Canada

PMO hires 2 former White House staff to boost Canada's profile in U.S.

The federal government has hired two former White House spokesmen to help raise Canada's profile in the United States, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office confirmed Thursday.

The federal government has hired two former White House spokesmen to help raise Canada's profile in the United States, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office confirmed Thursday.

Mike McCurry — who served as press secretary to former U.S. president Bill Clinton — and Ari Fleischer, who held the same role under former president George W. Bush, have been hired to boost Canada's profile in the U.S., said Kory Teneycke, the communications director for the PMO.

The New York-based Fleischer, who exited the White House in 2003, helped organize interviews during Harper's March visit.

McCurry, who was White House press secretary from 1994 to1998, is a principal at Public Strategies Washington, a Washington-based communications firm.

While this isn't the first time Canada has hired lobbyists to launch an American media campaign, it's the first time the government is being open and transparent about it, Teneycke said, though he refused to discuss how much the lobbyists will be paid or how long they will be retained.

The aim is to promote the strength of Canada's banking system and stable supply of energy, he added.

The government believes the Washington lobbyists have contacts the Canadian Embassy doesn't have, and can pitch interviews directly to prominent broadcasters and journalists.

"I think it makes a lot of sense," Paul Cellucci, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada, told CBC News.

Michael Kergin, former Canadian ambassador to Washington, once told him Canada just could not get media coverage in the U.S, he said.

"Michael Kergin used to say he could take all of his clothes off in front of the Washington Monument and he wouldn't be able to get the national media down in Washington to pay attention to him. So I think that's the problem, and I think that's what the Prime Minister's Office is trying to address."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has travelled to the U.S. twice this year for interviews with major news organizations, including CNN, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.

Harper's first visit occurred in February while he was in New York to meet with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The second took place in March before G20 and NATO summits in Europe.

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