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"What are you reading?" asks Mrs. Pops.

"That letter Joe Preston sent me. It's pretty good."

"You mean that mail-out some flack in Ottawa dreamed up? That publicly- funded propaganda?"

"No. The newsletter that Joe sends out to his constituents just to let them in on what's going on in Ottawa." Can you tell she's a Communist?

"Says here that the Government is standing up for hard working Canadian families."

"What do hard-working Canadians look like?" she inquires.

"See the photo? A hard-working young guy in a cap with his hard-working wife, and they are both holding their hard-working baby. That's the rural hard-working Canadians. And on the back, another photo of the urban hard-working Canadians, a hard-working father and his hard-working son with his hard-working wife and daughter in the background."

"If the wife and daughter are so hard-working, why are they sitting down? If the Government is standing up for them, the least they could do is stand up for themselves. And why aren't any of them actually working in these photos? Are they all unemployed?"

"They are resting from all their hard work, OK?" She just can't take things at face value.

"If they're so hard-working, why do they need standing up for? Shouldn't someone be standing up for the lazy Canadian workers?"

"The Liberals do that."

"And what about the Canadians who are too lazy to work at all. Who stands up for them?"

"The NDP." I like to tell it like it is. But I changed the subject, all the same.

"Joe says the Government is keeping taxes low."

"And keeping services even lower," she says.

"Not so. Joe says the Government is hiring tons of food inspectors so you won't die of Listeria."

"Great! What's Listeria?"

"It's when bad food leaves a nasty taste in your mouth and you panic after you swallow your mouthwash." And she thinks I'm not up on the latest.

"And Joe says the Government is introducing legislation to prohibit unjustified price gaps for identical goods sold in Canada and the States."

"Introducing? You can wake me up when that happens, if I haven't died of Listeria already."

"And Joe also says that the Government is ending pay-to-pay so Canadians aren't charged to receive paper copies of their bills."

"What does that mean?"

"Everyone knows what that means."

She's not the brightest.

"And Joe says that Canadians work hard for their money and that every dollar counts."

"All Canadians are hard-working? What about you?"

"I work hard!"

"You're retired!"

What's her point?

"Anyway it's all part of Canada's Economic Action Plan. You've heard of that haven't you?"

"Who hasn't? They put a sign up every time they fill a pothole! Say, who's the guy in the photo with the huge Afro?"

"That's Joe! And it's not a huge Afro! It's just some trees behind his head!"

"Why is he wearing a pointed hat?"

"That's the Parliament Buildings! In the background. Above the trees! Are you feeling OK?"

"I think I lost my reading glasses. Where there is no vision, the people perish."

You can say that again.

Editor's Note: Pops McKernan is the byline of writer Patrick Harding, author of Splendiferous, which is serialized in our Regional section.

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