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Gotcha! Or did we?

April 4th,2024 | Opinion

If you haven’t already changed your dog’s name from “Fido” to “Fifi” to comply with the CAQ’s latest Bill 96 provisions, requiring pet owners to name their furry friends in French, don’t stress. 

That’s because it was one big joke that had readers either laughing hysterically over the gag or fuming over what would have been another unfair shot at anglo-Quebecers. Yes, our front-page story last week, “CAQ got your tongue?” was one of our April Fools’ gags, and despite the outlandish story, some readers were clearly tricked by our foolery. 

Low Down reader and oft contributor Tina Eckerlin who ran into publisher Nikki Mantell last week said hello with a, “You got me!” She fumed over the article before catching the gag. 

Within minutes of the paper’s delivery last Wednesday, the newsroom began receiving messages from readers and friends who clearly appreciated the political satire, whether they believed it or not.

Even the Globe and Mail were impressed, with Chelsea-based reporter Sean Silcoff calling the title “an 11 out of 10 headline. Bravo.”

The dépanneur in Masham also sold out the paper early on Friday, March 29. The cashier said the papers were flying off the shelves because of the CAQ story. Her dog’s name would have been “Croquet.”

The Low Down also received a few equally tongue-in-cheek letters, with one reader offering suggestions for pet names that are cognates, like “Bikini”, “Jazz” or “Radar”. La Pêche resident John Edmunds wrote that he was concerned about the use of the notwithstanding clause for goldfish because, well, they have no feet to stand on. 

And on Facebook, readers ran with the joke and had even more fun. 

“We have already changed ‘Lucy’ to ‘Lucie’, ‘Mickey’ to ‘Michel’ or ‘Miche’ for short, but ‘Derry’ (the other tuxedo cat from a Poltimore dairy farm) is tricky to translate,” wrote Laura McNairn. “So far, we have changed his English spelling to ‘Dairy’ to more easily translate…how about ‘Lait’, but that could be confused with ‘Laid’, which would shatter his confidence.”

While many readers caught the gag, how many caught all three of our April Fools’ stories remains to be seen. Canoers may be outraged to learn that drones are not being used to help paddlers portage across the land (“Drone-tage for paddlers”). And we apologize to any budding pickleballers who thought they might have a shot at playing the growing Hills game at this year’s Paris Olympics (“Pickleball in Paris, anyone?”). Thanks to former Low Down scribe Mike Caesar for that one.

Even if no readers got duped, the staff always have a hoot putting together this front-page fodder every year. When we came up with the “CAQ got your tongue?” headline, it was like a comedy club in the newsroom. 

Thanks for playing along. 

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At the Low Down, we are passionate about delivering quality local news to Gatineau Hills residents. But passion alone cannot pay the bills.

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