Inside Politics

The prankster behind the snow shovelling tax credit hoax

He denied it at first, but I asked one more time.

"Are you the prankster who sent me a media release from Health Canada?" 

Dougald Lamont replied that yes, it was him. 

I received the email from the bogus media-relation@hc-sc.gc.ca email address early this afternoon, entitled "Harper Government Announces New Fitness Tax Credits for Seniors Shovelling Snow." 

In a clever parody of a government of Canada announcement, it attributed the following comment to Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq: "By instituting a Seniors Fitness Tax Credit for Shovelling Snow, seniors on fixed incomes will not have to pay anyone to shovel their walks, they will be rewarded - even posthumously - for doing it themselves." 

In the bogus release, the government falsely promises that seniors who mail in photographic or video proof that they shovel their own sidewalks will receive a crisp  $50 bill, or $100 if the snow is wet and heavy.

Lamont, a communications consultant in Winnipeg, says he sent his creative release to 120 people. 

"It was an impulse I had," says Lamont.  "I had just finished a copy of Private Eye, the British satirical magazine."

Lamont says he's thinks the release, which so far has not been taken too seriously by any media outlet, is a creative way to poke fun at a government with a proven record of winning support from small sectors of the voting public with targeted tax credits.  That, Lamont says, combined with looming negotiations over health-care funding in Canada, made today's prank all the more appealing.

Here's the full text of Lamont's fake press release:

Harper Government Announces New Fitness Tax Credits for Seniors Shovelling Snow

OTTAWA - The Hon. Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency today announced a new Fitness Tax Credit for Seniors who shovel their own sidewalks, effective immediately.

Aglukkaq said that the new program is the first in a series of "preventive" health care measures from the Harper Government that will pare health care costs by encouraging Canadians to take greater responsibility for their health, while also supporting independent living and fitness in those 55 and over.

"Studies show that seniors can improve muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness through strenuous physical activity," said Aglukkaq. "By instituting a Seniors Fitness Tax Credit for Shoveling Snow, seniors on fixed incomes will not have to pay anyone to shovel their walks, they will be rewarded - even posthumously - for doing it themselves."

Aglukkaq said that seniors who mail in photographic or video proof that they shovel their own sidewalks will receive a crisp $50 Canadian bill in the mail. If the snow is heavy and wet, the amount rises to $100.

Concerns that shoveling snow might lead to heart attacks was unwarranted, said Aglukkaq.

"There is no scientific consensus on the link between shoveling snow and heart attacks," said Aglukkaq. "In fact, there is considerably more credible scientific evidence for climate change."

Aglukkaq said that if the program is widely adopted, it would actually save the government hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars by reducing overspending in CPP, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and health care costs. The savings would be achieved mostly through attrition, she added.

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Media Enquiries:

Health Canada

(613) 957-2983

Public Enquiries:


(613) 957-2991
1-866 225-0709

 

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