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Who Knew?

by Stephen Lautens


September 6, 2002

I was a little surprised to read the other week that the Minister of Defence admitted he didn't really know a lot about Canada's role in the Dieppe Raid. 

This revelation came on the heels of several gaffes made during the ceremonies commemorating the 60th anniversary of the disastrous attempt to land troops on the coast of France in 1942. These gaffes included pledging that modern Canadian troops will be as well equipped as those landed at Dieppe. Unfortunately, our troops in 1942 were woefully unequipped. Last weekend he confused the collaborationist Vichy government with Vimy.

Dieppe has been considered one of the great lessons hard learned by Canada. Some historians have even said that the Canadian nation came of age on the beaches of Dieppe. So it is difficult to understand why our Minister of Defence never learned about it, or at least spent a little time boning up on it once it became his job.

It made me wonder what other basic information might be missing in discussions around the cabinet table.

Minister of Health: "Ladies and gentlemen. Before we go any further I want to bring a shocking fact to the attention of my Cabinet colleagues. I was just briefed by senior officials in my department who inform me that there is no cure for the common cold." (General sounds of surprise and dismay.) "That's right. Forget that wimpy West Nile Virus - I was shocked to learn that Canada's most common disease has no cure. I've ordered that all the resources of my department be put into finding a cure before the public finds out."

Minister of Transport: "I'm sorry to take the thunder away from my friend the Minister of Health, but has anyone seen the state of our roads, railways and national airline? I seem to remember reading somewhere that Canada is a pretty big country. If that's true, there should probably be a good way to get around, but at the moment we're stuck with potholes, trains that travel once a month and an airline that learned customer relations from the Prince Albert Penitentiary."

Minister of Environment: "Just as astounding, I just read a briefing book that indicates that the weather in Canada is bloody cold most of the year, with a month and a half of sweltering heat around August. I know that we spend most of our time indoors with central heat and air conditioning, not to mention going on those important fact finding missions to Aruba in February. I feel it's my duty to have my department to send out a glossy brochure warning Canadians to bundle up in the winter and maybe wear something with short sleeves in the summer."

Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans: "My Deputy Minister came to me just this morning with some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that they tell me there aren't any fish left in the ocean. The good news is that most Canadians don't like fish anyway. We're going to try to spin this in a positive way for tourism with the slogan: 'Canada's Ocean Playground - Now 99.9% Fish Free!'".

Minister of Finance: "Do you have any idea how much Canadians pay in taxes?" (General blank looks) "Some pay almost half of what they make." (Cries of 'Oh, come on' and 'You must be kidding'.) "No really - it's true. I looked into it myself. Most of them don't have tax free allowances or great pensions either. After paying into CPP all their lives, they'll be lucky to get a few hundred bucks a month from us. I just hope no one leaks it to the press, or there'll be hell to pay."

When you think about it, it sort of explains a lot.

© Stephen Lautens 2002

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