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Canada Fitting Choice for First Bush Speech

February 13, 2009

Back in 2007, President Bush described his future after the White House. "I'll give some speeches," he said, "just to replenish the ol' coffers." As the Dallas Morning News revealed Thursday, Bush will collect his first speaking fees on March 17 at an invitation-only event in Calgary, Alberta. As it turns out, it is altogether fitting that Bush travel to Canada for his first post-presidential address. After all, in March 2000 then-Governor Bush accepted the glowing endorsement - albeit fictitious - from the Canadian prime minister.
During the 2000 campaign, candidate Bush struggled mightily when it came to international affairs. In November 1999, Bush was stumped by a BBC's reporter's requests for him to name major world leaders (including, ironically, future terror war ally General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan). Just four months later in March 2000, Bush was delighted to learn from another reporter that he had received the ringing endorsement of Canadian Prime Minister Jean Poutine:

"Prime Minister Jean Poutine said he wouldn't endorse any candidate in this election, now he says he believes George W. Bush is the man to lead the free world into the 21st century."

Bush warmly accepted Poutine's backing:

"He understands I want to make sure our relationship with our most important neighbour to the north of us is strong and we'll work closely together."

There were a few problems, of course. The prime minister of Canada at the time was Jean Chretien, not Jean Poutine. "Poutine" is a popular regional food of Quebec, a dish of french fries, gravy and cheese curds. Bush, simply too ignorant regarding America's neighbor to the north, fell hook, line and sinker for a prank by This Hour Has 22 Minutes star Rick Mercer.
For its part, the Canadian company (TinePublic), which previously paid large fees for appearance by Bill Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, has described its St. Patrick's Day event as "a conversation with George W. Bush" in which the former president will "share his thoughts on his eight momentous years in the Oval Office." Hopefully, Bush's lessons learned will include the fact that American White House hopefuls shouldn't accept foreign endorsements - and the name of the Canadian prime minister.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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