OTTAWA - A Canadian Alliance MP fell victim to an international
hoax yesterday that announced the World Trade Organization was
closing down and returning as a new organization more sensitive to
the needs of developing countries.
The official-looking press release, posted on a Web site run by
an anti-globalization group called the Yes Men, appeared so
authentic to Alliance trade critic John Duncan that he raised the
matter in Question Period.
"Mr. Speaker ... the World Trade Organization has decided to
effect a cessation of all operations to be accomplished over the
next four months, culminating by the end of September," Mr. Duncan
said. "The World Trade Organization will reintegrate as a new trade
body, the Trade Regulation Organization. Will the government inform
Canadians what impact this will have on our appeals on lumber,
agriculture and other ongoing trade disputes?"
Pat O'Brien, parliamentary secretary to Pierre Pettigrew,
Minister for International Trade, was understandably confused by the
question and offered only a generic response that the government
would continue to press its cases before the WTO.
Once made aware of the hoax, Mr. Duncan retracted his comments in
"It was a brilliant master stroke," the somewhat red-faced
Alliance MP said later with a chuckle. He complimented the group on
its innovative approach and said he only began to suspect the
announcement was a hoax as he read the portion that said the
organization's head offices would be moved from Geneva to the
capital of a less-developed country. Unfortunately, he said, he had
only read about half the release when his turn came to ask a
"I've certainly learned to be a little more careful when it comes
to these sorts of announcements," Mr. Duncan said.
While clearly annoyed, the WTO admitted yesterday that the Yes
Men had won the day.
"Some of you may have received a press release from those clever
folks at Yes Men, which purports to be a press release from the
World Trade Organization public relations," Keith Rockwell, the
WTO's director of information and media relations, said in a release
of his own. "Needless to say, the communiqué is a hoax.
"While we can appreciate their sense of humour, we would not wish
for reputable news organizations like yours to be counted among