In an uncharacteristically blunt Twitter thread, Maple Leaf Foods CEO Michael McCain criticized the U.S. for stoking tensions with Iran—a move McCain believes led to last week’s devastating Ukrainian airliner crash that killed 176 people, including his colleague’s family members.
“A narcissist in Washington tears world accomplishments apart; destabilizes region,” McCain tweeted, in reference to the U.S. government’s assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. “The collateral damage of this irresponsible, dangerous, ill-conceived behavior? 63 Canadians needlessly lost their lives in the crossfire, including the family of one of my MLF colleagues.”
Reports originally noted 63 Canadians died in the crash, but the government has since updated the number to 57.
According to McCain’s thread, which he tweeted via Maple Leaf Foods’ official Twitter account, McCain’s colleague lost his wife and 11-year-old son to the plane crash. “We are mourning and I am livid,” McCain said.
Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 crashed mere minutes after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on the morning of January 8. It was en route to Kyiv, Ukraine. None of the passengers—most of whom had Canada listed as their final destination—survived.
On Friday, Iran admitted it shot the plane down, claiming the event was unintentional. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent consular officials to Tehran on Saturday to investigate the situation and has said Canada “will not rest” until it has answers.
McCain’s thread had been shared nearly 4,000 times by 9 a.m. EST on Monday, with many expressing surprise that a brand would take such an outspoken stance. Maple Leaf Foods is one of Canada’s largest food companies. The estate of McCain’s father, Wallace McCain, was worth $4.5 billion in 2018, according to Maclean’s.
“In the U.S., it's kinda like ordinary commentary. But by Canadian standards, he is absolutely going to town and blaming the U.S. president,” tweeted Josh Wingrove, a White House correspondent with Bloomberg News.
Early Monday morning the hashtag #BoycottMapleLeafFoods started trending, with some Twitter users criticizing the CEO’s thread for being too sympathetic to Iran.
“They stand with Iran who since 2014 have executed 2,500 people-including LGBTQ, women’s rights defenders, journalists,” said one Twitter user, even though McCain explicitly refers to Iran as a “dangerous state” in his thread.
People across Canada have gathered to mourn the losses of those who were aboard the plane. More than 2,000 people, including Trudeau, attended a memorial in Edmonton commemorating victims and their families over the weekend.
“While no words can ease the pain, the grief, the outrage, it is my sincere hope that you can find some comfort in knowing that all Canadians stand with you. That is what makes us strong,” Trudeau said in his speech.
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