Unnamed federal and provincial sources are accusing a Newfoundland and Labrador columnist of viciously using “dramatic irony, metaphor, pathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire” in a “fake news story” published in two provincial newspapers one week ago.
The accusations concern a report alleging that the Conservative government in Ottawa plans to build a penal colony on the moon to house “potheads, atheists and Liberals” who would otherwise be incarcerated in the now-closed Kingston Penitentiary after a future declaration of martial law.
The column also alleged that Newfoundland and Labrador’s Progressive-Conservative administration is only building a multibillion-dollar hydroelectric facility at Muskrat Falls, Labrador, in order to launch Chinese spacecraft away from Earth.
The columnist claimed he received his information from an out-of-work astrophysicist who discovered it in cabinet documents discarded in a landfill close to the capital city.
An anonymous official representing the federal government sent emails denouncing the story to various media organizations in and around a certain gas station on Merrymeeting Road in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
“Where do I start?” the email’s author begins. “A landfill near Arnprior? Who in their right mind would open a landfill near Arnprior? Everybody knows Stittsville is the best place to dump federal government garbage.”
The official insisted that Ottawa has no plans to send any undesirable citizen to the moon: whether as prisoner, one-way tourist, or whatever.
“A lunar penal colony for drug offenders, anti-Christians and political criminals? Where does he get this stuff? There are much more cost-effective ways to deal with these problems. What’s he think the death penalty’s for?”
Also in dispute is the assertion that the federal government considers all science to be “bunk.”
The unnamed official explained that while most scientists are indeed “elitist intellectual extremists” with hidden agendas, some are actually good Conservatives. As well, the official insisted that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has absolutely no intention of declaring martial law in 2015, as stated in the column.
“ML 2015? That's ludicrous! Of course it takes time to manufacture a crisis big enough to justify sending in the military to lock down the streets and the media, but everybody knows if we don't have martial law in place by the end of 2014 it’s going to look far too contrived — nobody will buy it.”
However, the government-spawned email does not refute contentions of secret deals being hatched between Canada and China. When pressed on the issue, officials would only say no information can be released because of strict proprietary considerations.
On the provincial side, Progressive Conservative spokesman John Smith (not his real name) also called the column “ludicrous” and demanded how any columnist could be allowed to make fun of politicians in a family newspaper.
“It isn’t April Fool’s Day yet. He should have known that April Fool’s Day isn’t until April. It’s right there in the name, for gosh’s sake!”
According to Smith, what upset Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s government most about the “garbage masquerading as real news” was the claim that the Lower Churchill Project is intended solely to send stuff into space.
“We’ve heard some doozies in our time — that it’s a make-work project for consultants, a way to pay back decades of generous party donations, or even for industrial development in western Labrador — but a huge electromagnetic catapult? We rejected that proposal years ago as not being anywhere near as costly as we needed it to be.”
Both officials are calling for a full-scale inquiry to explore all options for charging the columnist with “crimes against important people” and possibly even for fraud.
“Just look at what it says at the bottom of the story,” Smith said. “This guy is supposed to be writing in Labrador, but do you know where he is? While the rest of us are freezing in the dark, he’s on a trip to the South Seas. You know how hot it is there? Forty degrees! Forty! If that’s not a crime, I don’t know what is.”
The federal official says one section of the latest omnibus budget bill makes it unlawful for any citizen to employ comedic tools, especially parody or sarcasm, to criticize government.
“The law is clear and clearly the law has been broken.”
Michael Johansen is a writer living
in Labrador. Honest.