Should we really be this upset that Francoise Ducros, Jean Chretien’s director of communications, called George Bush a “moron” at a NATO summit in Prague this week?
No, of course not.
For one thing, in the context of a private conversation it’s fair comment. George Bush has, after all, regularly dished out bon mots like “They misunderestimated me” and “It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.” Also, George W. would be hypocritical for making a fuss about some random insult making the papers. Bush himself got into the same kind of trouble during his presidential campaign. Unaware that his microphone was on, Bush turned to Dick Cheney and said “There’s Adam Clymer of the New York Times, a major-league asshole.” This is also the guy whose administration routinely refers to our long-standing prime minister as “dino.” And I’ll betcha a Coke that what they say about Chrétien behind closed doors is even worse. But who cares, anyway?
Oh right, the opposition parties. They’ve seized on Ducros’ gaffe, charging that somehow Chrétien’s underling will damage trade relations with our biggest trade partners in the U.S. Even if a press flack did have the power to affect billions of dollars of trade, a little lip about the U.S. couldn’t hurt. This is the supposedly right-wing, pro-free trade administration that has thumbed their nose at Canadian workers, dishing out massive subsidies to their farmers while retaining tariffs on softwood lumber. Perhaps if we adopted a more sovereign stance with our neighbours to the south, we’d get more of what we want. Something along the lines of “Play ball on trade or shut up about us joining your silly wars.”
Anyway, it sucks that the opposition parties will jump on anything that makes the federal government look bad, even though they know it won’t stick. It just distracts from the really shitty things the Liberals do. Last week they refused to reconsider compensation for victims of tainted blood, even though criminal charges were laid. And what about the long line of ethically-challenged Liberal Ministers who have resigned for awarding contracts to party supporters, family members and even their girlfriends? Chrétien’s response to that is his much-ballyhooed ethics package, which still leaves much discretion to the PM himself. So much for reform!
There’s too much for the opposition to sink their teeth into. And of all the issues to put front and centre last week, the amplification of some party hack’s flub does little but provide an excuse for those dinks on Crossfire to bash Canada.