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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 09.27.10
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Bonhomme not so bon?

QUEBEC CITY | Still reeling from the furor over his image being used on the cover of Maclean's magazine, Bonhomme Carnaval has retreated to an undisclosed location and is no longer granting interviews.

To illustrate a cover story claiming Quebec to be the most corrupt province in Canada, MacleanÕs unearthed a photograph of Mr. Carnaval carrying a large briefcase overflowing with cash. Questions are now being raised about the source of that money.

At a press conference last week, a very pale Mr. Carnaval told reporters that he was on his way to deliver a charitable gift to the Société de la protection des breuvages glacés when the photograph was taken.

"Yes, it was a 'slush fund' if you want to call it that but it's not what you think," he said.

Responding to a flurry of questions, Mr. Carnaval claimed that the money was the result of a bar bet he made with his good friend Youppi. He would not reveal the exact nature of the bet other than to say that it involved bare-knuckle boxing, fifteen pounds of brisket, and a bevy of Alouettes cheerleaders.

Asked why the cash was spilling out of the briefcase, Mr. Carnaval grew frosty with reporters and snapped, "You try packing with mittens on!"

While officials with Quebec City's winter carnival continue to officially support the amenable snowman, a source with the annual festival said that organizers are worried that Mr. Carnaval's alleged connections with "dubious individuals" might put a chill on the winter carnival.

"We're hearing stories about Bonhomme visiting Premier Charest to pressure him into appointing the Bishop's University mascot to the bench," said the source. "Talk about unqualified. I mean, that alligator doesn't even have a name. What's it going to be, 'His Honour Judge Gator'? Please..."

Matters have not been helped by a recently surfaced recording of a well-known Montreal underworld figure instructing someone alleged to be Mr. Carnaval to put an individual "on ice."

Despite the rumours of the snowman being dirty, many organizations and politicians have come to his defense, condemning the MacleanÕs cover as "sensational," "exploitive," and "cold."

"Bonhomme is an ice guy with simple tastes," said a longtime associate. "What's he spend his money on? Toques, belts, giant black buttons. Okay, so he goes overboard on the Caribou from time to time but, hey, he's only human... sort of."

All this focus on the Carnaval crisis has drawn attention away from other allegations in the MacleanÕs article, although these too have not gone unnoticed. For example, the Quebec Association of Briefcase Manufacturers was quick to condemn the magazine.

"Look at that briefcase spilling content all over. What is that? That's ridiculous. Quebec makes way better briefcases than that," said the association's Jean Valise. "We are insulted, humiliated, and not happy at all. It's a typical English-Canada attack on the Québécois carryall."

As for Bonhomme Carnaval himself, it is believed that he is trying to distance himself from any hint of corruption by chilling out overseas. International news agencies are reporting that Mr. Carnaval has been spotted lending his support to organizers of the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.

MacleanÕs magazine, meanwhile, is defending its depiction of Bonhomme Carnival on its cover.

"This was no snow job," said Associate Editor of Sanctimony Lance Bullock. "We're merely reporting what we see and in this case the facts speak for themselves. I mean, look at that smug grin on his face."

Next week, MacleanÕs magazine is planning a cover story about Anne of Green Gables' sordid life of prostitution and addiction to prescription potatoes.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through www.townships.ca. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca.

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