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One smooth operator who's crazy like a Fox Add to ...

During a four-year stint as a lobbyist for the ethanol and biodiesel industry, he managed (despite his own free-market views) to extract $2-billion in incentives for the sector - an amount on the scale of military procurement. Before his term at the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association was up in 2007, he had used his media savvy to parlay an Ottawa controversy over its mascot - the cheekily named Corncob Bob - into international satirical coverage on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Former Harper aide Ian Brodie said Mr. Teneycke's campaign was among the best lobbying efforts he's ever seen. A Conservative cabinet minister, who requested anonymity, said he was personally opposed to ethanol subsidies but was amazed how Mr. Teneycke " took a boring, dormant issue and sexed it up."

In 2008, Mr. Teneycke also played an integral role in using mailouts and web ads to deliver the Conservative attack on then-Liberal leader Stéphane Dion's Green Plan and its proposed carbon tax - helping sink the idea before it got off the ground.

"He understood exactly what the stakes were and he drove a huge organizational effort to make sure there was not a single mailbox or op-ed page untouched by our side of the argument anywhere in the country," Mr. Brodie said.

The Tory cabinet minister noted that Mr. Teneycke has also proved that he knows "how to operate a stiletto" if political bosses requested it. During his one year as director of communications for the Prime Minister's Office, he was praised for bringing more openness to the post but didn't shy away from taking complaints about media coverage all the way to senior editors in the industry.


Yet Mr. Teneycke rejects the suggestion that Sun TV is designed to further Conservative fortunes. Being a house organ for the Tories would not make commercial sense, he said. He promised there'd be a clear line between editorializing on the station's talk shows and news gathering by its journalists - although, he added, reported stories would be more "populist in orientation."

The idea of a broadcast offering that drew on the Sun Media paper and web machine isn't entirely new, and when Mr. Teneycke pitched Quebecor chief Pierre Péladeau on the idea, he said, the tycoon was intrigued enough to give him a contract in 2009 to build the business case.

He said Quebecor has been successful in bringing its Quebec media holdings - from broadcast to print to Internet - together in a convergence model and wants to repeat this success in English Canada, where it's still mainly a newspaper company.

While some question whether there's a large enough viewer base for such a network, Mr. Teneycke argued that Canadians, conservative or not, are keen to watch more lively debate hosted by more colourful personalities. (He cited a 2008 Pew Centre survey that shows 39 per cent of Fox News viewers identified themselves as at least leaning Democrat.)

"Whether you love it or hate it, whether you think we're on the right track or the wrong track, I only care if you are watching."

On the other hand, if you want Fox in Canada, why not just let the U.S. network move in here? Mr. Teneycke said he'd welcome deregulation that would allow more foreign investment in Canadian broadcasting and other sectors - and predicted it will happen over time. He declined to comment on whether Quebecor hopes that Ottawa will lift investment restrictions so it can tap foreign investors for Sun TV capital.

It's clear, however, that Mr. Teneycke hopes there'll be spin-off benefits for the right in Canada.

In March, only months before announcing Sun TV, Mr. Teneycke told a panel on the state of conservative movement that a key challenge for right-leaning Canadians was securing a bigger presence on TV, a medium he called a "wasteland" for them.

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