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Canada Caught in the CNN Crossfire
Published on Tuesday, November 26, 2002 by the Toronto Star
Canada Caught in the CNN Crossfire
Canada survives U.S. pundit ambush
by Antonia Zerbisias
 

"It's big. It's cold. Is it a threat?"

So says CNN. As if Canada is a terrible menace to the U.S.

But only intellectually.

It seems that some American right-wing pundits and neo-con artists have their boxers in knots over what amounts to the firing of a single yellow snowball over the border.

That would be — what else? — last week's off-the-record remark by Françoise Ducros, communications director to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, about U.S. President George W. Bush being a "moron."

Frankly, most Canadians, and quite a few Americans, would not see that as being all that debatable but still, last night, on CNN's Crossfire, they faced off on the subject.

Sandwiched between debates on Saudi terrorism ties and cockfighting, Canada was bashed for being a "remarkably undemocratic country" where members of Parliament can't vote freely and where citizens think Americans brought Sept. 11 on themselves.

From the left, as Crossfire puts it, was James Carville, the Democratic political strategist.Riding side-saddle was Ken Rockburn of the Canadian political affairs channel CPAC.

From the right, syndicated columnist Bob Novak. His deputy dawg was Jonah Goldberg, son of Lucianne Goldberg, who rose to punditry prominence thanks to mommy's exposure of the Linda Tripp-Monica Lewinsky tapes.

Don't get me wrong:I have nothing against snot-nosed neo-con snots as a rule.

But Goldberg, who penned that infamous "Wimps!" cover story about Canada this month in National Review, is the guy who defended the indefensible: Ann Coulter.

You know her.

She's the right-wing blonde with the voice that shatters TV screens.

Permit me a digression here.

Last year, in the wake of the horrible attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the downing of Flight 93, Coulter wrote a hateful column for National Review Online, which Goldberg edits.

This is the one in which she said, in reference to Muslims: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

"We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

When Coulter was dispatched from the National Review, Goldberg explained that it was due to her column's "sloppiness of expression and thought. Ann didn't fail as a person — as all her critics on the Left say — she failed as WRITER, which for us is almost as bad.

"We did not `fire' Ann for what she wrote."

Oh, so advocating hate against Muslims was not a problem?

Anyway, now you have the scene for last night's Crossfire.

Novak came out swinging, asking Rockburn if he "approved" of how Chrétien handled Ducros: "The Prime Minister is just so hard-headed he wouldn't even accept (her) resignation," he said.

Fair enough. Ducros called the president soft-headed.

Rockburn acquitted himself handily, replying that it was all "tempest in a teapot.

"This is nothing. Lighten up!" he added, to some audience approval.

Then it was Carville's turn to go at Goldberg: "How does the government in Canada get in there? Is it like Saudi Arabia, is it just kind of a royal family, is it like the United States where the Supreme Court appoints it or do they actually have elections up there?"

"It's a remarkably undemocratic country. Yeah it is," said Goldberg, whose president was selected by judges. "Actually the Senate is entirely appointed by the prime minister."

"Is Britain an undemocratic country?" Carville demanded. "How is Canada less democratic than Britain?"

"Well, look, if you want me to get my comparative government textbook out ...," pouted Goldberg. "They deregulated the House of Lords in Britain. In the Parliament, you can have free votes and you can have members of Parliament ... actually break with your party. In Canada, you cannot break with your party. It's a total party rule."

(Huh? "Deregulated" the House of Lords? Can he mean that move three years ago to strip hereditary peers of their ancient right to be lawmakers?)

"This guy writes an article in the National Review and already got his facts wrong," lamented Carville. "I can't believe this."

"The reason the moron story is significant is not because it's a gaffe, it's because it actually reflects what the Liberal Canadian government and what the liberal elites on the east coast of Canada believe about the United States," retorted Goldberg.

"Nonsense, nonsense, we love you like brothers," interjected Rockburn. "In fact, what (Ducros) said was Mormon, not moron."

Needless to say, that infamous CBC clip from the one-year-after Sept. 11 interview with Chrétien was unspooled ... again. Viewers heard the Prime Minister say: "We're looked upon as being arrogant, self-satisfied, greedy and with no limits. And the 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize it even more."

"What he's saying is that it was America's fault," complained Novak.

"That is spin of the worst kind and you know it," said Rockburn. "He said we should start paying attention to the divisions in the world if we want the world to be a better place. That's what he said, c'mon."

And then Goldberg charged in again, "There have been polls of Canadians. Eighty per cent of Canadians think the United States is partly to blame for Sept. 11."

"Who said that? Which poll? Name the poll! Let's hear the poll!" roared Rockburn.

Asserted Goldberg. "I think it was the Toronto Star."

Me thinks otherwise.

The solution to the mess, as proposed by Goldberg? "Why don't they have the three western provinces come into the United States?"

That would be war, buddy. None of that warm and sunny desert fighting stuff neither.

And somebody ought to remind you guys what happened the last time you invaded us.

Copyright 1996-2002. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited

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