On a trade mission to Brazil this week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reportedly engaged in some undiplomatic behavior, according to a report in Brazilian newspaper Folha.
Though diplomats in both countries denied the report, the article started conversations across North and South America.
Folha reported that Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff asked official speeches and toasts to take place after a lunch with Harper Monday. Harper, however, reportedly had a different idea. He wanted the speeches to happen before lunch, and Folha says he locked himself in the private bathroom of the foreign affairs minister until he got his way.
Harper's officials denied the report, calling it “ridiculous tabloid journalism.”
A Brazilian Foreign Ministry official also denied the report.
“That's absolutely incorrect. It never happened,” Carlos de Abreu told the Canadian Press. “There was good chemistry between both delegations.”
De Abreu said Harper went to the bathroom for “regular reasons.”
Folha says diplomats present at the event confirmed the story.
Folha reports that Brazilian advisers eventually gave in to Harper’s demands, and Harper came to the lunch table.
It wasn’t the first tiff over protocol Harper got into that day, according to Folha.
Earlier, Harper reportedly said that he wished to speak to journalists at the Presidential Palace, even though foreign dignitaries normally talk to the media at the Foreign Affairs Palace.
Advisers denied Harper’s request.
This is not the first time Harper’s bathroom trips raised eyebrows. In April 2009, the Guardian published a story asking why Harper was missing in the G20 “family photograph.”
Harper, the paper wrote, had missed the picture because he had “chosen an inopportune moment for a bathroom break.”
On his return, he was greeted by a “jovial” President Obama, “who appeared to find the Canadian leader's absence quite amusing.”
(Via Canadian politics blog Centre block.)