By KATHLEEN HARRIS and ALTHIA RAJ, National Bureau
OTTAWA As Canadians mourn the loss of four more fallen soldiers in Afghanistan, a videotaped segment of an American TV talk show where panelists mock Canadian soldiers as slackers is making the rounds on the Internet.
The five-minute segment, which aired recently on Fox News late-night program Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld and later posted on youtube.com , features American panelists suggesting Canadian soldiers need time off for manicures and pedicures. The item aired after Gen. Andrew Leslie, the Canadian Forces Chief of Land Staff, told a Senate committee the tapped military would need a one-year break from operations after the difficult mission in Afghanistan winds down in 2011.
The Canadian military wants to take a breather to do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white capri pants, Gutfeld said with a sneer, adding:Isnt this the perfect time to invade this ridiculous country? They have no army.
Another panelist Doug Benson said he was unaware Canadian troops were on the ground in Afghanistan.
I didnt even know they were in the war. I thought thats where you go if you dont want to fight - you go chill in Canada, he said.
The segment has been posted online (
So far, more than 3,000 people have posted responses to the clip, which also makes fun of RCMP officers and their red uniforms. Fox News was not immediately available for comment.
Ottawa-based Conservative commentator Geoff Norquay called the segment insulting and beneath contempt.
In a week when we lost four more brave soldiers, Canada deserves better from this so-called news network, he said.I really wish I subscribed to Fox News so I could cancel it. I hope Canadians will boycott these ignorant children and their pathetic comments. They do not deserve to earn a penny from Canadians.
Steve Staples, director of the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute, called it a shameful display that a panel would laugh it up at the expense of families who have lost loved ones.
The dismissal of Canadian efforts in Afghanistan simply rubs salt in the wounds of Canadian families whose sons and daughters have been injured or killed in the war, he said.Its significant because Fox News, a major backer of the Bush administration, echoes the ignorance of many in the U.S. who have no idea about Canadas significant contribution to the war in Afghanistan.
Liberal MP and defence critic urged Canadians to write to Fox News to protest the panel and said Canada should raise the issue with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Whats a disgrace is that a lot of people are watching this and it is promoting stereotypes, he said.
Calling Canadas military the best little army in the world, retired Gen. Lewis MacKenzie lambasted the American panelists as distasteful and showing an appalling ignorance.
The bodies of the four fallen Canadian soldiers will be repatriated to Canada Monday, three days after their deaths in two separate bomb arracks in Afghanistan. Flag-draped caskets of Master Cpl. Scott Vernelli, 28, Cpl. Tyler Crooks, 24, Trooper Jack Bouthillier, 20, and Trooper Corey Joseph Hayes, 22, will arrive at CFB Trenton for a repatriation ceremony. The four deaths and eight more injuries occurred as the Canadians were working with U.S. troops to attack and disrupt Taliban command centres and supply lines.