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Canada The man behind Corn Cob Bob takes over PM's communications

Kory Teneycke is the genius behind Corn Cob Bob, the ethanol lobby's mascot with the corncob head atop a farmer's body. He bought Bob from a farmer's organization to use as a lobbying tool when he headed the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association.

And Corn Cob Bob delivered, attracting international headlines when he was banned from appearing at Ottawa's 2005 Canada Day celebrations at the request of Shell Canada, one of the event's main sponsors.

He even appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where he was shot in a mock execution and bled popcorn, garnering the sort of positive publicity that politicos can only dream of.

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Can Mr. Teneycke do for Stephen Harper what he did for Corn Cob Bob?

So far, expectations are high that he will.

This week, the 33-year-old took over as the Prime Minister's director of communications, replacing the often prickly Sandra Buckler.

"If he is allowed to do the job [not project Harper's own dislike and distrust of the media] he will do well," said a Liberal who knows him.

Mr. Teneycke (pronounced TEN-ike) would not be interviewed for this article.

"He believes his job is to promote the PM, MPs and their agenda, and not promote himself or the staff," said Phil von Finckenstein, a friend and former senior adviser to previous Opposition leaders Preston Manning and Stockwell Day.

Mr. Teneycke, most recently the party's research director, is part of the changing of the guard in the Prime Minister's Office.

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Guy Giorno, who took over as chief of staff last week from Ian Brodie, is said to have pushed for Mr. Teneycke. A veteran Conservative source said the Prime Minister was concerned about Mr. Teneycke's youth and Mr. Giorno went to bat for him. The two had worked together at Queen's Park during the tenure of Ontario Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris.

The son of a schoolteacher and a farmer from Young, Sask., a village about 100 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon, Mr. Teneycke had an avid interest in politics early on. He worked his way up the political ladder, serving in various positions with the Progressive Conservatives, the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance.

He is described by a friend as a small "c" Conservative with a libertarian bent. He is well connected in Tory circles, even by marriage. His wife, Kelly Sherwood, is the sister of Stacey Gairdner, who is the assistant to Laureen Harper. The couple have two small children.

And he is inventive. Not only was there Corn Cob Bob, but also the Reform Youth Swat Team, a group of young Reformers Mr. Teneycke brought together during the 1997 federal election, who campaigned - sometimes mischievously - on in-line skates.

More recently, Mr. Teneycke was behind the creation of the Conservatives' controversial "talking grease spot" ad campaign attacking Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's carbon-tax scheme.

There are expectations that the departures of Mr. Brodie and Ms. Buckler will radically change communications in the capital. The relationship between the national news media and the PMO deteriorated dramatically during Ms. Buckler's 28-month tenure.

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"Kory is first and foremost in everything he has done, he's been professional," Mr. von Finckenstein said. "If you really want to define what he will try to do is ... to professionalize the relationship with the national media. It doesn't mean all flowers and roses."

In fact, the Conservative source said Mr. Teneycke is as partisan as Ms. Buckler. The difference is that he is more charming.

"I think in the media world the expectations are high that change is in the air. I don't know that those are the same expectations of the Prime Minister."

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