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Posted by Online.ie on November 27, 2002 at 16:31:43:
Canadian official quits after calling Bush a 'moron'
An aide to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has quit following an outcry over reports she privately called US President George Bush a "moron".
Francoise Ducros, who was Chretien's director of communications, used the expression during a conversation at last week's Nato summit in Prague.
The Canadian premier was forced to make light of the remark. Bush "is a friend of mine. He's not a moron at all," he told reporters at the summit.
Ducros has said she does not remember making the comment and never used the word in her official capacity. She offered to resign last week, but Chretien defended her and initially refused to accept her resignation.
Her remark, reportedly made in a news briefing room, touched off a debate in Canada about the state of US-Canadian relations and was cited as a gauge of the strength of anti-American sentiment in the country.
The controversy continued as members of opposition political parties raised concern that Ducros's comment was being used by Baghdad as an example of opposition to Bush's talk of military action in Iraq.
"It is Saddam Hussein's official media outlet which is now using the words of the spokesperson of the prime minister and of the government to insult this country," Jason Kenney of the Canadian Alliance party told parliament.
"By allowing her words to stand, by not accepting her resignation and by not apologising for these offensive remarks, the government and the prime minister have indicated that this constitutes tolerable conduct on the part of their spokesperson."