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  July 12, 2001



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Ventura tackles trade, politics at Toronto IT show
By DICK CHAPMAN -- Toronto Sun

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura may be long since done with wrestling but he's certainly still an entertainer.

Ventura, the U.S. Navy Seal-cum-pro wrestler-cum-actor-cum-talk radio host-cum-politician, enthralled an adoring audience yesterday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Ventura, who turns 50 on Sunday, charmed delegates to the COMDEX Canada 2001 IT conference with a colourful, self-deprecating speech promoting international trade and investment and tourism in Minnesota.

He may have evolved into a no-nonsense, populist politician, but there's still plenty of showman in Ventura.

"I'm very computer illiterate," he said, drawing titters. The hi-tech crowd erupted into gales of laughter when Ventura added: "I did make it to Windows Solitaire, though."

NO. 1 TRADING PARTNER

Calling Canada Minnesota's No. 1 trading partner -- $2.4 billion in exports last year and more to Ontario than Japan -- Ventura praised Ontario Premier Mike Harris for a recent trade mission to China, saying it's "the golden opportunity of the 21st century," and vowed to follow.

But later, asked his preference for the 2008 Summer Games -- Beijing or Toronto -- Ventura replied: "I just haven't thought about it ... I only run a state of 4.5 million people. That's a question for federal (U.S.) officials."

So, did he agree with the Bush administration that giving the 2008 Games to China would bring about human rights improvements there because of worldwide publicity?

"I don't have an opinion," he said. "I only heard about it two minutes ago."

But he did say in his speech the Dalai Lama had advised Ventura to travel to China.

"He said, 'You won't change China until you have a relationship with them,' " recalled Ventura. "I did ask him the most important question, though: Had he seen Caddyshack? I told him he's (portrayed) in the film."

The governor told Michael Brierly, 29, a purchase officer for Computers Made to Measure in Sudbury, that Minneapolis-St. Paul has three vacant jobs for every unemployed person.

Ventura seemed to indicate Ontario's skilled workers would be welcome in Minnesota. But later, asked about green cards, he snapped: "I don't control the border. I don't control green cards. Ask me a question I have something to do with."

He also incorrectly called Toronto "Silicon Valley North," and when a reporter asked if he meant Ottawa, Ventura retorted: "Well, this conference is here, isn't it?

"If it's Ottawa, why aren't we having this conference there?"

More on Jesse Ventura




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