Friday, May 27, 2005

Extended Leave

We regret to inform you that The Maple Lounge will be going on hiatus for a little while, probably somewhere in the vicinity of two more weeks or so. Between job interviews and studying for a huge exam on my way to becoming Dr. Matt, there's simply no time to keep this up. At least not at a respectable level of quality.

Don't worry, I haven't been “silenced” by Darth Svend, in fact I ... aaaack ... aaah ... ack ... can't ... aaah ... breath ...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Revenge of the Svend

It appears that when Belinda Stronach crossed the floor to join the Liberal party, she brought more than just her support for tomorrow's big confidence vote. The worst fears of Conservatives everywhere have been confirmed: Belinda carries with her the deepest secrets of the Tory inner circle, including the true reason behind Stephen Harper's drive to topple the government immediately. It is now clear that Harper has more than just angry rhetoric up his sleeve. The hour draws nigh when he will unveil a terrible secret that will threaten the unity of the country and jeopardize Canada's position on the world stage.

The seeds of Stronach's dissent were sown several weeks ago, when it was reported that an irate Harper read her the riot act after she expressed some sympathy for certain elements of the Liberal budget. Although the heated exchange took place behind closed doors, a certain fly on the wall just happens to be a key informant in the employ of The Maple Lounge.

"The program Svend has grown beyond your control."

Stronach's fateful words that day in front of the Tory leader tell us all we need to know. Evidently stealth ninja Svend Robinson has been working as a double agent, and yet his treachery runs far deeper than any political leader could possibly know. Our nation has never known greater peril, and today the country received its first taste of the terror Svend plans to unleash.

His first target was Queen Elizabeth II. The monarch recently arrived in Canada for a special ceremony in his honour. In recognition of his services to the Queen, Svend was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral and was awarded the Fabulous Cross, becoming the first of the Queen's subjects since Elton John to receive such a distinction.

The ceremony ended abruptly when Svend stole the Queen's crown jewels. Before mysteriously disappearing from sight, he rejected his new rank and proclaimed himself to be Darth Svend. Canada's most versatile agent has turned into a power-crazed vigilante assassin who answers to no one.

Not satisfied with an assault on the Queen, Darth Svend's next target was Parliament hill. With all eyes on Belinda Stronach as she walked across the aisle to join the ranks of the government, Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis was struck with a poison dart and had to be rushed to hospital. Karygiannis was caught on video gasping for air and clutching his chest. The toxin, later identified as a simple truth serum, was almost fatal to the politician.

The office of the Prime Minister released a statement acknowledging that "Darth Svend is trying to send us a message." An anonymous source inside the RCMP toxicology lab said that unused darts laced with rat poison were found along with a note mentioning the names of Scott Brison, David Kilgour and Pierre Pettigrew.

"Do not believe the rebel lies. I don't use poison darts," said Darth Svend when pressed for comment. Darth Svend then raised a hand in the direction of the CBC reporter who allegedly found the poison darts. Inexplicably, the reporter began gasping for air and clutched his throat as if choking on his next question. "Your thoughts betray you," was all Darth Svend said as the CBC reporter crumpled over and died.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What's that Smell?

A mere two days have passed since Canada's loss at the 2005 World Hockey Championship at the hands of the Czech Republic. Canadians from coast to coast are still licking their wounds, but the federal government has put forward a proposal that aims to restore our shattered pride, and that's something Canucks everywhere can cheer about.

"It's time to stop licking, and time to start kicking!" hollered an exuberant Paul Martin to a boisterous crowd of supporters during his tour of Atlantic Canada.

The new Liberal plan would see upwards of 150 troops sent to Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur region. The small peacekeeping force would be dropped directly in the middle of what the United Nations has called the greatest humanitarian crisis facing the world today. With no guns.

Buoyed by the roar of the crowd, Martin was in no mood for dithering. "If the UN wants to call them peacekeepers, then that's fine, but I tell you these soldiers are going to a place where no pansy-ass Swedish referee can see them!"

Taking a page from the Americans, the campaign will begin with a so-called “shock and awe” phase, with newly purchased Airbus A-380 squadrons dropping dilapidated Sea King helicopters in order to kick up dust in the arid Sudanese desert. Anonymous sources inside the Tory camp suggest instead that the Canadian military drop Liberal party members, citing the militants lack a proper emergency response plan to defend against dirty bomb attacks.

