Canadian Who Called Bush 'Moron' Quits

Associated Press 11/26/02

Original Link:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-2200765,00.html

TORONTO (AP) - A top aide to Prime Minister Jean Chretien resigned Tuesday over the controversy caused by her private comment last week that U.S. President George W. Bush was a moron.

Francoise Ducros, who initially offered to quit but was kept on by Chretien, is leaving the prime minister's office after all, said a statement issued by Chretien's chief of staff.

In a letter of resignation to Chretien, Ducros wrote: ``It is very apparent to me that the controversy will make it impossible for me to do my job.''

``I would therefore like to leave my position as director of communications immediately,'' the letter said. ``I am grateful for the support you have given me during this difficult time.''

Chretien accepted the resignation this time, responding in a letter: ``In your almost four years as director of communications, you have served the government as a whole, and me personally, with extraordinary skill and dedication.''

The comment made in a discussion with a radio reporter last week at the NATO summit in Prague has dominated Canadian media, with daily newspaper and broadcast stories on the aftermath that has included calls for her resignation by opposition politicians.

On Tuesday, the National Post newspaper ran a front-page story on a debate over the matter the previous night on the U.S. cable network CNN.

``What a moron,'' is the quote attributed to Ducros during what she called a private conversation with a reporter that was overhead by other reporters who wrote about it.

She apologized last week, but the furor has continued in Canada. On Monday, some opposition members of Parliament noted the comment appeared in an Iraqi newspaper editorial, characterized as Western opposition to Bush.

Chretien initially tried to play down the incident, telling a Prague news conference the comment was unfortunate and that Bush was a friend of his ``and not a moron at all.''

He also denied the comment harmed relations with Washington, saying he received no official complaints from U.S. officials at the summit.

Conservative media and political foes, however, characterized the moron comment as a signal of worsening relations between the North American neighbors, who share the world's largest trade partnership.

When asked about the comment last week, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer dismissed it as ``something from someone who doesn't speak for the Canadian government.''

Despite their military ties and common democratic values, Canada has traditionally adopted more liberal social policies. Examples include diplomatic ties with Cuba, a ban on capital punishment and more lenient immigration policies.

Increased disputes between Ottawa and Washington were expected when the conservative Bush was elected in 2000 to succeed Bill Clinton, whose administration had closer ideological ties with Chretien's Liberal Party.

Since Bush's election, the United States has imposed punitive duties on softwood lumber imported from Canada and is investigating possible penalties on Canadian wheat.

Nevertheless, Canada took in flights diverted from U.S. air space after the Sept. 11 attacks and contributed troops, ships and reconnaissance planes to the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan. Chretien said Canada also would take part in a U.N.-authorized attack on Iraq.










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