The light at the end of the tunnel was turned off for Earth Day, March 28th, 2015, and Mr Edwin Smith, the Federal employee responsible, forgot to turn it back on. He was preoccupied, you see, because he was thinking about his retirement party, for Mr Smith’s last day was Tuesday, March 31st, and he was looking forward to sitting around the house all day watching several years of recorded television on his PVR. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack two days before his retirement, apparently because he could no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The light stayed off for almost three weeks before anyone realized it, when a Mrs Edna Jones called to complain that she could no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel. By then, since no one knew why it was off, everyone was hesitant to anything about it. Bill in accounting speculated that maintenance was working on it and that it would be dangerous to turn it back on, while Hank in maintenance blamed the bean counters for mismanaging the budget.
Eventually, Mr Banks, director of the department, received an email from the assistant deputy minister inquiring about the light, and it was turned back on at her request. However, at the end of April, when Mr Banks submitted his departmental summary for fiscal year 2014-2015, he noticed in passing that there was a net savings in the light at the end of the tunnel expenses and pointed this out to his superiors.
As he had managed his yearly budget to a small surplus, Mr Banks received a higher-than-anticipated year-end bonus, which made him very happy indeed. Over dinner that evening, his widowed mother, Mrs Banks, asked if he could repeat the feat, and so Mr Banks had the light turned off again the very next day.
For a time, he began to have the light turned off in the evening, when there were no operators to receive calls from irate citizens, and turned back on in the morning. When a call did come in questioning why the light at the end of the tunnel had been off the previous evening, the operators were instructed to respond that the light was being maintained and that it had since been turned back on. This satisfied most callers, and the few that were still unhappy were mailed an autographed glossy picture of Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a short letter stating that the Harper government valued their input and that the matter would be given the attention it deserved without further delay.
By the end of March, 2016, the department had saved a significant amount on electricity and Mr Banks received an excellent year-end bonus, as well as notification that his Fiscal Year 2017 budget was being cut for running a surplus two years straight. Mr Banks immediately applied for a transfer to another department.
So on the day that eight-year-old Virginia Lamb called the Government of Canada toll-free number to enquire about why the light at the end of the tunnel was no longer visible, she was informed that the government had disconnected the light for her benefit, so that she might enjoy lower income taxes.