On August 9, the Brazilian newspaper Fohla published a story about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apparently undiplomatic behavior during his visit to that country on a trade mission.
Canadians had a bit of fun on Twitter with the awkward machine translation from Google.
A Brazilian friend translated the story for me. It’s not as much fun this way, but the meaning is clearer:
Canadian Prime Minister goes to bathroom and comes out only when requirement met
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper put Brazilian diplomats in a difficult (embarrassing) position this Monday, demanding a change in the Brazilian diplomatic protocol and only accepted to come out for lunch after his request had been accepted.
The official speeches and toasts can take place before or after lunch. Dilma (Rouseff, Brazil’s president) prefers to have these after lunch, so this is what is being done during her presidency. But Harper was adamant that it should take place before lunch. He did not explain why.
Harper had already irked Dilma’s advisors and diplomats when he announced that he wished to speak to journalists at the Palacio do Planalto (the Presidential Palace) when the protocol is generally that foreign dignitaries talk to the press at the Itamaraty (the Foreign Affairs palace).
Since Brazilian diplomats denied his request to speak to the press at the Presidential palace, Harper was already in a bad mood when he arrived for lunch. He demanded the shift in protocol at the lunch event, and locked himself in the private bathroom of ministro Antonio Patriota (Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Minister) while he waited for a reply.
Brazilian diplomats were taken aback and did not know what to do – if they should listen to Dilma’s request or to Harper. Harper arrived at the room (in the Foreign Affairs ministry) where the lunch was taking place only when Brazilian diplomats confirmed that the speeches and toasts would take place before lunch, as he had demanded.
The Canadian Embassy in Brasilia does not confirm this version of events, but the Folha has confirmed with diplomats present at the event.