Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Wayne Gretzky praised the efforts of U.S. President George W. Bush in the war against Iraq but shied away yesterday from criticizing Canada's decision to stay out of the conflict.

"All I can say is the President of the United States is a great leader, I happen to think he's a wonderful man and if he believes what he's doing is right I back him 100 per cent," said Gretzky, in Calgary for a news conference for Ronald McDonald Children's Charities.

"If the President decides to go to war he must know more than we know, or we hear about. He must have good reason to go and we have to back that."

Story continues below advertisement

Gretzky, who makes his home in the Los Angeles area, said his children are American citizens and he has a relative fighting in Iraq.

"I have a cousin who is in Iraq right now and is in the U.S. Marines. He was there in '91 and he's there now and it's a tough time for his family and it's a tough time for all of us.

Colonel Kenny Hopper has been in the Marines for more than 20 years, Gretzky said. Gretzky's aunt -- his father's sister -- married an American and raised three children in North Carolina.

"I talked to my aunt two nights ago and she's devastated, but she knows that her son believes in the cause," Gretzky said. "He's proud to be in the Marines and he's battling hard and our prayers are with him.

"A lot of people in the world don't have the answers but we've got to believe in the President of the United States and as I said, I happen to think he's a great leader. God bless him and I hope that everybody gets home safe."

Despite his support of Bush, Gretzky refused to criticize Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

"The Prime Minister of Canada is elected by the people and I'm sure the people of this country have a great deal of pride and feel he's a great leader," he said.

Story continues below advertisement

"If he feels at this point in time that he doesn't believe our troops should be there then we have to back his decision."

Gretzky, now part owner of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League, said he felt uncomfortable discussing the subject.

"I guess we get it more in the United States because actors and singers -- they all think they know politics. I'm tired of watching people who are not in politics give their opinions.

"Quite frankly that's what we have governments for and that's why we elect governments."

Gretzky also played down the booing of the U.S. anthem last week in Montreal in an NHL game against the Islanders.

"I think unfortunately what happened on Thursday night against New York was rectified immediately the following nights and people from coast to coast rallied around the American anthem," Gretzky said.

Story continues below advertisement

"I think the Canadian people have stepped forward and shown our relationship and friendship with the United States is pretty solid."

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies