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Jan 13, 2020

'Along for the ride': Experts assess McCain rant's impact on investors

Maple Leaf Foods' business could be negatively impacted over CEO tweets: Communications expert


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Maple Leafs Foods Inc. Chief Executive Officer Michael McCain put his personal politics ahead of his company’s corporate brand, according to two consultants.

“At first it was a head-scratch, followed by a ‘no,’” Wojtek Dabrowski, founder and managing partner at Provident Communications said of his reaction to a series of tweets sent Sunday by McCain from Maple Leaf’s official Twitter account in an interview with BNN Bloomberg on Monday.

“This was not a move that you would recommend to the CEO of a large multinational company that has operations in the United States,” he added. “Launching an ad hominem attack on the President of the United States – whether you agree or disagree with his politics – it’s just not the appropriate forum to use your company’s corporate Twitter handle.”

McCain sent four tweets from the @MapleLeafFoods account over the Ukraine-bound airliner shot down on Jan. 8 by an Iranian missile, killing at least 57 Canadians aboard the flight. McCain wrote that he is ‘very angry’ about the incident, which took the lives of a colleague’s family. McCain proceeded to call the crash “collateral damage,” for the States’ “dangerous,” and “ill-conceived” policies in the Middle East, and referred to President Donald Trump as a “narcissist,” without directly naming him.

Another consultant said that McCain should be worried about blowback from Trump’s supporters in Canada.

“I don’t think it’s his place to take a risk like that, because there are lots of Canadians who happen to agree with what Donald Trump says and does,” Mark Satov, founder of Satov Consultants told BNN Bloomberg in a separate interview on Monday.

He added that there’s no way for McCain to separate his personal feelings from the official stance of the company he heads.

“When you’re running a big business, it’ll help a little bit, but it doesn’t really matter,” Satov said of McCain’s “personal reflections” on Twitter. “If Tim Cook gets up and says what he thinks about Donald Trump’s latest move; Apple said that, whether you like it or not.”

Maple Leaf Foods CEO blasts U.S. over jet downing

The chief executive of Maple Leaf Foods has blasted U.S. President Donald Trump for what he calls “narcissistic and destabilizing actions” in the Middle East. In a series of tweets Sunday, Michael McCain says an employee of the company lost his wife and 11-year-old son in the crash of a passenger jet near Tehran last week. Rob Tetrault, senior vice president, portfolio manager and head of Tetrault Wealth Advisory Group, discusses.

Dabrowski added that there could be considerable secondary effects on Maple Leaf’s investors, as well as McCain’s other business connections.

“Whether he likes it or not, he just dragged every other shareholder along for the ride with this attack on the U.S. President,” he said.

“Michael McCain sits on RBC’s board of directors, [Maple Leaf] has other institutional shareholders,” he added. “Did they get a say in this? I’m pretty sure they didn’t, and his name and his personal reflections are now what we’re all talking about.”

Trump is yet to publicly respond to McCain’s comments, but Maple Leaf does have reason to watch the U.S. President’s reactions closely. Maple Leaf announced plans to build a US$310 million plant-based protein food processing facility in Shelbyville, Ind., last April that included an expected US$50 million in government funding.

Indiana voters widely supported Trump in the 2016 U.S. election, with all but four districts in the state backing his presidency.

Dabrowski said he does not see a positive outcome from the tweets, whether or not Trump decides to respond directly.

“The result could go any number of ways and none of them are particularly appealing,” he said. “Trump may or may not tweet about this, and this is a president who’s known for going after individual companies.”

“Food inspectors or other regulators could all of a sudden show up at these plants in the U.S. unannounced, you could have import red tape all of a sudden appear where there was none previously, and all of that is because you’ve taken very direct, very vocal, and, frankly, inflammatory aim at the president.”