MONTREAL, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The top media aide to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has resigned after being overheard referring to U.S. President George W. Bush as a "moron."
The Prime Minister's Office confirmed Wednesday that 40-year-old Francoise Ducros, who had served as Chretien's director of communications for almost four years, tendered her resignation late Tuesday.
Her departure followed the controversy that erupted after she was overheard alluding to Bush as a "moron" during a NATO conference in the Czech Republic late last week.
According to journalists who were present, she was referring to Bush's intense focus on the issue of Iraq at a meeting that was expected to be directed at NATO expansion.
Chretien initially refused to accept her resignation on Friday after an international imbroglio was sparked by the remark, and he has since stated that no formal apology to Bush is called for.
On Tuesday, Ducros met again with Chretien and informed him she didn't wish to continue in her role. He accepted her resignation and insisted that no official pressure was brought to bear.
"It is very apparent to me that the controversy will make it impossible for me to do my job. I would therefore like to leave my position as director of communications immediately," Ducros wrote in her letter of resignation that was made public Tuesday night.
She has never admitted actually using the word "moron" during a private conversation with a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. radio reporter in Prague, but the remark was apparently overheard by other journalists.
While referring to Bush, she was reported to have said, "What a moron."
Chretien told reporters: "I am sorry, she was very good, very competent and served me and the government extremely well. I wish her good luck."
Media reports on Wednesday suggest Ducros felt she didn't want the discord to distract the prime minister at a critical point in his agenda. This week, debate will begin on the Kyoto Protocol in the House of Commons and a major national health care report will be released.
Quoting an unidentified senior government official, the Globe and Mail newspaper said: "She pushed it, and she insisted on it. It's something he (Chretien) hates to do and something he did reluctantly."
The newspaper also purported that Ducros has made enemies in Canada's political and bureaucratic circles, describing her as "abrasive" with a "take-no-prisoners" style.
The CBC said Ducros was known for her combative, brusque style and was considered one of the most influential people in Ottawa.
Some government critics have been outspoken about Chretien's decision to not issue an official apology.
Canadian Alliance critic Jason Kenney was quoted by CTV television as angrily declaring that Chretien should have accepted Ducros' resignation when it was first offered.
He said that damage to U.S.-Canada relations had been done and Chretien must make clear to the Bush administration that Ducros' views aren't those of the government, and that an apology to Bush should be the first order of business.
Alliance party leader Stephen Harper called the incident "the insult heard around the world."
CTV reported that Jim Munson, Chretien's senior communications adviser and a former reporter for the network, will replace Ducros on an interim basis.