Announcing the 2010 McLoughlin Annual Awards

Welcome back!
This is the last post of the year and the time to announce the 2010 McLoughlin Annual Awards - to recognize truly extraordinary performance beyond the call of duty.
First to what's been going on in my world. I just survived the most challenging seminar of the year - to my son Liam's Grade 12 writing class. It turned out fine - at least Liam said "you didn't suck" so that's high praise in our family! We're all getting ready for Christmas - in which we aren't going anywhere and the greatest gift will be that we aren't programmed to do anything! What a concept! To wake up in the morning and the toughest question you face is, 'what do you feel like doing today?' I love it. For me, here's my personal list, that I call:
It Wouldn't Be Christmas Without....
1. Charlie Brown's Christmas.....the tradition, the tone, the droll sense of humor....it still stands up after all these years. Even our kids watch it.
2. It's a Wonderful Life...all these years later it still hits the mark for all the family.
3. Plum pudding and fruit cake....sorry I'm still a sucker for both of them.
4. Midnight Mass.... although we usually go to an earlier service. There is nothing as special as that.
5. Opening presents on Christmas morning. It brings back so many memories. Every family has different rituals. Ours is the same as when I was a kid. You got to open one present on Christmas Eve and couldn't open any of the others until everyone was down. Then you take turns. It still works for kids....it's called 'delayed gratification'. What a concept!
And Now....the 2010 McLoughlin Awards..... for Extraordinary Performance Beyond the Pale
1. The ' by the seat of your pants' award - for surviving two votes of confidence in the Italian Legislature in spite of pay-off scandals, underaged women, allegations of drugs and a divorce from hell goes to..... the one and only Silvio Berlusconi who appears to follow the adage of politics, "if you're going to be bad, be a complete disaster! So far, so good!
2. The 'getting hit from both sides ' award goes to.... Barack Obama...who is accused of both inflicting his own agenda on the American public at the same time as he is accused of too much compromise with Republicans. Maybe he'll figure out which one of those accusations he wants to plead guilty to?
3. The 'I know it's hard to believe but I'm more popular than ever' award goes to...Sarah Palin....who defies all conventional wisdom by quitting the governorship when the greatest criticism of her was that she has no experience. Who needed to be taken seriously but  chose to do a reality show! Whose malapropisms on her tweets go viral...but she survives it all. Will it get her to the top? No, but she could make it one of those races where you can't take your eyes off her just in case you miss the latest howler!
4. The 'leaking my ego all over the media' award goes to Wikileak's Julian Assange....whose name and face have dominated the news in recent weeks. Somehow he gives us the impression that it's what he's wanted all along.
5. The 'you don't have to love me, but I hope you really won't like my opponent' award goes to Stephen Harper, who, no matter what happens, seems to edge up in the polls against Michael Ignatieff's Liberals. Go figure!
6. The 'Gulf will clean itself' award goes to the one and only Tony Hayward. Unfortunately for BP, that story still isn't over as the Obama Administration has just launched a lawsuit against them.
7. The 'cry me a river' award goes to John Boehner who cries when he's happy, cries when he's sad and cries when he sticks it to the Obama Administration. And he never once streaks that orange make-up?!
8. The  'I may have missed my flight but I became a viral star instead ' award goes to the don't touch my junk traveler, John Tyner.
9. The 'best impression of a journalist' award goes to 'This Hour Has 22 Minutes' for its terrific take-off A Very Chantal Christmas.
10. The 'sticking it to left-wing pinkos riding bicycles' award is presented unanimously to Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry when he 'inaugurated' new Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Somewhere there's a bordello missing a curtain!

I want to wish each and every one of my loyal readers Merry Christmas!!!!

Until Next Year......


The Al Qaeda Pizza Guy was in our living room!

Welcome back!
I'm back from a week of golf in Naples Florida and rarin' to go. There's lots to discuss in the world of media, but here are a few morsels to chew on as we get ready for the Christmas season......

Harkat shows media GPS tracker device

The Al Qaeda Pizza Guy - soon to be a minor motion picture....

First of all, the matter of the ruling by Judge Simon Noel of the Federal Court yesterday in which he deemed that Mohammed Harkat was indeed "a member of bin Laden's network, has engaged in terrorism and remains a danger to Canadians." My little story in this matter is that Mr. Harkat was our pizza delivery guy a number of years ago. Perhaps this could be the opening  scene in a screenplay?

Pizza Delivery Scenario - Repeated Numerous Times

Chevy Chase as Barry
Johnny Depp as Harkat
 Starring in.....'Al Qaeda Pizza Guy' ..... coming to a multiplex near you!!!!
Int. Front Hall - McLoughlin Home - Night

The door bell rings.
Barry : "I'll get it!"
BARRY, 40ish, strikingly good-looking, peeks through the front window.
Barry: "Who ordered pizza?"
No child answers, as usual. He opens the door and is confronted by an amiable, very presentable MOHAMMED HARKAT, 40ish, putative Al Qaeda pizza man.
Barry fumbles in his pockets for cash. As usual, they are empty.
Barry: "How much? $21.50? Really? Sorry I'll have to go get it.  Okay, please step in."
Barry leaves to go upstairs and is gone for a minute or two.
He returns to find pizza man right inside the house, peeking into the living room down the hall.
Al Qaeda pizza man: "Nice house".
Barry: "Thank you. Here's $25.00. Keep the change."
Al Qaeda pizza man: "Thank you sir. See you again."
[Producer's note: This only becomes cause for suspicion years later when we learn through the media that Mr. Harkat's wife, Sophie, says he couldn't speak English, which explains some of his contradictions and um..explanations to security agents interviewing him.]

What if I told you that the same scenario was repeated regularly with our friends in the diplomatic community? It turns out they were from the highest levels of target countries, shall we say. Which meant, in the easiest way possible, he was able to have access to their living rooms too!!!

The real hero in this story is Mr. Harkat's wife Sophie who should be hired by a major public relations firm to provide the kind of strategies that she was able to put together to keep his plight in the news through rallies, posters, media stories and political support for his release.

British Columbia NDP Go Mad......Liberals Rejoice

The ' Grasp Defeat from the Jaws of Victory' Award goes to..... the NDP Party of British Columbia!

BC NDP's Carole James Steps Down
After years in the political wilderness facing the leaderless B.C. Liberal government who have crashed and burned on their imposition of the wildly unpopular HST tax were setting the stage for the next election. Facing a revolt by 13 caucus members frustrated by the tight control and the business-friendly policies of Leader Carole James, Carole fought back but eventually resigned her leadership. Carole is a solid centrist who knew what the NDP needed to regain the trust of British Columbians. Although certainly understandable, one can't help but think that if she had stayed the course, those unhappy campers would have nowhere to go and would have had to fish or cut bait.

The outcome will be a dual set of leadership races for the NDP and Liberals, resulting in a new leader for each, and quite possibly a resurrection opportunity for the Liberals. It kind of reminds me of the old Russian proverb: 'what's the difference between genius and stupidity? Genius has its limits."

'Top Judges Giving Up Silence to Embrace the People's Court'
An article in yesterday's Globe and Mail by Kirk Makin, in which I am quoted, explores the subject of the importance of appropriate engagement with the media by the judiciary. As someone who trains judges from time to time, it's worth taking a look at, in my view, if only to understand why judges should care about the media.

Saying Farewell and Thank you to Kate Murphy

For the past four years we, at McLoughlin Media, have been very fortunate to have had Kate Murphy as our Executive Assistant and media relations assistant. Her ability to multi-task and to handle almost everything that Laura and I have given her to do is legendary. Alas, talent like hers can not stay hidden long, and she has accepted an offer by the Department of National Defence to go to work for them in their strategic communications office. She has a terrific career path ahead of herself and the Government is fortunate to have her, as she has energy, brains and talent to burn. And, she is a terrific person to work with - a 'can-do' attitude and a sense of humor that makes it fun. Good luck and thank you Kate!

Welcoming Sarah Gardner

While we will miss Kate greatly, we are very proud and pleased to announce that Sarah Gardner, who has loads of political, media and corporate experience for her young age, will be taking over the position starting next week. Her contact email is sarah@mcloughlinmedia.com. So don't be shy about contacting her starting on Monday.

Until next time.....


Another year older and.....

Welcome back!
I write this from a beautiful town with a name that resonates around the world....Naples.....Florida, that is. Three friends of mine twisted my arm and invited me to our second annual golf week. Technically, that's a misnomer, as we had our first trip just this past April. So, in actuality this is the second semi-annual tour. While my golf game is a continuing challenge, it has proven to be just as much fun as the first one. This time, we are celebrating my birthday - which we did just this evening with a great dinner and, as usual, stories, lies and laughs that make friendships such a rich fabric to one's life.

All of us are parents and we got to talking about how one's life is a combination of such elements that combine hard work, luck and opportunities taken and missed. So I will share a few thoughts on the subject at the end of this posting, so if you want to click off before that, you can do so without missing some of the - shall we say - 'substantive' post.

