Exclusive: Stephen Harper 2013 talks to Stephen Harper 2005 - Macleans.ca

Exclusive: Stephen Harper 2013 talks to Stephen Harper 2005

An interview with our reclusive PM, by our reclusive PM of eight years ago

‘It’s so good to talk to me again’

Frank Gunn/CP

The Prime Minister doesn’t do press conferences—possibly because he believes the relationship he shares with Canadians is so intrinsically beautiful that any attempt to describe it with words would succeed only in forever tainting it, or possibly because: Screw the stupid media. But once again, he agreed to have a chat with one of his favourite people, the Stephen Harper from 2005.

Stephen Harper 2005: How are things?

Stephen Harper 2013: Who is this?! HOW DID YOU GET THIS NUMBER?? No hablo inglés, señor reportero.

SH 2005: No, no, it’s us. I mean, it’s you.

SH 2013: It’s good to talk to me again!

SH 2005: Why so touchy?

SH 2013: I’m just in a bad mood. My executive assistant is away and his fill-in doesn’t cut up my food the way I like it. Plus, people are on my case about never speaking to the media. But the truth is I answer plenty of questions. Just last week, I went firmly on the record saying I did want fries with that. HOW MUCH MORE CAN A MAN GIVE OF HIMSELF?

SH 2005: Seven years in office now—I can’t even begin to imagine how Canada must have changed under our rule.

SH 2013: Yeah, it’s a very different country now. The GST is five per cent. There are a few tougher laws. What else? Um, some people think our new money smells like maple syrup. So there’s that. But despite all these many achievements, people seem only to care about the negative stuff—like this thing with Mike Duffy in the Senate.

SH 2005: Mike Duffy got elected to the Senate??

[Awkward silence. Somewhere, a coyote howls.]

SH 2013: Uh, we haven’t quite got around to reforming the . . . Listen, what matters is that I supported my chief of staff 100 per cent when I learned he’d secretly written a $90,000 cheque to bail out Duffy. I said Nigel Wright wouldn’t be resigning, because he’d done absolutely nothing wrong.

SH 2005: I’m sure he appreciated your loyalty.

SH 2013: Actually, he resigned and said he’d done something wrong. [Pause.] Now that I think about it, that kind of made me look like a dummy.

SH 2005: Is there any good news?

SH 2013: The new census is turning out great. According to the latest numbers put together by Statistics Canada, 70 per cent of Canadians support our reliance on voluntary data, 40 per cent oppose it and 15 per cent think Elton John should replace Randy Jackson on American Idol.

SH 2005: How are things in the polls?

SH 2013: Well, the latest one showed a 17-point lead . . .

SH 2005: Terrific!

SH 2013: . . . for the Liberals.

SH 2005: [Expletive—and about 20 minutes of pained moaning—deleted. SH 2005 gathers himself by pausing to take a sip of water.]

SH 2013: Don’t worry about it. We’re going hard at their leader, Justin Trudeau…

SH 2005: [Sprays water everywhere.]

SH 2013: … running some great attack ads with shots of him taking off his shirt. Baird suggested it. And also had the footage handy. Plus, we’re spending even more on our Economic Action Plan ads.

SH 2005: Our what?

SH 2013: Listen, I’ve always said government is not the answer. Unless the question is: Whose money can we use to air propaganda around the clock? It’s important we spend millions in taxpayers’ dollars to urgently inform Canadians about things like the Canada Job Grant, a program that does not yet exist. How else are people going to know what their government will theoretically be doing to potentially help them at some point in one possible future?

SH 2005: I’ve got to be honest: It sounds like we’ve strayed from the values we promoted before we were elected. Accountability. Integrity. Fiscal prudence.

SH 2013: Listen, in every government there are going to be people who wrongly claim housing allowances or run up hundreds of thousands in dubious travel expenses or waste public funds on gazebos or stack boards and agencies with party flunkies or write off a $16 orange juice or resign due to irregularities in campaign spending or get picked up from fishing by military aircraft or . . . um, I could keep going but by the time I’m done, you might be the me from 2008.

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

Follow Scott Feschuk on Twitter @scottfeschuk

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