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Old October 27th, 2006, 08:38 PM  
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Default GOP add attacks Canada

TORONTO, Oct. 26 — A Republican television commercial that has drawn criticism in the United States has also become a political and diplomatic issue in Canada

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“Canada can take care of North Korea. They’re not busy,” says an actor in the campaign advertisement, against Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., a Democratic candidate for the Senate in Tennessee.

Whatever its intent, the aside is seen in Canada as a suggestion that the country is a free rider when it comes to global security. While Canada did not participate in the invasion of Iraq, it has posted a large portion of its army in Afghanistan as part of NATO forces since 2002. On Wednesday, Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, spoke with an official at the White House, whom the Canadian government declined to name, to officially express Canada’s displeasure.

Bernard Etzinger, a spokesman for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, would not discuss the conversation beyond saying, “They took the call and listened to what we had to say.”

The advertisement, financed by the Republican National Committee, was pulled from the air on Wednesday after Democrats and the N.A.A.C.P. criticized some of its content as an attack based on racial stereotypes and fears.

In the advertisement, actors in staged interviews speak sarcastically about Mr. Ford and his positions. They include a white actress who says that she met Mr. Ford, who is black, at a “Playboy party.” She looks into the camera and says, with a wink, “Harold, call me.”

The perceived slight against Canada comes at an awkward time for its minority Conservative government. The recent deaths of Canadian soldiers have prompted criticism of the government’s decision in September to increase its deployment by 500 troops to 2,500.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who increased military spending this year, has made developing close relations with the Bush administration a priority.

In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Omar Alghabra, a Liberal member from suburban Toronto, cited the Republican advertisement and asked, “Is this what Canadians should be expecting as the outcome of cozying up to Mr. Bush by the prime minister and his Conservatives?”

David Wilkins, the United States ambassador to Canada, said Thursday at a meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, that the ad “certainly doesn’t represent the view of the president, or the view of the administration, or the view of most Americans,” reported The Canadian Press, a news agency.

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