As a former bureaucratic word slinger I’ve written my fair share of speeches, news releases and communications plans, only to have what I would consider to be good work slashed apart by program areas, Deputy Minister Offices and finally, the Minister’s Office itself. It’s not an easy gig, as any product that you create has to go through more levels of approval than there are layers of hell. And each of those different levels all want to put their own custom stamp on your work so that they can claim ownership if someone higher up likes it.
Government writers spend just as much time negotiating that mess as they do actually writing. With that experience, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what it would take for a regular communications officer to get pop cultural references placed in a government news release. That’s why I probably have more appreciation than most for this paragraph from a recent news release from the Canada Revenue Agency:
Parents whose children participate in paid artistic, cultural, recreational, and developmental programs will now enjoy the same benefit as parents whose children participate in paid programs of physical activity. Our Government believes whether a child is inspired by Justin Bieber, Karen Kain, Brett Lawrie, or The Tragically Hip, parents should receive a tax credit to help pay for the programs that will help their children live out those dreams.
I can ignore the fact that Lawrie has only had 50 plate appearances at the Major League level, which is probably too small a sample size to be inspiring anyone, and embrace the reference knowing that whoever wrote it probably had to fight for its inclusion. And when the Government of Canada starts referring to baseball players in its news releases, it’s probably a good sign that the sport’s popularity in this country is growing.
Well done, anonymous writer, well done.