U.S. frets over bad image on Canadian TV: WikiLeaks

Wed Dec 1, 2010 7:00pm EST
 

OTTAWA (Reuters) - American diplomats in Ottawa fretted about the relentlessly negative image of the United States on television shows in Canada, according to secret cables released by WikiLeaks.

The cables -- made public by the National Post newspaper on Wednesday -- also showed U.S. officials felt Canadians had "an almost inherent inferiority complex" with respect to their powerful neighbor and most important trading partner.

One message in January 2008 showed diplomats were particularly frustrated by shows on public broadcaster Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

"The level of anti-American melodrama has been given a huge boost ... as a number of programs offer Canadian viewers their fill of nefarious American officials carrying out equally nefarious deeds in Canada, while Canadian officials either oppose them or fail trying," a diplomat noted.

The cable complained that viewers were variously treated to the sight of Americans assassinating a Canadian prime minister, trying to steal Canadian water, being ordered to launch bombing raids in Canada, and persuading Canadians to vote in favor of being taken over by the United States.

The shows were "an indication of the kind of insidious negative popular stereotyping we are up against in Canada", the diplomat added.

Although relations between the two nations are generally excellent, Canadians pride themselves on their independence and on being different from Americans.

In early 2008 the U.S. president was George W. Bush, widely unpopular in Canada for his decision to invade Iraq.

Another cable noted that here had been virtually no talk about bilateral relations in the Canadian federal election campaign of September and October 2008.

"This likely reflects an almost inherent inferiority complex of Canadians vis-a-vis their neighbor," another diplomat wrote.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)