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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 04.19.05
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

The scandal that brought the Murray house to its knees

Day 3 of the testimony by Ross Murray before the Gomery Commission on the Canadian federal sponsorship scandal

Gomery: Please state your name and occupation.

Murray: My name is Ross Murray. I am a part-time writer and flibbertigibbet.

Gomery: Can you tell the inquiry when you were first approached by the Liberal Party of Canada?

Murray: It was 2000, late summer I think. An election was coming. I was the owner of The Stanstead Journal at the time and we were having a good quarter. "Wow, look at all these huge full-page ads from Groupaction and Groupe Everest for federal government programs and initiatives," I remember saying. "I'm really excited about the way the Chrétien Liberals support community newspapers. They really have my interests at heart."

Word got around that I was a Liberal-friendly guy, someone who might want to get involved. That's when I was first approached.

Gomery: By whom?

Murray: I only knew him as "Vinny" though sometimes on the phone he would call himself "Doris."

Gomery: And what did he tell you?

Murray: He pulled up beside me on his scooter and said, "We hear you want to 'get involved' with the Liberal Party." I said that was so. "I have some friends up in Ottawa who are very interested in what you can do for the party. They send a message."

Gomery: And what was the message?

Murray: "Knock it off."

Gomery: How did you react?

Murray: I told Vinny that I was excited about the Liberals and their work - creating gun registries, backing golf courses, and commissions! I love Royal Commissions! But Vinny said "Maybe we could make it worth your while to look the other way." Then he pulled out an envelope.

Gomery: What was in the envelope?

Murray: There were fifty $100 bills, tickets to "Disney on Ice presents Tron," and a photo of Jean Chrétien choking that protestor. There was a big arrow over the protestor and the word "YOU" scrawled in marker.

Gomery: What did you do then?

Murray: I did what I thought I was supposed to do. I took the money to "Disney on Ice," gave it to my usher and said, "This is for you-know-who" and then enjoyed the combination of early-Eighties special effects and the spectacle of Jeff Bridges on skates. Later, I mailed the photo back to the Prime Minister's Office with the words "CAN COUNT ON ME" written under the "YOU." You see, Chrétien was kind of winking in that photo…

Gomery: But that wasn't the only time you were approached, is that correct?

Murray: That's right. Shortly after I put an "Liberals Do It In Committee" bumper sticker on my Hyundai, I received another visit from Vinny. He said, "Our friends in Ottawa send another message." Then from out of his ball gown he pulled an envelope. This one contained a hundred $50 bills, a roll of breath mints, and a brochure entitled "The Bloc Québécois: Really, We're Not So Bad."

Gomery: Then what?

Murray: Vinny said, "There's more where that came from. Plus, if you keep it up, we can offer your newspaper the services of the PM's nephew. He has no evident social skills and likes to quack like a duck. Not even the ad firms will 'hire' him. We think he'd be perfect for telemarketing newspaper subscriptions."

Gomery: Did you hire him?

Murray: Yes but he didn't sell any subscriptions. He just sat in a corner writing a biography of René Simard. All the money I received from the party went into sating his appetite for sushi.

Gomery: How long did this go on?

Murray: Just until after the election. That was when my wife inadvertently signed us up as members of the Liberal Party. She… she thought we'd get a free toaster and the Sheila Copps swimsuit calendar but… [breaks down] we never did.

Gomery: Did you stop receiving payment after that?

Murray: Yes and shortly thereafter I became disillusioned with the party, the newspaper industry, and figure skating.

Gomery: Then that was that.

Murray: With the Liberals, yes. But in late spring of 2001, I was approached by a friend of a friend of a friend of some guy named Harper…

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