Portland Energy Centre. Despite massive opposition from activists, residents and enviros (including thoughtful plans that demonstrate we can easily cough up the same megawattage through conservation), McGuinty proves once again that his head is so far up the nuclear lobby's ass he can't see the wind for the windmills.
5 Flights take off at Island Airport. Talk about flying in enemy territory. Despite the fact that the mayor, island residents and most of the city spit up bile and hoist picket signs whenever airport reopening or expansion is mentioned, Porter Airlines launches flights out of the new Toronto City Centre Airport in late October. More proof that having Tory friends in high places, or in this case on the Port Authority's board, can overcome any political hurdle.
6 Stephen Harper skips AIDS conference. We know he was awful busy "asserting our sovereignty" and smiling for photogs in the north and all, but his absence from the 16th International AIDS Conference was duly noted with bellowing boos whenever his name was dropped (in sharp contrast to thunderous applause at any mention of Stephen Lewis).
7 The marked rise of government spin. The feds' internal decrees filtering word usage and press communication are all too 1984. First, minders remove all references to the words "climate change"; then there's the memo on dropping the word "innovation" from speeches because it's "too liberal." And, of course, Harp's infamous attempt to control press gallery questions. Oh yes, and now all government communication must be cleared by the PM's office. Did we mention his cabinet isn't allowed to speak to the press? We could go on, but it's too depressing.
8 City council brings in a new structure that bestows mega-powers on the mayor to control his executive and appoint committee chairs. A nice idea when we've got a lefty in the big chair, but has anyone considered what happens down the road when some corporate-controlled dunderhead gets the top job and our grass-roots reps find themselves with zero leverage? Picture, if you will, Mel Lastman with more authority.
9 Gun-related killings are down 47 per cent so far in 2006, but that doesn't stop the chest-thumping Guardian Angels from appointing themselves saviours of the streets. With the nod from mayoral wannabe Jane Pitfield, the self-infatuated vigilantes hold a public graduation ceremony for new recruits while furious Parkdale activists complain the group's patrols are terrifying the homeless and mentally ill.
10 City busts Cherry Beach parties for good. After five joyous years of drum circles and beach boogying, the music died the day five cruisers showed up and shut a peaceful party down - all in the name of port lands regeneration. Now 261 trees surrounding the beach are facing the chop to make way for two temporary sports fields. What a buzz-kill for partiers, picnickers and treehuggers alike.