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'Moron' Jab Doesn't Sink Canadian Spokeswoman

November 23, 2002|From Reuters

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Friday that he had rejected an offer by his chief spokeswoman to resign after she was quoted as calling President Bush a moron.

The reported remark by Francoise Ducros during a NATO summit in Prague prompted demands from Canadian opposition politicians that she be fired.

Chretien told journalists that no one in the U.S. delegation had referred to the comments during several meetings at the summit and he joked that Ducros uses the word "moron" regularly.

"She said to me that if it's causing too much of a problem, she offered her resignation, and I did not accept that because it was a private conversation."

The offending quote, as reported in the National Post and the Sun Media chain of newspapers, was, "What a moron."

The White House, too, has brushed off the remark, but the incident is unlikely to improve the already rocky relationship between Bush and Chretien, who is clearly uncomfortable with the U.S. president's threats of war against Iraq.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark, leader of the minority Conservatives, told Parliament that the bilateral relationship was too important to treat the incident lightly.

Ducros issued a statement apologizing but saying she had not criticized Bush in her official capacity. "The comments attributed to me in no way reflect my personal view of the president of the United States," it said.

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