Canada makes early push for 2013 World Cup of Stupidity

When I called for a World Cup of Stupidity, you probably thought I was joking. You may have looked at other jokes within the same article and thought “Oh, I guess he’s just kidding here as well.”

No. In fact, I have only ever sometimes been any more serious than I was when I said that. You heard me.

If there is one thing that unites us as a species, it is our stupidity. Wherever there are people, something is stupid. In any culture, there is a special flavour of stupid. For any region, there is a local brand of stupid. For any religion, any profession, any philosophy, there is a unique and special subspecies of stupid.

Genius is rare and fleeting. The opposite, however, remains consistent and widespread. We are all idiots from time to time. It unites us. It makes us laugh. It is the very essence of humanity.

I am human; hear me dumb.

So yes, we need to recognize outstanding achievements in this most human of activities. And with that in mind, Canada has made an early push to capture the 2013 title with a little something I like to call...


There had already been complaints about the new plastic money. Last summer saw reports of bills fusing together if stacked and left in a hot place, such as the interior of a car parked in the sun. At the time, just the $100 and $50 bills were plastic, only the most valuable bills in circulation. The rule for replacing such damaged currency is that you need to have the serial number in order to be reimbursed. Try stacking these bills and you will notice that only one bill has a visible serial number. In other words, if you took a brick-sized stack of fused fifties into the bank, they could offer you exactly $50.

The Bank of Canada responded that the bills were tested for temperature resistance. The high temp test involved boiling them in water for an hour. Really. Now, I probably don’t need to explain the difference between a volume of water and the interior of a car, but here’s an example. The air in your car can get hotter than 100C on a very hot summer day. Under such conditions, the water will evaporate, leaving nothing but fresh melted money.

Another way to look at this is that your money is now safe to go through the wash, but sure to melt in the drier.

But that was last year. This year, the stupidity shifts to the design of our new currency. The clear, maple leaf-shaped window on that crisp new twenty of yours is in the shape of a Norwegian maple leaf. That is not the leaf of a Canadian sugar maple, our iconic tree. You may have already heard about this, since the entire world is laughing at us about it.

To the layman, this is easy to miss. If you’re like me, you might look at it and think “Gee, that’s a stylized maple leaf. Hm. Man, the Queen looks old.” And you don’t think any more about it. In fact, it took an astute botanist named Sean Blaney to notice that there was an invasive species on his money.

However, over at the BOC, there happen to be several well-paid people whose jobs revolve around spotting such little oopsies and keeping them out of circulation. Of course, that didn’t exactly happen.

Bank of Canada spokesperson Julie Girard refutes Blaney’s conclusion. “It is not a Norway maple leaf. It is a stylized maple leaf and it is what it ought to be.” In other words, “Shut up! Stop it! You’re mean.”

See for yourself. Here is a Norwegian maple leaf:

And here is the sugar maple:

I don't know about you, but I'm siding with the botanist.

The new twenties had already seen their share of controversy. Replacing the iconic Bill Reid sculpture is the Vimy Memorial, something most Canadians have never seen because it is in France. Why keep a famous sculpture by one of Canada’s most celebrated Native artists when you can have an object located on another continent which happens to bear a creepy resemblance to the Twin Towers? Seriously, a French memorial and a Norwegian maple leaf? Is there any Canadian content left in our money?

The Vimy Memorial also features semi-clothed classical figures which some focus group members have declared “too pornographic.” So at least there’s that.

If there is any real consolation, it’s that these champions over at the Bank of Canada all get paid with the same improperly-mapled money as the rest of us, as does Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, with whom the ultimate blame must rest. As a result, the good folks who enabled Maple-gate are reminded of their own incompetence every time they open their wallets. A fitting punishment for a major blunder.

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