General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces, has expressed concern that this "complex and relatively dangerous environment" might put further pressure on a military already spread far too thin. However Bill Graham, Minister of National Defence, claims the general has ulterior motives. "He probably just wants an increase in his allowance. I'll handle it the same way I deal with my stupid kids. I'll just ignore them until they go away and it's no longer my problem."

Despite six months of planning, it appears the Sudanese government was never consulted on the topic of foreign troops on their soil. Asked whether the entire announcement was just smoke and mirrors in order to buy the support of independent MP David Kilgour for the upcoming budget vote, the Prime Minister was vague. "Look, I think we can really beat these guys. I think we can take 'em!"

Tory leader Stephen Harper was quick to denounce the Liberal plan as just another shoddy strut to prop up a beleaguered minority government, although he did say that a Conservative government would expand the military operation. "The Sudanis are using war and famine as weapons of mass destruction, so we have to bring democracy to them. The brave Canadian army will bring freedom to the Sudanites. Look what Lord Bush has done for the Iraqistanis!"

NDP leader Jack Layton bristled at the thought of a military solution to the Darfur crisis, but softened his stance when it was revealed that the Canadian troops would be unarmed. "This new force will benefit from lessons learned during the Asian Tsunami relief effort," referring to Canada's DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team) mission.

Military historians will note that the Catastrophe Assistance Response Team (CART), an early precursor to DART, was dissolved by the Mulroney government. Recently the Canadian Forces created a new unit to address the shortcomings of the inefficient DART. Holding to tradition, they stepped through the alphabet to name the ill-fated Early Assistance Response Team (EART), which was disbanded after only a few days when auditor general Sheila Fraser threatened to examine their accounting records.

Paul Martin is expected to unveil the name of the new special-ops unit later this week, however The Maple Lounge has already obtained this classified operational information. The plan to send troops to Sudan is apparently a complete mystery to both the Canadian and Sudanese governments, and the idea of dropping unarmed soldiers directly into a brutal civil war simply reeks of hot air. Hence the rather appropriate name for the new force: Futile Assistance Response Team (FART).

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Liberals Announce Child Labour Plan

Ever since Paul Martin went on national television to apologize to the country in a pathetic attempt to salvage his minority government, the Liberals have embarked on an election-style spending spree. With $22 billion dished out in only 18 days, the torrid pace shows no sign of abating.

This flurry of announcements has lead to an inevitable and embarrassing gaffe on the part of the Grits. Last Friday the federal government and the province of Ontario announced an agreement that will bring $1.9 billion in spending to the province's child care system. On the same day, an advisory panel reviewing the crown corporation that runs ferries between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland came up with their own $1.9 billion price tag to improve service.

Two announcements for exactly the same amount of $1.9 billion, both within minutes of each other? Initially we here at the The Maple Lounge were not suspicious, but that was before an incredible story broke out amongst Conservative bloggers. (And we thought they were just conspiracy theorists!)

The $1.9 billion spent in Ontario will be used to build forced labour camps for children, a place where tiny hands can build all the little parts required to upgrade the ferries in Atlantic Canada. “Who doesn't enjoy killing two birds with one stone?” a Liberal MP was quoted as saying.

Minister of Social Development Ken Dryden was quick to trumpet the virtues of the new plan. “This system will provide an alternative to traditional daycare services for preschool children. The camps will also be open to kids before and after class, which is something that working parents will appreciate.”

A best-selling author, successful lawyer and one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of hockey, Dryden became defensive when questioned about the morality of child slave labour. “Look, whatever you can do I can do better. I put a lot of thought into this plan. Just shut up and listen.” The Minister then detailed the second phase of the program, still waiting parliamentary approval, that would see children across the country build a new fleet of flame-retardant, water-resistant, machine-washable nuclear submarines for the Canadian Navy.

NDP leader Jack Layton was unwilling to comment on the child labour issue due in part to the recent $4.6 billion budget deal, however he did note that the NDP will be active in organizing the labour effort and has already reached an agreement in principle to unionize all of Ontario's children. “We are cultivating the next generation of NDP supporters,” he said in a short statement.

The Bloc Quebecois vehemently opposes the plan. “Quebec does not want to be part of a third world country that forces children into slavery,” said Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, “this is proof that federalism is broken and Paul Martin has lost the moral authority to govern.”

Some Liberal backbenchers suggested instead that both plans be canceled, saving the government $3.8 billion that could be transferred to Quebec to set up an emergency fund to promote Canadian unity and counter the increasing threat of the separatists.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Theocons: More than Meets the Eye

Recent polls suggest that Canadians are not ready for another election. The prevailing sentiment is that voters would rather Stephen Harper reconsider his decision to topple the Martin government immediately. Undaunted, the Conservative war drums are sounding ever louder and a vote of no confidence seems inevitable.

