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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Bush chickens out

[originally posted to Daimnation!]

The Leader of the Free World has, sadly, decided the risk of getting heckled by the likes of Carolyn Parrish is too great for him to address Parliament:

President George W. Bush will avoid a potentially hostile reception in Parliament and travel to Halifax next week after his first official trip to Ottawa, White House sources said yesterday. Bush's side trip to thank Canadians who helped out after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will come after a working visit Tuesday with Prime Minister Paul Martin and a dinner reception with hundreds of prominent Canadians.

American officials involved in planning the trip were worried about a cranky audience on Parliament Hill, sources said.

"We didn't see the need and, frankly, we didn't want to be booed. There are other, better venues," said one U.S. official.

Last week, the White House brushed off the latest anti-American outburst of MP Carolyn Parrish, who appeared on a comedy show stomping on a Bush doll before Martin turfed her from the Liberal caucus.

Her antics didn't directly contribute to the decision to avoid Parliament, sources said.

But Bush wanted to avoid another embarrassing incident like the one in Australia last year, when he was shouted down by Green party senators while trying to address the parliament in the capital, Canberra.

And U.S. officials noted during planning discussions that Ronald Reagan was heckled by New Democrats opposed to his missile defence scheme during that president's 1987 state visit to Canada.

Bush's critics say he lives in a bubble, shielded from criticism and bad news, and this story makes me think they has a point.  Did Winston Churchill shy away from all but the most stage-managed public events, for fear that someone might say something nasty about him?  Canadians hated Reagan in 1987 almost as much as they hate Bush today, but he still took his message to Parliament - and when Svend Robinson heckled him, Reagan put him in his place with a well-timed one-liner.  ("Is there an echo in here?") 

Bush, alas, is no Reagan.  (And while we're at it, does he realize Halifax is the home of "This Hour Has 22 Minutes"?  Does he think the cast of that reliably anti-American satire show isn't going to try something while he's in town?)

Posted by Damian Penny on November 25, 2004 in International Politics | Permalink


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Actually Trudeau told Robinson off too but clearly this doesn't fit into your ideology so you conveniently forgot to mention it.
Also by "anti-American" do you mean to suggest that criticism of the Bush administration is criticism of their entire country? If so, there are a ton of self-loathing Americans down there.

Posted by: Justin | 2004-11-25 3:49:00 PM

We saw what CTV did with Allawi's and what the CBC does with taxpayer provided its entertainment allowance.

So, consider this from the administration's cost-benefit perspective - you're dealing with a Liberal government with a long established reputation for childish anti-Americanism, that will exploit the worst of that trait whenever politically expedient. The US media is unlikely to even cover the visit, much less the speech - unless there is heckling or a problem with security - in which case the sound bite will play relentlessly.

The Canadian press seeks only to use your address as just another excuse for an editorial screed on Iraq and US foreign policy noweaponsofmassdestruction Bush-hitler!!!!!

And what's to be gained? Nada. Zip. It's not as though what we think matters. As an ally, Canada is militarily irrelevant and about as reliable as France. We dont' hold the hammer on any trade issues - they do.

And privately, I suspect Paul Martin is quietly relieved.

Posted by: Kate | 2004-11-25 4:18:41 PM

I think of it as more of a pointed snub.

Posted by: Kathy | 2004-11-25 5:10:42 PM

I think it connotes a dismissal of the role, contribution, and importance of Canadian Parliament.

After all, had Canadian Parliament been there for the U.S., President Bush would have gone to them and thanked them irrespective of how vocal the opposition was.

As it is...

Posted by: Greg in Dallas | 2004-11-25 5:36:20 PM

I agree with Greg, I doubt he's afraid of being heckled. He just doesn't consider it worth it.

And in any case I'm sure he's been briefed by his diplomats that Canada's politicians don't treat parliament seriously anymore either. They make important policy statements at party fundraisers, not in parliament.

Posted by: Kevin Jaeger | 2004-11-25 8:18:05 PM

With all the wing-nuts in Ottawa, that is the last place I'd wanna speak in. For the message President Bush will deliver, Halifax is the ideal spot. Hair on him!!!!!! There are so many positive things happening in Iraq and Afghanistan but our news media, especially the CBC, never talk about those things. Like the successful elections in Afghanistan and the yards that are being made to let the Iraq people do the same in the next few months. That is positive news even to the Parrish's and other left-wing pinkos in Canada.

Posted by: themaj | 2004-11-25 8:26:51 PM

In response to Justin's comment that Trudeau told Robinson off, and that it is being ignored because of Conservative ideology, I have one bit of information.

It was in 1987. Trudeau was retired and Mulroney was PM. How the heck could Trudeau tell off Robinson?

As usual, anti-Conservative ideology doesn't fit with reality, so they make up a story. And This Hour has 22-Minutes is definitely anti-American (ever seen Talking to Americans?), and I would say the CBC in general is anti-Western.

Posted by: Lonni | 2004-11-25 9:26:41 PM

Of course, anybody who criticizes Bush's policies is obviously STOOPID. Alan Greenspan is clearly an idiot. People shouldn't worry that the Bush Administration have adopted a deeply flawed mercantalist position regarding the devaluation of the Greenback.


BTW - a special thank you to the Western Standard who several months ago started advertising GOLD for sale in their banner ads. It got me and my husband thinking about gold as a hedge.

As of yesterday's international market quote on gold, $453.00 closing bid, our company has made over $1000 in having invested profits of this year for our firm in purchase of gold awhile back.

And so long as the US dollar continues it's freefall we expect to make even more. Go Bush Go!

Posted by: MWW | 2004-11-26 3:55:46 AM

Justin "anti-Americanism" is a kind of brain fever that systematically prevents its victim from saying ANYTHING kind about our neighbours to the south. Those afflicted attempt to pass of juvenile sarcasm as rational criticism.

Many, I suspect, have had very shitty relationships with their fathers, while others, like Mary Walsh, are simply flat-chested!

Posted by: John Palubiski | 2004-11-26 7:33:49 AM

Didn't a Conservative/Alliance/Reform MP heckle, or threaten to heckle Nelson Mandela? Whether or not a man is/was a communist and a terrorist, if you're an MP I think that you are obliged to show some respect for the institution, and save your denunciation for the media scrum afterwards. I don't need noisy jackasses "representing" me in Ottawa ... I have enough of those in Toronto.

Posted by: Justzumgai | 2004-11-26 11:18:06 AM

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