I’m an aficionado of questionable federal spending. Not that I like tax dollar bonfires and boondoggles more than anyone else, it’s just that I find them useful for satirical material. And surely nothing is more worthy of satire than a recently revealed program by the Canadian Department of Defence.
A short study from October asked 150 subjects whether superheroes can “fly through the air, see through walls, hear whispers from miles away, become invisible, and walk through walls.” $14,000 were spent to “help the Canadian Forces win the hearts and minds of the local populations it faces when deployed overseas, such as recently in Afghanistan.”
“This work will not only allow cultural scientists to better understand the spread of non-natural and religious concepts but also allow the Canadian Armed Forces … to design messages that are more memorable for their target audiences,” according to summary of the study. Considering most of the world already consumes American pop culture like GI-dispensed candy bars, your guess is as good as mine about how this psychological operations monkeywrenching is supposed to work. (Wolverine figures painted on the sides of Halliburton trucks?) This brings me to a scoop of my own. A little bird just forwarded me an internal memo from the PMO to Tory insiders:
To: Conservative Contact List
From: The Privy Council
Subject: Confidential Survey – Superheroes as Federal Appointees, Members of Parliament, Contractors, and Temporary Foreign Workers
Please answer all of the following questions to the best of your ability.
MR. FANTASTIC: Assume that Reed Richards, leader of The Fantastic Four, actually exists. If the scientific genius agreed to stay away from oceanography and anything fishy, would you like to see him head the National Research Council? Should he invent a sleeping gas for use in the parliamentary press gallery? (Mr. Fantastic’s stretching powers are not under consideration, as the Wright/Duffy debacle has demonstrated the PM’s unparalleled elasticity.)
AQUAMAN: Once more assume this superhero, a fixture of DC comics, is real. Would you like to see him lead the privatization of the defunct Kitsilano Coast Guard operation on the West Coast? (Aquaman is based in the Atlantic, but he has weak telepathic command over Pacific jellyfish and sea cucumbers).
MAGNETO: Do you think it’s wise or unwise for us to deal with supervillains as government contractors? If the truly evil are properly compensated, do you believe their lack of conscience will make them less inclined to be whistleblowers? In any case, X-Men arch-enemy Magneto has telekinetic power over metal objects. If the government were to spend billions on F-35 jets that turned out to tarmac installation art, do you believe Magneto could direct them safely in flight?
THE INVISIBLE GIRL: After Pamela Wallin’s failure to fade into the wallpaper during the expenses scandal, do you think Senator Sue Storm could use her powers of invisibility to good effect on Parliament Hill?
TWO-FACE: Considering the double digit percentage of Torontonians who still support mayor Rob Ford, how many do you think would vote for a mayoralty candidate with literally two faces?
THE INCREDIBLE HULK: The state of Israel has no finer friend than Foreign Minister John Baird, who regularly turns red with rage at United Nations decisions. But what about a diplomat who turns green with rage, batting jets like whiffle balls and crushing minarets like Triscuits? Imagine it: “Hulk smash Iran! Hulk smash Syria! Hulk share bottle of Cristal with Benjamin Netanyahu!”
THE MIGHTY THOR: A magnificent mane of hair, a strong jaw, and a hammer that can reduce infrastructure to rubble. Or instead of Rona Ambrose, would you prefer Odin’s son as Minister of Health?
STORM FROM THE X-MEN: Let’s say Halle Barry’s bootylicious mutant became Conservative Member of Parliament for Gander-Nippleworth. Would she be too distracting to the Opposition during Question Period? Would that be such a bad thing from a Tory perspective?
DR. DOOM: Would you approve of the brilliant, disfigured psychopath as Minister for Industry? Or would his legendary rivalry with Mr. Fantastic cause too many problems in First Class during junkets to Europe?
BIZARRO SUPERMAN: Since many Canadians believe the federal government is already operating from Bizarro World, would you support Bizarro Superman as the next Conservative candidate for Prime Minister?