Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 04.28.11
Stanstead, Quebec


What a Canadian friend we have in Stephen

Here's how it works on my Facebook page: you send me a Friend request and I ask myself, "Is this person a jerk?" If the answer is "Probably not," you're in.

As you see, there's not a huge screening process. I don't, for example, vet people on their political leanings. I don't know and I don't particularly care.

Over the last few weeks, though, I've noticed substantial Harper-bashing in my Facebook feed. Not so for Conservative support. In fact, out of roughly 200 Facebook contacts, I can think of only one friend who is an in-your-face true-blue Conservative.

But that can't be right, can it? Statistically, I must have more right-leaning friends than that. I mean, not everyone listens to the CBC, right? Could it be that some of my Facebook friends are too embarrassed to come out of the Conservative closet? Could Conservative be the party that dare not speak its name?

I don't think it's the policy, which is all very bottom-line: boost employment, keep the economy ticking, ensure my home and family are unthreatened and comfortable, reduce taxes, spend as little as possible, uphold values. All good stuff. So what's the problem?

Could my Conservative friends be keeping mum because they're ashamed of the prime minister himself?

This got me thinking: what if Stephen Harper were a real person?

That is, if Stephen Harper were a friend, what kind of friend would he be?

I imagine Friend Stephen would be the type of friend who would come over to your house for a barbecue and insist on taking over the grill, arguing that only his heightened vigilance could ensure that the neighbours won't sneak into the yard and steal the meat right off the grill, because that's what neighbours do.

He'd only cook hamburgers rare, and when someone would point out the obvious health risk, Friend Stephen would banish this person from the party, declaring in a haughty tone that salmonella is just a theory.

Friend Stephen would ask to join your Novel Idea Book Club. Once accepted, he'd become an eloquent contributor, though a little hung up on the "dirty stuff."

Friend Stephen would introduce several new members but not let them say anything. Soon, he'd get himself elected president of the club, start shouting over the other members, change the club name to the Friend Stephen Book Club, adopt a "tough on dues" policy resulting in the expulsion of 30 percent of the original members, and then ban all "non-traditional" books from the reading list, including works by E.M. Forster and Oscar Wilde, if you know what I mean. No one would complain, however, because Friend Stephen always brings most excellent cupcakes.

Friend Stephen would borrow your cell phone and purposely delete important contact information, explaining that you didn't need most of that data and a lot of it was really none of your business anyway.

Friend Stephen would hit you up to buy chocolate bars from his son who's raising money for children in need. You'd buy one for $6, later discovering that the children in question are junior members of the Old Drawlington Racquet Club and what they're in need of is a fourth tennis court. You also learn that the chocolate bars actually cost $5.

Friend Stephen would take credit for landing you a job because he lent you the dollar that bought the newspaper that contained the job listing. Then he'd want the dollar back.

Friend Stephen would slam his laptop shut every time you walked by.

Friend Stephen would instruct his golf caddy to take a stroke off each hole and later look you in the eye and say he never cheats. You wouldn't be allowed to talk to his caddy.

I imagine, eventually you'd want to distance yourself from Friend Stephen because having such a friend reflects badly on you. Sure, Friend Stephen gets things done, but at what cost?

Friend Stephen certainly wouldn't pass my Facebook test. So why would I want him to be prime minister?

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