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Canadians and Putin: Craven and Courageous

Tuesday, 18 February, 2014

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, visited Team Canada House at the Olympic Park in Sochi at the weekend and was “treated like a rock star”, writes Sharon Terlep in the Wall Street Journal. Her report is graced with a photo of Putin being embraced in a bear hug by the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Marcel Aubut.

That’s the craven Canadian bit. For Canadian courage, here’s Cathal Kelly, sports columnist with the Toronto Star newspaper. Snippet:

When Putin showed up at Canada House on Friday, it was a frenzy. He stood up on a small stage, modeling his own wax statue. The Canadians on hand treated him like Jesus returned.

For one terrible moment, it seemed as if COC boss Marcel Aubut might embrace the tyrant.

“I want to tell you how much we appreciate what Russia is offering…. great Games. Probably the best ever,” Aubut gushes.

Wait. What?

It is one thing to be polite. It is another to pawing the guy who has his foreign enemies radioactively poisoned.

Those on hand, their voices peaking like groupies, rushed forward for selfies. Putin’s expression does not change. He is not after love. He wants tribute. Canada is happy to provide.

Kelly’s report is titled “Canada’s swooning over Putin the tyrant all too common sight at these Games” and what makes it particularly readable is the way in which the writer places the global and the local in context. Seeing Putin in action has helped Kelly better understand the controversial, aberrant Toronto Mayor Rob Ford but, says Kelly: “Where Ford is feckless, Putin is purposeful. Where Ford is bumptious, Putin is regal. And where Ford is kind of a knob, Putin is full-on evil… Even though the average Canadian here has no idea what Putin is really about, they instinctively sense it — the combination of power and malice.”

Marcel Aubut is the craven Canadian who embraced evil. Cathal Kelly is the courageous Canadian who named it.

Putin


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