Thursday, April 16, 2009

and the winners are .....

Good Day Readers:

When we see an article like the one below we're immediately left to wonder aren't there any Canadians who could do the job? Which two replacements would you pick from our group?

Clare L. Pieuk
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike McCurry, left, was a spokesman for the Clinton administration, while Ari Fleischer, right, was George W. Bush' press secretary. Both men have been hired by the PMO to bolster Canada's reputation in ...
PMO Hires Former White House Spokesmen To Plug Canada
Sheldon Alberts, Washington Correspondent
Canwest News Service
Published: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
WASHINGTON -- The Conservative government has hired two former White House communications strategists as part of a "sustained" effort to raise Canada's profile in the U.S. media - with Prime Minister Stephen Harper acting as salesman-in-chief, Canwest News Service has learned.
The Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday said it had retained Mike McCurry, a former press secretary to Bill Clinton, and Ari Fleischer, who held the same job during George W. Bush's first term, on temporary contracts to help Harper land interviews with leading American television networks and newspapers.
"Canada has a very good story to tell, and it won't tell itself," said Kory Teneycke, Mr. Harper's spokesman.
"The person best-positioned to tell that story in the [American] media is the prime minister."
Mr. Harper's bid for more face time before the American public is part of a long-term government strategy to "brand" Canada in a positive light, at a time when Ottawa is seeking close relations with the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.
It also comes amid persistent concerns in Canada's business community about protectionism in the U.S. Congress. Lawmakers are considering policy initiatives this year that could have a significant effect on Canada, including energy and climate-change legislation.
Ottawa's communications plan envisions the prime minister doing extensive and ongoing media outreach in the United States, with the interviews timed to coincide with international summits, and highlighting areas where Canada is "broadly supportive of U.S. leadership," Mr. Teneycke said.
Enter Messrs. Fleischer and McCurry.
Mr. Fleischer, based in New York, played a behind-the-scenes role in securing a string of recent interviews that Harper conducted with U.S. media outlets before the recent G20 and NATO summits in Europe.
In particular, he helped arrange Mr. Harper's print interviews with the Wall Street Journal and the U.S. editors of the Financial Times. He was also responsible for helping book Mr. Harper as a guest on Fox News Sunday, and on the CNN foreign affairs show hosted by Fareed Zakaria, Mr. Teneycke said.
In each interview, Mr. Harper touted the success of Canada's banking industry in withstanding the global financial crisis, while also promoting his support of Mr. Obama's push for G20 nations to impose tougher regulations.
Mr. McCurry, who was Clinton's press secretary during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, has been enlisted to help the prime minister's office with U.S. media before this weekend's Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Mr. McCurry is a partner at the District of Columbia-based firm, Public Strategies Washington.
The two men have been tapped because of their extensive contacts with prominent U.S. political and business reporters, Mr. Teneycke said.
He would not disclose the cost to taxpayers of hiring Messrs. Fleischer and McCurry, but said they will be "augmenting" the media-relations efforts the Prime Minister's Office already makes with foreign reporters.
Mr. Harper's concern about Canada's profile - or lack of it - in the United States media and public is nothing new for a Canadian prime minister. Canada has long struggled to get noticed in American news, usually making headlines only during times of conflict in the relationship.
Mr. Fleischer is perhaps best known to Canadians as Bush's press secretary during a low period in recent Canada-U.S. relations, before and just after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
After Prime Minister Jean Chretien's press secretary was overheard calling Mr. Bush a "moron" at a NATO summit in 2002, Mr. Fleischer dismissed the remark as being made by "somebody who obviously doesn't speak for the Canadian government."
Mr. Harper's office has come to the conclusion that Canada has often been too "passive" in promoting its long-standing ties to the U.S. Mr. Harper's aim is to build goodwill on a wide range of issues the government considers vital to the Canada-U.S. relationship - including bilateral trade, the auto industry and energy security - in the belief it will help Ottawa avoid major problems when tensions erupt due to specific conflicts, Mr. Teneycke said.
"It's an opportunity for the prime minister to blaze the trail and set overall narrative for Canada," he said. "If you get the macro-relationship right, small problems take care of themselves."
After his recent round of U.S. media interviews, Mr. Harper drew criticism from some Canadian media outlets and pundits, who have long complained of lack of access to the prime minister.
Mr. Teneycke said the Prime Minister's Office is expecting criticism for hiring American consultants to tout Harper and Canada in the U.S. media. But the practice is common among other foreign governments vying for attention, Mr. Teneycke contends.


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