A Politician in Canada Accidentally Sent Out a Draft of His Mad Libs-Style Press Release

Evidently, the Conservative Party doesn't trust its politicians with simple stuff like writing funding announcements. And now we know why.

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Jul 22 2015, 9:00pm

This child is so disappointed by Scott's use of prefab press releases. Photo via Facebook

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It's pre-election season in Canada, which means the press releases from all candidates and funding announcements from incumbents are coming out fast and furious.

So fast, in fact, that many of the releases from the Conservative Party are pre-written, sent to Members of Parliament with blanks left for area-specific information. We learned this courtesy of Nova Scotia MP Scott Armstrong, who represents the riding of Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and whose communications spokesperson sent out a press release draft—with the spaces for individuals MPs to fill in still underlined and in bright red.

"The Royal Canadian Legion Amherst Branch 10 is receiving $19,500 through the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) to improve accessibility for Canadians with disabilities," reads the Mad Libs-style release, with the name of the building and funding amount originally left blank. Armstrong's name and constituency were also written in red.

Screenshot via Document Cloud

Armstrong said the release "shouldn't have gone out that way," and that he couldn't see the red text because he was on an old computer, but he also admitted the practice isn't uncommon. "For the accessibility announcements, they do a template and what you try to do is adapt it and try to match the announcement that you're making in that particular area," he said. When CBC googled the first line of the release, omitting just the location, the top results were for four other Conservative MPs.

The similarities don't end with boilerplate details about the EAF or even the Economic Action Plan, however. The press releases also share quotes that are attributed to different people on different releases. A line attributed to Armstrong on his release was apparently also said, word for word, by Federal Employment and Social Development Minister Pierre Poilievre; Poilievre is quoted on the press release that came out of Pickering-Scarborough East MP Corneliu Chisu's office.

While the accidental release of this draft raises a number of questions about the extent to which Conservative messaging is controlled by the party (possibly meaning individual candidates and MPs have little power to respond to their specific constituents' concerns), the strangest part of all of this is that a sitting MP is using a computer so old he can't see red text on it.

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