Dateline: OTTAWA—A study headed by Dr. Lawrence Dipplerdoo, medical researcher at McGill University, indicates that excessive exposure to Question Period at the Canadian House of Commons can be fatal. In an interview, Dr. Dipplerdoo said that if you watch all 45 minutes of a Question Period, from beginning to end, there’s a statistically significant chance that your face will melt off of your skull and land in your lap.
The period officially called Oral Questions occurs each sitting day in Ottawa and allows the opposing parties to seek information from the Canadian government. Parties pose a limited number of timed questions to ministers, depending on the size of their caucus, and one or another minister rises to respond.
“Theoretically,” said Dr. Dipplerdoo, “a public exchange like that between elected politicians should be benign or even salutary. Transparency in government is widely assumed to be a virtue. But my team has discovered that transparency is beneficial only if what you’re permitted to see isn’t so horrible that the sight of it melts your face off.”
Dr. Dipplerdoo therefore recommends either that Question Period be kept from the public “as a sort of lethal secret on par with the true name of God” or that television viewers of the abomination be forewarned that they could be left faceless.
According to Dr. Dipplerdoo, the risks have gone unreported until now because hardly anyone bothers to watch even a moment of Question Period, let alone the entire daily cacophony, the assumption being that Canadian politics is boring and therefore unworthy of attention or that Question Period is a circus in which nothing is ever resolved amidst all the taunting and sneering.
However, Dr. Dipplerdoo noticed that recent cases of human face-melting had a common cause, which was that when the bodies were found, the deceased had been sitting in front of their TVs which were tuned to a station that broadcasts Question Period.
“The petty jeering and juvenile cat-calling, the routine dodging of questions and reciting of mere market-tested talking points, the standard refusal to come clean and level with the public, the hypocritical nitpicking by the opposition that’s never saintly when it’s in charge of Parliament—all of that’s familiar to the minority of Canadians who’ve been brave enough to give even a passing glance at a Question Period,” said Dr. Dipplerdoo. “But what we’ve found is that those corruptions can be concentrated and effectively weaponized.”
The doctor hastens to add that the mechanism by which Question Period can kill its viewers is unknown, but his team hypothesizes that “the Canadian politicians’ soul-crushing cynicism, which is so evident in the farcical Oral Questions, is impossible to ignore or to misinterpret when a viewer absorbs a full dose of that poison.
“What can literally kill average Canadians is the shock that a government could be so hollow, that so many elected representatives could so recklessly sabotage the disguises for their nihilism—their conservative haircuts, tailored suits, and the like—by demonstrating their bottomless loathing for each other and for all Canadians.”
The doctor said that the depth of that hatred is evidently contagious and proves lethal in sufficiently high doses—unless the viewers are “immunized by a personal reserve of shamelessness.”
“After all,” the doctor continued, “the politicians sit through day after day of the absurd goings-on at Question Period with their faces intact. We theorize, then, that viewers could survive a full dose of the poison from the House of Commons as long as they, too, were so jaded that nothing could appall them.”
Justin Trudeau, head of the Liberal Party, held a press conference in response to the team’s conclusions. “Canadian politicians are decent and honourable citizens,” he protested, “who work hard and sacrifice much to serve the Canadian people.” Mr. Trudeau denied that the tribal antics on display in Question Periods, including the officials’ manifest contempt for each other, cast any doubt on his meme about the politician’s good intentions.
In a dueling press conference, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that his government would conduct independent studies to attempt to replicate the doctor’s findings. When asked whether Canada would ban the broadcasting of Oral Questions should those findings be replicated, the prime minister said he “doesn’t entertain hypotheticals.”
When asked how it’s possible to think at all as a human being, without the tendency to plan for how the facts might turn out, the prime minister said the question wasn’t serious enough to warrant a response. He then looked into the reporter’s eyes and the emptiness behind the prime’ minister’s seemed to elevate the room’s temperature.