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Can This Onion Ring Get More Fans Than Harper? Yep!

With Olympic rings floating in the harbour and plastered on signage all over town, you'd expect many Vancouver residents would be about ready to ring off -- until this week. Suddenly another ring has emerged to capture the hearts of people across the country. It's the hottest page on Facebook: Can This Onion Ring Get More Fans Than Stephen Harper? The answer: Yes it can. And quicker than you can say "Pass me that breath mint."

The Facebook page features a picture of an onion ring and a plea for support. It wasn't long in coming. Started about 48 hours ago by an anonymous Facebooker, the page caught fire fast. By Wednesday evening it had passed 8,000 fans; at times, totals were mounting at the rate of hundreds per minute. By Thursday afternoon PST, the onion ring had acquired more than 29,800 fans and surpassed the Prime Minister's fan totals. As one poster put it: "Stephen Harper will be playing ketchup."

Fan letters and pledges of support have flooded the page wall, with just the occasional grumpy remark from a Conservative supporter. The "Can This Onion" page has so far avoided much of the partisan rancor so common to online political discussions. It may simply be that years of A&W advertising have laid the groundwork for a candidate that unites all Canadians.

Harper is not the first Canadian public figure to be targeted by a deep-fried Facebook snack. The attack on the prime minister is a spin-off of the earlier page, "Can This Onion Ring Get More Fans Than Justin Bieber?," created by Toby Brittan. Bieber is a pubescent Canadian pop star whose popularity is apparently not universal -- over a million fans have signed up for his greasy antagonist. However, the cherubic Bieber is shedding no tears just yet -- at over 1,500,000 fans, he has a comfortable lead over his odoriferous rival. Harper on the other hand has seen the onion run rings around him within a matter of hours.

So far the Onion group seems united and strong. Still, potential problems loom -- the issue of vegetable vs. canola oil or even beef fat in the deep-frier could still lead to schism. Several posters have spoken favourably of poutine -- that kind of groundswell could threaten both the health and unity of the new party.

Whether this really reveals more about the Canadian political situation or simply the rhythms of social networking is open to debate. More than one new onion ring fan has posted the following question: "Who is Stephen Harper?"

Steve Burgess writes about film and, now, important Facebook trends, for The Tyee.

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