An Election Looms in Canada
With the results of the recent by-elections in Canada in which the Conservatives won two out of the three (one they held and one they took from the Liberals), in combination with rising poll numbers for Stephen Harper's Tories, point to a Spring 2011 election. Why? Because politics and momentum are almost everything in politics. The public perception of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff are very weak, and can only improve over time - especially as he lays out a more solid policy framework - which helps to define him after allowing himself to be defined by the Conservatives in the early years.

There are a few stumbling blocks on the road to such an election in a minority government scenario. One of the major ones being the legislation that the government put in place to have fixed elections (something I have always felt was an artificial construct in a Parliamentary system that will often end up being more honoured in the breach - especially when a national Parliament is increasingly a minority situation. However, the easiest way to deal with it is to put in place a budget which would challenge the Opposition's ability to accept it. Given that the Liberals clearly don't relish an election anytime soon, such a Budget would have to be cleverly crafted to avoid looking too cute by half, or to violate the principle of the fixed election law.

One thing for all election hawks in the Conservative Party to keep in mind, however, is the volatility of the electorate. Given a strong message, and a campaign to match, it could be an even draw with the Liberals, opening up a number of post-election scenarios - as happened after the recent British election when the Conservatives joined up with the Liberal-Democrats to form government.

A Year Away From the Iowa Caucuses
The post-midterm elections positioning is underway as the Republicans and Democrats spar over everything from government debt to saving social security etc. etc. It's painfully clear that there is no 'common ground' and, while the public say they want bipartisanship, that message is absolutely not reaching the politicians in Washington.

So what does this mean for the coming 'pre-positioning' year in American politics? On the Republican side, Sarah Palin will obviously have to make up her mind - to give up the easy money, fame and television shows for the daily slog of running for President under a huge magnifying glass focused on her flaws and family. It may become almost inevitable. The momentum is clearly building and she has to realize that the bubble she is in won't last forever. So the betting is that she may well go for it. Her latest comments - "we gotta stand with our North Korean allies" notwithstanding.

Mitt Romney is working hard to build his brand and base in order to sustain a strong race. The first thing people think of when his name comes up, unfortunately, is his Mormon religion. One would hope that such a slight against a candidate belongs to yesterday (shades of JFK). The fact that he has already run a national campaign and been a successful governor in a liberal state should go some way to having offset that stigma. His real challenge now is to try to attract wind from Tea Party sails without being swamped overboard by them. The thing about Romney is that no matter what he tries to do, he just can't seem to connect with voters in an emotional way with his core values emerging. So, his appeal is limited by definition but he will make a strong campaign for the Republican nomination.

President Obama has a huge challenge in this year - facing a Republican controlled Congress - and a still weak economic recovery. He has to be hoping for two things - a Sarah Palin Republican nominee and, for safe measure, a third party candidate, such as Michael Bloomberg, to divide the vote. [Ross Perot's candidacy in 1992 ensured a Bill Clinton victory over George Bush]. Notice when the President was asked by Barbara Walters what he thought of Sarah Palin he said that he didn't spend any time thinking about her.  A safe answer and may even be true.....for now. But one can tell he clearly relishes the prospect.

Some Birthday Musings [The part that you can feel free to skip]
It's only a day on the calendar, but as one goes along in life, a birthday is a time to reflect on where one has gone - hopefully with some insights for our kids and anyone else who really cares. So here goes:
1. Work harder than anyone else.
2. Recognize opportunities when they come along. If they don't, create your own.
3. Although you can't always tell where certain paths lead, have faith that somewhere down the road those paths will intersect and give you a unique journey. [I have always been a great believer in serendipity - something I inherit from my father.]
4. Be thankful for every day you have. Each day really is a gift; so try not to waste even one.
5. Keep in a learning mode. It keeps your brain young and your life interesting.
6. Figure out what you love to do and try to construct a career that enables you to get paid for what you love.
7. Be good to people on the way up. You will absolutely meet them on the way down - or when they're on the way up.
8. Every time you're tempted to say something negative about somebody, bite your tongue. You won't regret it.
9. Remember that we're all more than the sum of our parts - physically, mentally and emotionally. We are infused with a spirit - we just need to search for it and nurture it. That spirit will help you overcome almost anything that life throws in your way.
10. Stay humble. It may come in very handy someday.
11. Find a kindred spirit in life to enjoy the journey. [I have been so blessed in that regard.]
12. Finally, if you're going to have musings, always have an even dozen. It has such symmetry.

Until next time......