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The Passport of Dorian Gray

By Victor Schwartzman
October 5, 2015

Be warned! This tale is creepy. If you have a delicate heart or are easily frightened, stop reading now. Of course, if you are easily frightened avoid reading anything on the election.

MP Dorian Gray is running to keep his seat in the current federal election. A few weeks before the campaign began, the federal Government issued to Dorian and everyone else in Canada the most technologically advanced passport in the world. Dorian liked his new passport, especially the new photograph of him and how handsome he looked.

Soon, however, Dorian saw something disturbing about his passport photo. It began to change. To use only one issue, after he failed to keep promises to implement access legislation, his photo’s eyes became sunken and dark. After lying repeatedly about supporting a Canadians With Disabilities Act, his photo lips took on a disgusting leer. And after he insisted he wanted people with disabilities to have rights, his photo nose grew longer than Pinocchio’s. Yet although the image in the photograph grew increasingly degenerate, Dorian himself appeared as handsome as ever.

Unsettled, he spoke with other politicians who told him they were in the same situation. As they did their daily work as a politician or candidate, their passport photographs took on their sins. Mouths drooled, cheekbones sank, hairlines receded, skin flaps ran amok. But when Dorian asked non-politicians to show him their new high tech passports, the photographs were normal. Only politicians’ passports contained the changing photos.

Normally politicians are not models of self-awareness or, more generally, awareness. In spite of himself Dorian was drawn to this mystery. He knew the photo somehow affected him. Since receiving his new passport, he campaigned better. Previously he felt twinges of guilt when lying to voters. He knew people with disabilities desperately needed basic human rights. He knew Canada deserved a better environment. He knew workers deserved a better deal. However, with the new passport in his pocket Dorian felt less and less guilt. Lying may be a slippery slope but his poll numbers were up and he felt good about himself no matter what lies he told voters.

Still, Dorian worried. This could be some type of plot Were the passports cursed? Was it a terrorist plot? Worse, was it a voter plot? (Dorian feared voters more than terrorists.) He had to know the truth. Using his contacts, it was not difficult to track down the technology company contracted by the federal Government to create the new passports. Soon Dorian was in the head offices of Cyberdine Systems, shaking hands with its CEO, Miles Dyson.

“I wondered when one of you would show up,” Dyson told him. “I’m surprised it took this long. Aren’t the other politicians curious?”

Dorian explained, “Most politicians told me the passport is working great, so it’s best not to think about it. I agree. But I do have questions. Why are politicians affected by the new passports and no one else?”

Dyson smiled. “The federal Government asked us to design special passports for politicians. Specifically, the photographs. There was an all-party agreement on us developing a passport which allowed politicians to lie and still look innocent.”

Dorian produced his passport, which showed a debauched man decades older. “If the purpose of the photograph was to absorb my sins,” Dorian told Dyson, “thank you! It works! I lie and this photograph takes the damage. This is the best thing in politics since the teleprompter. How is this possible?”

Dyson tried to look modest. “We combined advanced technology with black magic. It took a lot of overtime for them to be available for the election. Politicians need the passports even more during an election because of all extra promises they make which they know they will never keep.”

“Only politicians have these special passports?”

He shrugged. “With the Government’s agreement, the passports were also given to the operators of quick loan stores and the CEOs of processed food companies which advertise “natural” ingredients.”

Dorian sighed with relief. “That explains everything. Thanks, and thank goodness! I worried there was something wrong.”

You were warned this story was creepy. There is no happy ending, at least not if you are a voter. The election campaign is still on. What would the hidden portraits of your candidates reveal?

Next: Election bulletin: The NDP Supports a Canadian With Disabilities Act, But Nobody Knows About It. Otherwise As Of This Writing Nothing New Which Is Also Not New.

Victor Schwartzman has contributed this weekly satirical column to Accessibility News and the AODA Alliance since May 13, 2013. Check out of his current satirical fantasy novel, King Of The Planet, for free on Facebook. The unpolished first nine chapters got a “4 out of 5 star” review! He is currently polishing the novel. His graphic novel The Winnipeg Weakly Herald (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great lit site, He has poetry and short fiction published, and has edited novels. His email is