Office of the Prime Minister of Canada From: The Shepherd To: The Flock
Subject: How to properly alter an official document
It’s Le Grand Fromage here. I can’t use my real name for reasons that will become obvious (to maybe five of you morons). I guess not all of you realized that when you write a word on a page, it can be read by other people. Such as journalists. Or Bob Rae.
With that in mind, it’s time we had a little refresher on the official procedure for altering a document.
1) Shred first, read later
If an important document winds up in your hands, it can only mean one thing: the PMO failed to intercept it. So do the easy thing and shred it. That way, if a journalist storms into your office with a freedom of information request, he’s going to need a lot of glue and a great set of tweezers.
2) Deny, deny, deny
Always – always! – deny altering a document. If you accidentally admit it, deny admitting it. And if someone produces footage of you admitting it, claim that the footage was altered. (Toronto’s chief of police can help you with this last step.) Remember: Footage altered, document not altered. Practice saying that ten times.
3) Pretend it was your idea
On certain occasions, the PMO may ask you to admit to altering a document. If you have been following step 1, this will, of course, be a document you have never seen, so you will be able to tell your children in all honesty that you are not guilty of the charges levelled against you. But – and this is the important part – you must never implicate the PM. At 2 am tonight, Nigel Wright has arranged access to the OC Transpo bus depot, so that all MPs can practice throwing themselves underneath one. Attendance is mandatory.
4) Write the altered document first
Then go back and write the original. That way, the original document is the “altered” document. But here’s the key – write the altered document in older ink, so that if the documents are carbon-dated it will be easy to prove which is the “original.” (Confused yet, Rona?)
For example, there is already a version of this particular document in which every substantive clause has had the word “not” inserted into it. It was printed in 144-year-old ink painstakingly scratched off original 1867 version of the British North America Act. (I wonder what happened to that line guaranteeing Quebec 24 senators?)
5) We’re going paperless
I’m not talking about iPads and PDFs. I’m talking about an amazing future in which every major decision in Canada gets verbal confirmation from the PM and only the PM. A fantasy you say? Not for long.
As we speak, more than 5 million Styrofoam cups are being connected, via string, to an isolation tank beneath Langevin Block filled with Rideau Canal water and Epsom salts. In a few short months, your very own PM will spend 12 hours each day floating naked inside this tank fielding up to a million yes-or-no questions from government employees ranging from Jim Flaherty down to a lowly CRA auditor wondering if it’s okay to audit Gerry Schwartz. (No.) According to my colleagues at the University of Calgary, this – and only this – will finally bring an end to the bungling.
We go live May 1. Until then, follow steps one through four. And remember, you never read this, and I never wrote it.
“Jethro T. Fitzhammond” 24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa PS Bev, you’re fired.