Gretzky should stick to hockey.

One of the lessons learned in the communications business is that endorsements are an attention getter but need substance to last. Take the recent endorsement of an Ontario politician by hockey great Wayne Gretzky. Does it say to you that if the great Gretzky likes this guy, you should too? Or does it say Mr. Gretzky might know how to play hockey but he knows squat about Ontario politics?

For someone who spends most of his time living in California, Gretzky’s opinion on the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party hardly seems germane. Most of us were probably not even aware that he also likes Stephen Harper. And did we care?

One of the things we often sought out in seeking endorsements was if the person had some relationship with what we were talking about. For example in communicating about a specific disease you would seek out someone who had a close relative with the disease. Then you would try to strike the right balance of concern and hope. That kind of endorsement can be very effective.

Not that being a political wannabe is necessarily the same as a serious illness. Wayne Gretzky would not have a clue as to the probabilities of his endorsee ever becoming leader of the Ontario Conservatives. If this guy won the leadership in May of this year, we would have a hard time stopping laughing by September.

But we have an advantage in that we live in Barrie and this guy is the Member of Parliament for Barrie. He is one of the most useless MPs that we have ever had the bad luck to meet. We have seen how he handles the job from Barrie and we have seen him in (in)action in Ottawa. He already knows that he will not be returning to Ottawa from the new Barrie-Innisfil electoral district this fall. It is just not in the cards. Winning the Ontario provincial leadership is his last desperate effort.

What he has had going for him in Barrie was a perception that he did some good for the community by lending his office staff to various charitable activities. While the charities chosen could hardly refuse the aid, the facts are that they could have done better on their own. The Member of Parliament was tainting the effort.

And what was of special concern was the hockey night effort for Barrie’s Royal Victoria Hospital. The Conservative city council has gone along with this fiasco long enough. To allow the use of the city’s Molson Centre for an unaudited, fund-raising event should have been stopped at the beginning. That has become a major Conservative Party event and we should all be concerned that it is harming RVH’s regular fund-raising efforts.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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