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Chretien Praises Bush: ''He's Not a Moron''
Here We Go Again
Commentary on the News
Friday, November 22, 2002
Jack Kinsella - Omega Letter Editor

Canada and the United States are increasingly becoming two nations separated by a common language. For example, the recent remark by a top aide to Prime Minister Jean Chretien at the NATO summit. Françoise Ducros, Chretien's director of communications, reportedly called President George Bush 'a moron' during a briefing with reporters.

Chretien leaped to Bush's defense, saying, "He is a friend of mine. He is not a moron at all." Now, that is high praise, indeed.

In examining the wording of Chretien's spirited defense of the US president, a question arises: If Bush wasn't a 'friend' of Chretien's, then would he be a moron?

Ducros made her remark about Bush to Canadian reporters in Prague, while complaining that Bush was using the summit to discuss war with Iraq instead of NATO modernization. "What a moron," Ducros reportedly said.

Immediately following the comment, the Canadian government put a lid on identifying Ducros as the offending official, and news reports in the Canadian press quickly replaced Ducros' name with the generic, 'unnamed official'.

In explaining why he didn't think Bush was a moron, the Prime Minister of Canada explained, "I had a good time with [Mr. Bush] today. You know we discussed many things at the lunch and you saw perhaps him talking to me at the time of the photography [leaders' photo opportunity] ... You know, my personal relations with the President are extremely good."

Ah. Some reporters may 'perhaps' have witnessed evidence of the 'warm personal friendship' between Jean-boy and Dubya, maybe, if they noticed Dubya actually speak to him during a photo-op.

(Soon, they'll be inviting each other home to share Christmas with the folks).

The "moron" remark is just the latest in a history of acrimony between the Chrétien and Bush administrations and part of a longer history of personal animosity between Canadian and American leaders.

Bush and Chrétien began their 'warm personal relationship' when Raymond Chrétien, the PM's nephew and, then-Canadian ambassador to the U.S., delivered a speech in 2000 that amounted to a Canadian political endorsement for Al Gore in the upcoming Election 2000.

Just before the G8 summit in Kananaskis in June, Chrétien dismissed the President's trade subsidy policies as "stupid".

('That's not the same as 'moron'. Bush isn't a moron at all. He's Chretien's friend.)

Chretien has mocked President Bush in front of the Liberal caucus. And there is still bad blood remaining from derogatory remarks Chretien made about his father, George Bush Sr., the former president, when Brian Mulroney was in power.

Chrétien also tried yesterday to mend any damage that might have been caused by criticism levelled by John McCallum, the Defense Minister.

McCallum rebuked the President for calling on Canada and its NATO partners to boost defense spending.

Mr. McCallum also criticized Paul Cellucci, the U.S. ambassador to Ottawa, saying Canadians were "ticked off" at him for publicly urging Canada to increase military spending, which is the lowest in NATO after Luxembourg and Iceland.

(By the way, Iceland doesn't even have an army)

McCallum refused to apologize. He says it's up to Ottawa to decide whether to increase spending and it does not need the Bush administration involving itself in domestic politics.

"I stand by my remarks," he said. "I simply said this is a made-in-Canada decision. I'm on the record as wanting more defense spending, but I'm not asking for support from our American allies on this subject."

Let's see if we got this right. McCallum wants to increase defense spending, but not if it looks like he is doing it to help his American 'allies' (allies?) who just happen to be at war.

It is hard to fathom what is going on inside Chretien's head, if anything at all. The "he's not a moron" defense of Bush reminds me of something one of my kids did once. Called upon to apologize for calling the teacher a jerk when he was in 2nd grade, Number One son promptly replied, "I'm sorry you're a jerk."

Chretien's dislike of Bush personally translates into frosty relations between the two nations, in spite of the fact most Canadians were appalled at Ducros' comment and Chretien's idiotic 'he's not a moron' response.

Alliance Party parliament member Jason Kenney said the "moron" comment was symptomatic of "a consistent pattern of knee-jerk anti-Americanism coming from the government from comparing the American policy on Iraq to Pearl Harbor to blaming the victims of 9/11."

"This is not a silly comment. This is a serious diplomatic faux pas, an attack against the head of state of Canada's largest trading partner and ally. This isn't some flippant remark tossed back and forth across the floor of the House of Commons," said Mr. Kenney.

Tory Party leader and former Prime Minister Joe Clark said the U.S. president "was slandered by a senior official with the prime minister at an international conference.

"They should not be playing cute about it," he said. "They should be making a direct apology to the United States government ... and they should be identifying that person and sending that person home immediately."

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Industry Minister and future Liberal leadership candidate Allan Rock told reporters that such comments by a senior government official were inappropriate and called for an investigation of the incident.

"If it was a senior person in our government who said such a thing, of course it's unacceptable. We have a valued relationship with the United States. This is a sensitive time and we should be emphasizing how much we value that relationship and we should be very careful at this sensitive time.

"There is no room for off-handedness when we're dealing with our relationship with a partner and an ally."

In a stunning display of arrogance, the Canadian Prime Minister's Office said there were 'no plans' to investigate the matter.

It's too bad. Were Chretien set up a parliamentary Committee to Investigate Whether the President of the United States is a Moron, some of these burning questions troubling Canadian officials in Ottawa might be put to rest.

Then they might take a look at the fact Canada is fast becoming the number one terrorist haven in the Western world.

Or that alienating the United States when it is in the middle of a global war on terrorism isn't necessarily in Canada's best interests, even if Chretien believes that it is George Bush that is the moron in this equation.

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