Three months ago, a senior aide to Prime Minister Jean Chretien told reporters at a NATO summit that she regarded President George W. Bush as a "moron." After some days of hemming and hawing, Chretien ultimately accepted her resignation--and quite right.
Now another visible public official--Mississauga MP Carolyn Parrish--has referred to the American people as "bastards." She delivered a graceless semi-apology on Thursday. "My comments," she said, "do not reflect my personal opinion of the American people"--leading James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal to wonder: "If the statement doesn't reflect her 'personal opinion,' what's she saying? That it's a statement of fact?"
Parrish's comments are of course appalling. But that's no surprise: She has been saying appalling things for a long, long time. This past June, for example, she joined a delegation of nine MPs on a trip to the West Bank and Gaza paid for by Palestine House, an anti-Israel organization. On her return, she told the sponsors of the trip: "You got your money's worth. You have nine members of Parliament who've come back completely and totally convinced that what's going on over there is a crime against humanity."
The "crime against humanity" to which Parrish was referring was the Israeli raid on Jenin--a battle that Palestinians claimed left hundreds dead. When Stewart Bell helped prove the falsehood of those claims for this newspaper, Carolyn Parrish assailed him for accepting a press award from B'nai B'rith. The prize, she argued, tainted his objectivity. Her own junketing, she wishes us to believe, affected her judgment not at all.
In September, Parrish gave an interview to the English-language edition of the Egyptian government-controlled newspaper Al Ahram, in which she complained that North Americans worried too much about accusations of anti-Semitism.
Only last month, she said she would quit the Liberal party if Canada supported U.S. military operations against Saddam Hussein in the absence of a Security Council resolution. Yet when Canada supported U.S. military action against Slobodan Milosevic without a Security Council resolution in 1999, Parrish neither objected nor resigned.
OK--so now we know Parrish for what she is. But here's one thing more that she also is: one of the most vocal supporters of Paul Martin's leadership campaign in the Liberal caucus. And if it was fair to demand to know what Jean Chretien thought of his aide's single, solitary, insulting remark, is not equally fair to ask what Paul Martin thinks of his strong supporter's long record of repeated anti-American and anti-Israeli words and actions?
In all probability, Mr. Martin will be the next prime minister of Canada. Yet his opinions on the biggest political issues of the day remain closely guarded secrets.
Would a Martin government support the U.S. war on terrorism? Would it contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq? Would it crack down on terrorist fundraising and recruitment inside Canada? Would it lean toward the United States or the French and Germans?
Is a vote for Mr. Martin a vote for repairing the damage that Jean Chretien has done to the U.S.-Canadian relationship? Or for worsening it? For stiffening Canada's squishy-soft foreign policy? Or mushing it up some more? For rebuilding the military? Or continuing to starve the Forces?
Chretien's foreign minister, Bill Graham, takes pride in "sitting on the fence." Where will Mr. Martin's foreign minister sit?
Paul Martin has himself said not a word on any of these subjects for the public record. On the basis of his record as a deficit-fighting finance minister, many Canadians assume that Mr. Martin must lean toward the right-hand side of the political spectrum--that he must be more staunch on defence and more pro-American than Jean Chretien. But why? The Hill Times' head count of Liberal MPs shows that Martin has won the support of some of the most noisily anti-American and anti-Israeli politicians in Canadian public life: not only Carolyn Parrish, but also Carolyn Bennett of St. Paul's in Toronto and Colleen Beaumier of Brampton West.
(In August, 2000, Bennett urged Canadians in search of health care solutions "to look south: not the south of George W. Bush, but farther south, to Cuba, which long ago decided that it wouldn't be able to afford to have its citizens get sick and so would focus on keeping them well." Colleen Beaumier joined Parrish on her June, 2002, trip to the West Bank and afterward described Jenin as a "mini Ground Zero"--simultaneously endorsing the lie about Jenin while belittling the truth about 9/11.)
The natural question is: What do these anti-American MPs know that the rest of Canada doesn't know? Colleen Beaumier describes Martin as a "real Liberal"--praise that sounds rather sinister coming from such a source. Has Martin somehow fooled her? Has he fooled them all? Or is he possibly fooling everybody else?
Isn't it alarming that you don't know the answers to those questions? Isn't it even more alarming that Paul Martin feels no duty to provide those answers?
David Frum is a resident fellow at AEI.