Canada's Prime Minister Denies Blaming US For 9/11 Attacks

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:12 PM EDT

( - Canada's liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien Friday denied that he had singled out the United States for responsibility for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. His office said his remarks were taken out of context.

During an interview with CBC television that was aired on Wednesday as part of a Sept. 11 documentary, Chretien said the perceived greed of the Western world helped plant the seeds for the horrific attack.

"I do think the Western world is getting too rich in relation to the poor world," said Chretien.

"You know you cannot exercise your powers to the point of humiliation for the others. That is what the Western world, not only the Americans, has to realize. I do think that the Western world is getting too rich in relation to the poor and this is silly. We're looked upon as being arrogant, self-satisfied, greedy and with no limits," he added.

"The 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize it even more," Chretien said.

Chretien's office released a full transcript of his remarks, including a portion that was not broadcast. The statement said it would be a "gross misconstruction of his remarks" to suggest the prime minister was blaming the United States for the 9/11 attacks.

"Indeed, the forceful action Canada has taken, shoulder to shoulder with the United States, to track down and bring to justice those behind the attacks is unequivocal proof of the views of the prime minister, the government and the people of Canada as to who is responsible for Sept. 11," the statement concluded.

But Chretien's remarks have nevertheless caused a firestorm in Canada.

Radio Canada reported Friday that Stephen Harper, leader of the official federal opposition party, the Canadian Alliance, was "outraged" by Chretien's remarks and said he appears to be "blaming the victims of the attacks for their own unhappy fate."

Joe Clark, leader of the Conservative Party, defended the prime minister, saying Chretien's remarks were "misinterpreted." But Clark also called Chretien a hypocrite, for talking about the plight of the developing world while his government "chops" foreign aid

Radio Canada reported that many Canadians who telephoned radio talk shows across the country agreed with the prime minister's remarks while many others were outraged.

Last week, Chretien told President George W. Bush that Canada would not support an attack on Iraq without a full United Nations mandate.

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