The past two weeks have been a hard time to pay attention to the news of the World, the politics of our country, and how events and situations have brought them together to interact. The rise of tensions between the United States and Iran and the shooting down of UIA Flight 752 has raised a lot of emotions, feelings, sentiments and questions. I go into that a bit more with my colleagues in our last podcast from last week, which you can check out.
But as we move further way from the incident and we start to try to come to grips with all of this, we are starting to see more reactions from people and those affected. It was with that in mind that I saw this come out last evening, which quickly spread around social media like wildfire, and for good reason:
As someone who does work in crisis communications as a part of my job, there are things that you usually do or don’t do when dealing with a crisis. But when it comes to a situation like this, where emotions are raw and the pain is deeply personal, there is no handbook and no perfect way to do this. Michael McCain, CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, came out and made that statement above and it was something that I don’t think we’ve ever seen the likes of before in this country. Simply put, we haven’t seen someone from corporate Canada make such a comment in the past, nor using their corporate communications resources to do it.
But that fact is not the story here, nor what we should be paying attention to. Mr. McCain is experiencing what so many Canadians across the country are this week, dealing with the pain of having lost friends and loved ones. One of his colleagues lost both his wife and family and as empathetic people, we can all imagine how that is making him feel. We can all imagine how we would feel in that position. So I believe that we can understand the sentiments that brought his Tweets about and his words: “I am very angry, and time isn’t making me less angry.” Many Canadians are feeling exactly that and are trying to figure out how to deal with that and express themselves in this moment.
Now having such a strong statement coming from a business leader could, in most normally circumstances, have consequences for the company itself, but I am of the belief that is not as big a risk here. Yes this story has caught attention from media all over the World but there is nothing that Mr. McCain said there that many people haven’t already agreed upon when it comes to the risks that came with such a decision. If anyone decides to try to move a boycott against this company because Mr. McCain is expressing his pain and anger at seeing his colleague suffer through such a tragedy, well that says so much more about those people than it ever will about him.
There are times and places where just speaking plainly and wearing your emotions on your sleeves is the right thing, and I could count this as one of those. Some will try to take those four tweets to try to reinforce their political views or attack their political enemies, but those people will be completely missing the point as their heads continue to be buried in the sand. There is a time and place for the parsing of statements like this, but this is not the time and this is the exception to that maxim. Mr. McCain’s words were simply an expression of his personal pain and his empathy towards those who lost so much.
It’s not the specific words and terms used that matters, the adjectives attached to the statement or the subject the words are aimed at. Those were the words of someone trying to come to terms with something that has no logic to it and that makes no sense. Those were the words of how many people are feeling today. That is what matters here, and I hope that while Canadians appreciate what Mr. McCain had to say that they don’t get lost it them and lose the message. We are a people in mourning, trying to find out way through pain and make sense of it all, regardless of what strata in life you come from.