Canadian leader complains of honours list snub

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The Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, has launched a personal assault on the Queen's birthday honours system by complaining to Tony Blair that he was not consulted when two British-Canadian citizens were included in the list published last weekend.

In what is fast becoming a diplomatic spat, Mr Chretien asked that Britain desist from conferring any titles such as "sir" and "lord" on Canadian citizens. He also telephoned Mr Blair to voice his anger and ordered a diplomatic note be sent to the Foreign Office.

The row stems from a failed attempt two years ago to give a peerage to Conrad Black, the Canadian-born proprietor of The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers. Mr Chretien intervened, saying it violated Canadian laws. Mr Black tried to sue Mr Chretien, but was prevented from doing so by the courts.

This time, titles were conferred on the hi-tech billionaire Terence Matthews, who was born in Wales but made his fortune in Canada, and George Bain, the Canadian-born head of Queen's University in Belfast. Mr Chretien saidtitles were "not compatible with the ideas of democracy as they have developed in Canada".