Harper hires Americans to help him "brand" Canada, presumably as a nation incapable of branding itself - Macleans.ca

Harper hires Americans to help him “brand” Canada, presumably as a nation incapable of branding itself

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Ever the generous neighbour, Stephen Harper is unveiling his own little U.S. stimulus package. Our Prime Minister has retained two prominent American consultants to help him get noticed in the United States.

What – the charismatic personality wasn’t doing the trick on its own?

Bottom line: there shall be no recession in the households of former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer and former Clinton mouthpiece Mike McCurry. How much are these guys getting paid to help our PM line up interviews in the U.S. media? Alas, the Harper government won’t say, citing the provisions of the We Didn’t Tell You How Much the Psychic Hairstylist Makes – You Think We’re Going to Tell You This?

But really, you can’t put a price on the PR value of having your Prime Minister go on U.S. cable news and repeatedly rub it in the faces of Americans that, compared to our own, their bankers are laughably inept and spazzy.

“Canada has a very good story to tell, and it won’t tell itself,” Kory Teneycke, Harper’s spokesman, told Canwest in an effort to explain the McCurry-Fleischer hires. At first I almost bought this line, but then it occurred to me that it was spoken by a spokesman deemed too incompetent by his own boss to be entrusted with the responsibility of giving Wolf Blitzer a buzz.

According to Teneycke, whose communications superpowers apparently peter out at the U.S. border, this is all part of a long-term government strategy to “brand” Canada in a positive light. Think of us as the Vitamin Water of the United Nations. Heck, maybe McCurry and Fleischer will help us come up with a catchy slogan that will really grab the attention of Americans – something like “Canada: We exist!” or “Canada: Our Prime Minister can’t get on Fox News without your help.”

I guess if there’s an upside, it’s that members of our own press gallery now understand what it takes to get a question answered by our Prime Minister – an American passport and Ari Fleischer’s cell number.

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