Satirists mock Stephen Harper’s trip to Israel

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and wife Laureen visit Mount of Olives in Israel on SundayMost political watchers in Canada have probably heard of The Onion — the U.S.-based satire news website that features, sometimes, witty reports on politics, pop culture and international headlines.

What they might not know, however, is that Canada has its own version of it called The Beaverton.

Its latest story is a good one.

The online publication has satirized Stephen Harper's trip to Israel and his unflinching support of the Jewish nation.

Here are some excerpts of the piece titled: Israeli Prime Minister Stephen Harper returns after long visit in Canada:

After nine long years travelling in Canada to promote his country, Israel’s prime minister Stephen Harper is finally back in his homeland.

“From what I have learned, Canada is a beautiful and proud country,” announced Harper after his arrival at Ben Gurion airport was greeted by deputy Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and throngs of admirers. “I persuaded the Canadian government to become a strong supporter of Israel. After all, Canadians are very polite people who want to please.”

During his prolonged state visit to Canada, the Israeli PM has made several thousands of addresses in Canadian parliament and also represented Canada at the G8, G20, NATO and the UN. Harper also thanked Canada for being generous enough to pay 200 people to accompany him home.

Harper even had time to write a book on Canada’s national sport - “iced hockey” - but stated he never understood the country’s fascination with the game and is just happy to be home.

The full article — written by Montreal-based James Bunting — can be seen here.

[ Related: Stephen Harper’s ‘historic’ trip reignites debate about his staunch support of Israel ]

The Beaverton is the brainchild of Toronto resident Laurent Noonan, who started the company four years ago.

"I was always a big fan of the Onion but they don't really cover Canadian politics so there was a really a gap for this," Noonan told Yahoo Canada News in a telephone interview Monday.

"So that was the basic idea was to bring a similar publication to Canada and focus on the Canadian politics."

The Beaverton team consists of an editorial contingent of between four or five people and a core of about 20 volunteer contributors which includes, in its ranks, aspiring writers, a lawyer, a teacher, an individual with a Masters degrees in public policy and a PhD candidate.

Ideas for stories come from what Noonan calls "spitball sessions," online brainstorming sessions where the team throws out as many as 40 or 50 headlines on the hot topic of the day.

The process has worked pretty well for them — in 2013 thebeaverton.com had 2.5 million hits but Noonan says the company is still working on "monetizing" their business.

"We're still new on the scene so we're brand building," he said identifying some established Canadian political satire competitors in Frank Magazine, This Hour has 22 Minutes and CBC Radio's This is That.

"It takes time to develop as a business."

[ Related: Harper's security team accused of roughing up journalist on Middle East tour ]

In terms of stories, Noonan says that Rob Ford and Stephen Harper yarns do well but that The Beaverton's top stories in 2013 were a little "off the board."

"We took an angle on the Quebec language law. We had this article about a parrot getting deported from the Montreal biodome because he picked up too much English from the tourists visiting it," Noonan recounts.

"Our biggest hits were on two Chris Hadfield stories. One when he came back from outer space, we wrote a story that [when] he came home he had over a million dollar phone bill from Rogers from all the tweeting and sending Instagrams from space.

"And another story about Chris Hadfield, where he went to see the movie Gravity and was heckling because he didn't like the inaccuracies and the [unrealistic space scenes]. He got kicked out of the theatre. It was a ridiculous story but it got picked up as real by quite a few different [media] outlets. That one went...viral too."

[ More Politics: Is Quebec's values charter the PQ's ticket to a majority? ]

The Israel piece hasn't gone viral yet, but its writer Bunting says it's getting some good online buzz.

As of publication time, it had about 1,500 shares.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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