Fake News: Canada Did NOT Pay Off Entire Federal Debt One Day After Marijuana Legalization

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Canada Did NOT Pay Off Entire Federal Debt One Day After Marijuana Legalization

Was Canada able to pay off its entire federal debt one day after legalizing marijuana because of all the extra tax money coming in? No, that's not true: a small Canadian satire website scored a huge viral hit with a fictional article making that claim but it is not real.

The story originated from an article published by The Daily Bonnet on October 19, 2018 titled "Canada Pays Off Entire Federal Debt One Day After Marijuana Legalization" (archived here) which opened:

OTTAWA, ON Less than 24 hours after cannabis became legal in Canada, the federal government announced they had made so much money in tax revenue from the sale of legal weed that they were able to pay off the country's entire $650 billion debt.

"I told you so," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, looking considerably less handsome than usual with his blood-shot eyes. "It's remarkable! You're crippled with debt one day and the next it's all vanished into thin air. It's just one more thing that makes Canada the great country that it is!"

However The Daily Bonnet carries following disclaimer on its "About" page:

The Daily Bonnet is a Mennonite satirical news site from the heart of the Bible belt, Steinbach, Manitoba. Apart from the names of local and international celebrities, all characters and situations presented are entirely fictitious.

The last two paragraphs of the story are also a big hint the entire thing is just a big joke:

"We were down to $300 billion by ten in the morning," said Minister of Finance Bill Morneau. "Sales were steady all day and by early evening our decade's old debt was completely gone. Thanks, cannabis!"

The debt reduction strategy has been praised by pundits as a miracle of economics, although a few suspect the Finance Minister was high when he made the calculations.

Don't get taken in!

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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