by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) March 23, 2009
Defense Minister Peter MacKay on Monday blasted US broadcaster Fox News for mocking Canada's military for needing a rest after its Afghanistan combat mission ends in 2011, after nine years.
He was referring to Fox late-night host Greg Gutfeld's ridicule of a Canadian general's suggestion that his troops would need a year-long break in operations to regroup and restock equipment after Afghanistan.
The episode appeared on March 17 at 3:00 am, but a segment has since circulated online, provoking angry reactions in Canada.
"I think it is an uninformed view," MacKay told CTV. "It is crass. It is insensitive and it is in fact disgusting given the timing, when Canada is just receiving back four fallen heroes today."
"There should be an apology to the families in particular and to the Canadian Forces and to Canada generally, given the sacrifice and the commitment that we have demonstrated in Afghanistan," he added.
Some dismissed the segment as bad humor.
Others called for a boycott of the US network.
Gutfeld said in a statement his show "Red Eye" is satirical and topics are "addressed in a lighthearted, humorous and ridiculous manner."
"It was not my intent to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military, and for that I apologize," he said in an email to AFP.
On his show, Gutfeld criticized the Canadian military for planning to take a "synchronized break" after its Afghanistan withdrawal. "Meaning, the Canadian military wants to take a breather to do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white Capri pants," he said.
"Isn't this the perfect time to invade this ridiculous country? They have no army!" he quipped.
Panelist Doug Benson, a comedian, replied: "I didn't even know they were in the war. I thought that's where you go when you don't want to fight. Go chill in Canada."
The clip was later posted on YouTube with the caption "Fox News belittles and mocks the Canadian military," and a commentary: "These are the people who keep Americans up to date and misinformed."
In another posting, the video was labeled "How to lose friends and alienate countries."
Canada has more than 2,800 troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), routing insurgents.
US President Barack Obama when he visited Ottawa last month paid tribute to 108 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and praised the US ally for making Afghanistan its largest foreign aid recipient.
The death toll has since increased to 116 with eight more soldiers killed this month, including four in one of ISAF's bloodiest days on Thursday.
A senior diplomat and two aid workers were also killed.
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