Outside Parliament today, Harper seemed reluctant to reveal the source of his confidence. “I have something the Liberals do not,” he said with a wry smile. “Habemus Papam.”

While the Conservative party does draw much of its support from the religious right, it seems a bit excessive to claim that Pope Benedict XVI has cast a symbolic vote for the Tories. Most people would chalk this up to the current hyperbole-inducing state of Canadian politics. However, things are not as simple as they seem at first glance.

The Maple Lounge has learned that the federal government has dispatched stealth ninja agent Svend Robinson to investigate unexplained spy satellite photos of the Vatican. Intercepted transmissions reveal that the Über-Pope, the man they used to called PanzerKardinal, has commissioned the construction of an entire battalion of Popemobiles. Internal documents stolen by agent Svend from Rheinmetall AG indicate the modified popemobiles have been upgraded with reactive armour and now carry 120mm smoothbore cannons.

Clearly the Pope is set to invade Canada in the event the Conservatives fail to win the next election, however it will take some time before the heavy assault vehicles can be shipped across the ocean. Paul Martin's Canada Steamship Lines was awarded the lucrative transportation contract, and it doesn't seem to bother the Prime Minister that these tanks will be used to stage a coup against his government. “Do you have any idea how much coin the Vatican has? Clearly, in fact, business is business,” Martin was quoted as saying.

The popetanks form the second wave of the invasion force. The Vatican has already sent in a brigade of robotic evangelist droids to establish a forward command base somewhere in western Canada. There's more than meets the eye to these robots in disguise, known as the Thecons. They can change themselves into various forms to suit the whims of the electorate, but their true agenda lies hidden back on the planet Cybertron where they were built. Military analysts agree that obtaining this hidden agenda will be agent Svend's next mission.

The Maple Lounge was unable to reach the Pontiff for comment, however a Vatican spokesperson relayed a personal message from Pope Benedict XVI regarding the impending Canadian invasion: “No more ecumenical girly men.”

Conservative MPs remained tight-lipped about the plan. Belinda Stronach did take the time to flatly deny the story for a raucous throng of media reporters. “I spoke with Stephen this morning and he told me that 'Habemus Papam' is just Latin for 'I like doughnuts'. I think Mr. Harper was pulling your leg.”

Monday, May 02, 2005

Retarded Flush

The city of Windsor, Nova Scotia, is experimenting with smart cards as a way to curb compulsive gambling. Users of video lottery terminals can now monitor their spending habits and place limits on the amount of money poured into the machines.

Part of the province's strategy to address gambling addiction, the voluntary program will become mandatory by the fall. So far VLT users and bar owners alike are behind the idea, and if it proves successful the Windsor experiment might be rolled out across all of Nova Scotia within the year.

"What we have to do is get those machines out of the province," says Liberal MNA Manning MacDonald, calling VLTs the “the crack cocaine of gaming” and clearly no fan of the smart card plan. The Conservative representative for Windsor agrees, but is willing to take it one step further. “What we really need to do is get rid of all the problem gamblers. We can deport them to Quebec by cramming all our VLTs into a Via train and giving users a one-way ticket to La Belle Province. Problem solved.”

Quebec, it seems, is well poised to handle an influx of gambling addicts. For several years now the province has been using the so-called “dumb tard” strategy, whereby a mentally handicapped person is chained to each VLT and is instructed to heckle gamblers whenever they lose.

“The mongoloids are surprisingly effective,” claims Sophie Boisclair, coauthor of Loto-Québec's 2005 Report on Problem Gambling. “We've even recorded in several cases that VLT addicts will pretend to be momentarily distracted and walk right by after seeing our deterrent agent. Nobody wants to sit at a machine next to someone they can't even make eye contact with.”

The program only recently starting employing people affected with Down Syndrome. The brainchild of the former Parti Québécois government, the plan had originally been intended to help Quebec's overburdened mental health institutions. “We had no more room for patients, so we starting chaining them to VLTs because we thought the blinking lights and repetitive music would be soothing. That way we even saved money on medication too!”

Calling the concept “exploitive, inhumane and idiotic,” the Charest government vowed to put an end to the practice. The inevitable rise in problem gambling will end up costing the party some support, but the premier said his mind is already made up. “We'll lose some votes in the short term, but we'll bounce back. You can bet on it.”