The daily news cycle often contains items of interest. In 2020, this would include the Senate impeachment trial involving U.S. President Donald Trump, the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, the tragic death of National Basketball Association legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash, and the passing of inspirational London, Ont., social activist Mike Sloan.
Unfortunately, there are also bizarre news stories that should be disregarded by the general populace but instead briefly take on lives of their own.
Here’s one of them.
On Jan. 12, Michael McCain, CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, took the unusual step of sending off a four-part Twitter thread highly critical of Trump and U.S. politicians with respect to Iran.
He had apparently lost an “MLF colleague” due to the Flight 752 crash on Jan. 8 near Iran that killed 176 passengers, 57 of whom were Canadian. He placed blame at the feet of “U.S. government leaders unconstrained by checks/balances,” and accused them of having “concocted an ill-conceived plan to divert focus from political woes.”
The U.S. president was also viciously attacked. While acknowledging “Iran is a dangerous state,” McCain was furious that a supposed “narcissist in Washington tears world accomplishments apart; destabilizes region.” He even minimized the important assassination of Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani: “Taking out despicable military leader terrorist? There are a hundred like him, standing next in line.”
Maple Leaf Foods confirmed that McCain wrote all four tweets.
What made this rant even more bizarre was McCain didn’t post it under his own Twitter handle but rather that of Maple Leaf Foods. It’s fair to assume not every employee and shareholder would be in agreement with the CEO’s tirade against Trump and U.S. lawmakers. Nevertheless, by using a corporate Twitter handle as a personal social media soapbox, he effectively tied his company to his beliefs about a world leader.
That’s a major faux pas in any industry. Imagine a CEO of Disney, Apple or General Motors declaring a world leader like Trump to be a “narcissist” on a corporate social media account. Some consumers would be furious and start calling for the person’s head on a silver platter – or a boycott of the company.
Indeed, the hashtag #BoycottMapleLeafFoods gained steam on social media. (It was promptly followed by, predictably, #BuyMapleLeafFoods). While it’s too early to say what will happen to Maple Leaf Foods, some loyal consumers have already been lost – which could put the company’s financial status in jeopardy.
The livelihoods of Maple Leaf Foods employees and their families have also been unnecessarily placed at risk due to McCain’s outburst. That makes his comments outrageous and irresponsible.
There’s even more to this story.
McCain’s cousin, Nancy, is married to Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau. It’s an interesting link, especially considering how volatile the working relationship has been at times between Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Meanwhile, it was revealed by CTV News on Jan. 13, a mere 24 hours after McCain’s rant, that he had attempted to convince Canada’s Senate to reject implementing sanctions against Chinese officials.
“I am not making any judgment on the issue of human rights abuses in Hong Kong or in China,” he wrote in part last December. “But the simple fact is that Canada acting alone on this ensures two certain consequences: (i) Chinese human rights policies will not change and (ii) Chinese retaliation will be uniquely directed to Canada.”
Two Canadians have been held in a Chinese death camp for more than a year. The chair of Huawei Technologies, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018 at the request of U.S. authorities for allegedly violating trade sanctions against Iran and charges of “conspiracy to defraud multiple international institutions.”
And McCain wants to play politician at this difficult moment in Canada-China relations?
McCain doesn’t seem to care about his decision to go rogue against Trump and others. Maybe it’s time for Maple Leaf Foods employees and shareholders to turn the tables on the company’s CEO and give him a piece of their mind for his own outlandish behaviour.
That would certainly turn the daily news cycle on its head, again.
Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.