Maple Leaf CEO's Iran plane crash comments unprecedented, experts say

Angry comments about the Iran plane crash from the CEO of Maple Leaf Foods Inc. are unprecedented, experts say.

Michael McCain tweeted from the company’s Twitter account Sunday night, saying he’s “very angry” after a colleague lost his wife and child who were on a plane that an Iranian missile accidentally shot down, killing everyone on board.

He says the 63 Canadians on board are “collateral damage” from the behaviour of “a narcissist in Washington.”

The company declined an interview request and says McCain “felt the tragedy warranted his response.”

Dimitry Anastakis, a professor at The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, says he’s never heard a Canadian business leader make such an unprovoked, definitive statement on an international-relations issue.

He says there are multiple levels of risk when a business leader enters a political debate, including backlash from Canadian and American consumers, as well as possible retaliation from the U.S. government.

Robert Carter, an industry adviser with The StratonHunter Group, says he doubts any fallout from American customers will be lengthy.

Both men say it’s possible Canadians, who are mourning the national tragedy, may rally around the business for making these comments.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2020.

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The Canadian Press