‘The what? I thought I was against those.’

An exclusive interview with Stephen Harper—by Stephen Harper from 2005

by Scott Feschuk

'The what? I thought I was against those.'

The Kobal Collection; Reuters; CP; Photo illustration by Taylor Shute

Even in the frenzy of a looming election, Maclean’s was able to snag a rare interview with the Prime Minister. He sat down once again with the Stephen Harper from 2005.

Stephen Harper 2005:  Thanks for doing this.

Stephen Harper 2011:  It’s always great to see me.

SH 2005: We look so different. Greyer up top—and the eyeglasses!

SH 2011: There are some things that haven’t changed. Tony Clement still puts up his hand when he needs to use the bathroom.

SH 2005: So, another election. Time to take off the kid gloves and put on those other gloves—the latex ones for touching people.

SH 2011: It never gets easier. I went to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities during one campaign and it took days to get the smell of mayor off me.

SH 2005: What’s important is that we never lose focus on what really matters . . .

Simultaneously:

SH 2005: The economy.

SH 2011: Attacking Michael Ignatieff’s father for possibly not being destitute 80 years ago. [A silence.] And also that thing you said.

SH 2005: Look, I’ve made my values clear: courage, honesty, integrity—these are for suckers. The surefire way to win an election is negative advertising.

SH 2011: Then you’ll love this new one I’ve been working on.

Shows crude drawing of Ignatieff drinking martinis with Al Capone, Pol Pot and Dr. Octopus.

SH 2005: Hey, you should ask to see Ignatieff’s birth certificate.

SH 2011: I love the way me thinks!

They try to hug but realize they don’t know how.

SH 2011: You know what bugs me?

SH 2005: Everybody and most things?

SH 2011: Exactly. But also the media’s obsession with all the scandals we’ve been having.

SH 2005: It’s unfair. If the opposition parties come together in a coalition, think of the risks: I might never get my photo op with Sting.

SH 2011: I’ll tell you a secret. Sometimes with the media I like to use the carrot instead of the stick. It leaves a more interesting bruise. And then I remind them the economy is still fragile—even though the deficit is coming in lower than expected.

SH 2005: The what? I thought I was against those.

SH 2011: You don’t know it yet, but you are about to be confronted by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

SH 2005: You mean there’s going to be runaway inflation like in the ’50s?

SH 2011: No, inflation doesn’t really go up.

SH 2005: So interest rates will rocket even higher than when they hit 20 per cent in the ’80s?

SH 2011: Nope.

SH 2005: Then unemployment must soar way above the 12 per cent we saw in the early ’90s?

SH 2011: Not even close.

SH 2005: Then I don’t really get how—

SH 2011: WORST. SINCE. THE DEPRESSION. That’s what I keep saying, anyway. Bottom line is it gave us a chance to spend like crazy in every riding where we’ve got a shot at winning.

SH 2005: How on Earth were we able to get a self-serving plan like that through an elected Senate?

An awkward silence. Somewhere a coyote howls.

SH 2011: And it’s not just the spending—we’ve also used public funds on advertising to promote the spending. We’ve taken some flak for it, but it’s like I said to Canadians: spending millions on propaganda isn’t that much if you consider it in terms of me not caring what you think.

SH 2005: But shouldn’t we be cutting faster? I thought we were committed to being different from the Liberals. I thought I wanted to offer a truly conservative government.

SH 2011: I assure you: we’re buckling down and cutting every single bit of non-essential spending that isn’t a snowmobile club, curling team or very promising quilting circle.

SH 2005: I don’t even know us anymore.




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‘The what? I thought I was against those.’

  1. Hilarious article, Scott! I especially loved the carrot/stick line.

  2. Hilarious article, Scott! I especially loved the carrot/stick line.

    • "Sometimes with the media I like to use the carrot instead of the stick. It leaves a more interesting bruise." – Nearly choked on my beverage! Scott's best line in a while!

  3. Wonderful article, Scott. Did you hear about this comment on cpac today? A caller to cpac said, "The only award Harper won was the fossil award".

  4. Wonderful article, Scott. Did you hear about this comment on cpac today? A caller to cpac said, "The only award Harper won was the fossil award".

  5. "Sometimes with the media I like to use the carrot instead of the stick. It leaves a more interesting bruise." – Nearly choked on my beverage! Scott's best line in a while!

  6. Wow ! That was real funny. Great to have you back.
    How about you do one on the 2000 Layton when he was a Toronto Councilor, or the 1985 Duceppe when he was an actor, or the 1990 Ignatieff when he was ….not sure where he was. Anyway I`m sure they would all be real funny.

  7. Wow ! That was real funny. Great to have you back.
    How about you do one on the 2000 Layton when he was a Toronto Councilor, or the 1985 Duceppe when he was an actor, or the 1990 Ignatieff when he was ….not sure where he was. Anyway I`m sure they would all be real funny.

    • you're totally right, Blue! Ignatieff isn't fit to become our prime minister because he left the country a couple times. great political analysis; I see the conservative attack ads are really working like a charm.

      • Woah Toad, easy there boy. Eeeeeaaassy.

  8. Anon, 2005: poking fun at Conservatives is NEVER EVER funny, even if it is.

    Anon, 2011: poking fun at Conservatives is NEVER EVER funny, even if it is.

  9. you're totally right, Blue! Ignatieff isn't fit to become our prime minister because he left the country a couple times. great political analysis; I see the conservative attack ads are really working like a charm.

  10. When you listen to these politicians talk, you really have to wonder:

    http://betshort.com

    The word delusional comes to mind….

  11. When you listen to these politicians talk, you really have to wonder:

    http://betshort.com

    The word delusional comes to mind….

  12. Funny stuff. It's great to see that some Canadians still have a sense of humour even with a humourless, uptight Harper gang in charge of the government.

  13. Funny stuff. It's great to see that some Canadians still have a sense of humour even with a humourless, uptight Harper gang in charge of the government.

  14. Truth is not only stranger then fiction it's also funnier.

  15. Truth is not only stranger then fiction it's also funnier.

  16. Your anger towards the Conservatives has really dragged down your work for a while Scott, but this was a good bounce back. Funniest thing I've read from you in some time. Add me to the list of those laughing out loud at the carrot/stick line.

  17. Your anger towards the Conservatives has really dragged down your work for a while Scott, but this was a good bounce back. Funniest thing I've read from you in some time. Add me to the list of those laughing out loud at the carrot/stick line.

  18. Man do we need FoxNewsNorth—and we need it NOW…

  19. Man do we need FoxNewsNorth—and we need it NOW…

    • Why? Was this not funny enough for you?

    • We already have it. It's called CTV. Conservative Television network.

  20. Why? Was this not funny enough for you?

  21. Woah Toad, easy there boy. Eeeeeaaassy.

  22. Your heading and article are funny for sure. The sad part is there is truth in it. You see Harper is told what to say by big usiness bosses, oil companies etc. Every conservative leader in the world is. They are all controlled and told what to say. Watch the youtube video link. Harper tells his Ministers what to say and do, and the Billionaires tell Harper what to say and do!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8YwJC_nBgw&fe

  23. Your heading and article are funny for sure. The sad part is there is truth in it. You see Harper is told what to say by big usiness bosses, oil companies etc. Every conservative leader in the world is. They are all controlled and told what to say. Watch the youtube video link. Harper tells his Ministers what to say and do, and the Billionaires tell Harper what to say and do!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8YwJC_nBgw&fe

  24. We already have it. It's called CTV. Conservative Television network.

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