Aug 18

I was blindsided by a humdinger of hilarity this afternoon, overcome by convulsions of cheer: I laughed until tears streamed down my face and I gasped for breath.  My abs are killing me – I’m sure I pulled a muscle.

But I was left feeling utterly cleansed, restored, invigorated.  The occasional good belly laugh is critical to good health after all, more restorative even than coffee enemas or any of the other wacky “wellness” solutions and potions peddled by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Dr. Oz.  It’s no accident that medieval monarchs, weighed down by the stresses of presiding over the peasants, employed court jesters to crowd out their worries.

My earliest acquaintance with laughter as elixir came when I was a lad, long before I entertained the notion of becoming a doctor.  Laughter is the Best Medicine, declared Reader’s Digest (that staple of my TV-bereft youth) each month as caption to a collection of (mostly) corny jokes.  Some of those jokes were even funny. More reliably humorous were the anecdotes related in Life’s Like That at the back of the magazine – funnier because they actually happened to real people.

The best humour of all, I think we can all agree, is the sort that had me in stitches today , the kind that catches one unawares, completely unprepared for gales of gut-busting laughter.

And I had Finance Minister Bill Morneau to thank for my unexpected laugh-fest.  He solemnly addressed reporters in the aftermath of today’s Federal Court of Appeals decision that squashed the TransMountain pipeline project, a project that his government had agreed to buy from Kinder Morgan for 4.5 billion dollars, rendering it worthless only minutes before Kinder Morgan shareholders voted to approve that sale. The good minister had this to say, straight-facedly:

“Taken together, today’s decisions from the Federal Court of Appeal and from Kinder Morgan’s shareholders are important next steps in getting this project built in the right way for the benefit of all Canadians.”

Cue the belly-splitting laughter. Cancellation of the pipeline is an “important next step” in getting the pipeline built.  Hee hee hee.

Dry wit, the deadpan delivery of drollery despite its absurdity, is the crown jewel of comedy, the most delicious form of humour.  But it’s the most difficult style of comedy to master – and Minister Morneau nailed it, it seemed.  Ms. Paltrow, I thought as I snorted coffee through my nose onto my computer, should recruit old Bill for her next Goopfest as sure-fire remedy for the most ardent depressives in her circle of groupies.

I think the only people laughing harder than me today were Jack and Jill Q. Shareholder, erstwhile holders of TransMountain shares and winners of the Lotto Morneau jackpot.  They danced with glee, scarcely able to believe their good fortune at being allowed to decant their shares to Canadian taxpayers at a gold-plated premium immediately after they became worthless.  All sales final, caveat emptor:  if the Canadian government didn’t have the sense to make the purchase contingent on pipeline construction being approved, well that’s too bad for them – there’s a sucker born every single minute.  Hee hee hee.  (By the way, the fact that only 99% of shareholders voted in favor of selling their shares can only mean that one percent of that worthy cohort mislabeled their ballots - or are irrevocably insane.)

It began to dawn on me, unfortunately, in the warm afterglow of my merriment, that Mr. Morneau might not be kidding.  So I watched a clip of his news conference again - and realized that he might actually believe his own nonsense.  Or worse, and more likely, that he takes all of us for fools.

And that’s not funny, unless gallows humour is your thing.  That’s sad, and dangerous, and ruinous for our country.

And the Conservative Party of Canada has chosen this moment to come apart at the seams; we might as well award Trudeau and Morneau and their gang of incompetents another four years by acclamation.

That my friends, is the least funny at all.

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