- The Washington Times - Friday, March 27, 2009

INSULTING CANADA

Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson denounced an American television show for mocking Canadian forces in Afghanistan and dismissed speculation about his future in Washington in a meeting Thursday with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

Mr. Wilson said comments by panelists on the Fox News Channel show “Red Eye” were “quite inappropriate.”

“You don’t make satirical jokes about Canadian forces that have been recognized by Presidents Bush and Obama for making a significant contribution to the work in Afghanistan,” he added.

Canada has lost 116 of its soldiers in the war against terrorism since they deployed to Afghanistan in 2001. Four of them were killed last week in a roadside explosion near Kandahar in the violent southern region of the country.

The show’s host, Greg Gutfeld, mocked Canadian forces as he opened a discussion on reports that Canadian Lt. Gen. Andrew Leslie noted that his troops might need a year off after their mission ends in Afghanistan in 2011.

“The Canadian military wants to take a breather to do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white Capri pants,” Mr. Gutfeld said, during an episode of the show last week.

Another panelist, comedian Doug Benson quipped, “I didn’t even know they were in the war. I thought that’s where you go if you don’t want to fight. Go chill in Canada.”

The panelists on the show, which airs weekdays at 3 a.m., also mocked Canadian troops needing a break for “manicures and pedicures.” They joked that Canada should be invaded and made fun of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Mr. Gutfeld apologized this week, after Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay demanded an explanation from Fox News executives.

Mr. Wilson also dismissed “media speculation” about reports that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is considering replacing him for political reasons. The Hill Times newspaper in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, reported last month that a “Washington, D.C.-based source” said Mr. Wilson is perceived as having been too closely associated with the Bush administration and might be ineffective with the Obama White House.

“That’s a red herring,” Mr. Wilson said. “Most issues we deal with are nonpartisan matters. The dialogue with the previous administration and this administration are at very high level.”

Mr. Wilson, a member of the Canadian Conservative Party, has been in Washington since February 2006. Many ambassadors are routinely transferred after an average of three years in a foreign posting.

“In the third year, there is always speculation, but I don’t deal in media speculation,” he said.

MANDRAKE SAYS

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