In the Late Harper period of Canadian politics it's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between satire and legitimate news stories.
Here's a couple of examples of satire followed by one that's even scarier and more disturbing because it's an actual news story. We live in interesting times. Fortunately there's a election coming up...
Honestly, few of the serious critiques of the Harper government's war on science, evidence and civil society ring as true as these two satirical takes. This is definitely in the Stewart/Colbert mode of so funny it hurts.
OTTAWA (The News Desk) — In what observers are calling a cynical attempt to score political points with the Conservative base, the Harper government announced an infusion of more than $30 million into its efforts to ignore science on Monday.
“This is clearly pandering to critics of the scientific method,” said NDP science critic Rene Prefontaine, referring to the title of the press release circulated by the office of the prime minister earlier today, “The Scientific Method: In Over Its Head.”
In the press release, the government promises new funding to purpose-built departments devoted to misunderstanding, misrepresenting or altogether lying about science to the public.
And on a related satirical note...
Feeling dead on the inside will be added into the the standard public servant tests, reflected in questions like: ‘On a scale of 1-5, one being the least and five being the greatest, how worthless do you feel?’ and 'how frequently do wish you had another career?'
According to sources, Clement decreed that all public servants must now wear ball gags 24 hours a day to prevent any information leaks or expressions of creativity.
And to prove that truth still has something to teach satire in terms of jaw-dropping disgusted absurdity, here's a recent real news story.
At one federal department, office pals are risky business: Natural Resources Canada’s new code-of-conduct rules assign staff a colour-coded ‘risk’ level. And if you have work pals, or are a professor, watch out.
Last month, employees of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) were asked to fill out and sign a confidential conflict-of-interest document, part of a new code-of-conduct protocol that includes a mandatory training session and meeting with a manager. In itself, this is not unusual. Employers routinely require staff to disclose potential conflicts—financial or personal—that could compromise their ability to do their jobs.
What makes the 17-page “Employee Confidentiality Report” obtained by Maclean’s unique is that it classifies the civil servants’ behaviours—both on and off the job—by “categories of risk”: Red signals “high risk” of conflict of interest, yellow “moderate risk” and green “low or no risk.” The colour-coded model mirrors the terrorism threat-advisory scale created by U.S. Homeland Security after 9/11—except that the threat levels here apply to civil servants, many of them scientists, working for a federal department that oversees Canada’s earth sciences, minerals and metals, forests and energy, and identifies its vision as: “Improving the quality of life of Canadians by creating a sustainable resource advantage.”
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union that represents professionals in the Canadian public service, including research scientists at NRCan, has seen conflict-of-interest forms implemented everywhere, but never in such detail, says Laurie Wichers-Schreur, manager of classification and research at PIPSC. “You generally sign off on a general conflict-of-interest statement; if it appeared you were involved in anything that could be construed as conflict of interest, they submitted you to a second form similar to this one,” she says. “In years gone by, it was more focused on sideline businesses; now it’s more focused on political activity.”