Need to know: How a Harper photo-op raises expectations

And why a Prime Minister’s Club isn’t anywhere on the horizon


Adrian Wyld/CP

“I’m not a grumpy politician anymore. I’m a statesman.” —former PM Brian Mulroney

Four prime ministers sat beside each other on an airplane to South Africa, and they even shared some laughs. The National Post‘s front page attributed the scene to the Mandela Effect, a nod to the late world leader’s unfailingly positive influence on those around him, even as they travel to his memorial. The Post consulted a team of PR experts who explained exactly what the image of the former prime ministers means, from why there was only one drink on the table to how the quartet arranged themselves.

All of that from a photo on an airplane, expertly snapped. Stephen Harper looks like a leader among leaders. Tom Mulcair, of the opposition NDP, was also on the airplane, as were two former governors general, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo, Alberta Premier Alison Redford and former justice minister Irwin Cotler. They’re not pictured, though. They’re elsewhere, doesn’t matter where. The Prime Minister, who’s not had too many shining moments in Ottawa of late, and only brief snippets of public revelry in between, could use a happy photo in the papers. Voilà.

Mulcair did manage to tweet a photo of himself with former PM Jean Chrétien, former GGs Michaëlle Jean and Adrienne Clarkson, as well as Gaston Barban, the High Commissioner to South Africa. Quite a group, to be sure, and it was smiles all around. But a tweet doesn’t get picked up by the papers when it’s up against four prime ministers, including the guy in power.

The Ottawa Citizen mused about the utility of a Prime Minister’s Club, a quasi-council of elders meant to impart wisdom. David Mitchell, the president and CEO of the Public Policy forum, laments the absence of such an arrangement because Harper “suffers the lack of wisdom that his predecessors represent by not drawing upon the experience and counsel of people who have held that lonely office.” Fair point: people learn from other people. But if anyone’s expecting this Prime Minister to found that club, and go beyond your average sunny photo op with the old gang, they should prepare to be disappointed.


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail The feds want to invest in aboriginal K-12 education.
National Post
Six things to know about Stephen Harper‘s trip to South Africa.
Toronto Star The Parliamentary Budget Officer is still trying to assess government cuts.
Ottawa Citizen Liberal MP Irwin Cotler is asking the feds about victim surcharges.
CBC News Barack Obama called Nelson Mandela a “giant of history.”
CTV News Obama was one of dozens of heads of state to mourn Mandela.
National Newswatch The federal Liberals could win most Montreal seats in 2015.


What you might have missed

THE NATIONAL G20 conviction. Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani was sentenced to 45 days in prison for using excessive force during the G20 protests of June 2010. Andalib-Goortani, 33, was released on bail pending appeal. His lawyer argued for an absolute discharge because of his client’s personal setbacks.
THE GLOBAL Water. A long-negotiated deal will see a desalination plant on the Red Sea pump 100,000 litres of water a year through a 180-km pipeline to the Dead Sea, which has receded drastically in recent decades. The plant will also pump water to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian authority.

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Need to know: How a Harper photo-op raises expectations

  1. Well gawd knows we can’t claim extravagance….they all look like they’re sitting in a cheap cafe in a small town.

    • Aw, worried about our international reputation again are we? *GASP!* The PM’s jet isn’t as luxurious as some other “civilized” countries. How embarrassing! Whatever will the important people think of us? Important people notice these things you know! Like, really important people. (Insert platitude about global economy here.)

      • Our international reputation matters….it affects your job, hon.

        • When I said ‘Insert platitude about global economy here‘, I wasn’t requesting that you actually do so. :)

          • Your supper is a platitude?

          • Yes, and his ability to pay for his supper is tied directly the way the PM travels. I totally get it. It’s just such a sensible and logical point to make. Silly Donny for not understanding that intuitively.

          • Well I know when I see a PM/President flying around in a Piper Cub….or recycled WWII bomber or whathaveyou with string and bailing wire….with a card table to ‘dine’ on and everybody shoehorned in…..that it’s a prosperous advanced nation that I’d like to move my corporate HQ to….or my biotech foundation…..or my robotics R&D labs….or even my personal fortune….cuz I know this is a serious 21st century country that’s going places.

            See….there’s Russia, Canada, China, US….in the size stakes.

            Who looks like the bargain basement model?

    • yes but it a 747 gutted out and reconstructed to look like a small town, complete with malt shop and general store (duty free). You can only see one little bit of it here, but if the windows were open you could see into the diner across the “street” :)

      • LOL it’s chintzy either way….ridiculous in a wealthy nation.

  2. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau was not seen in the photo. He had applied to be a senior plane server but the head of HR noted they were looking for someone with a little more experience.
    So noted the airlines HR spokeswoman: “Look he’s a nice guy, but dropping out of teaching after two years then spending the rest of his adult life in and out of university programs doesn’t really cry out ‘high achiever’. ..We recommend something a little more his speed, like retail sales or perhaps something in the fast food service industry.”

    • Mr. Trudeau didn’t need to pander to Canadians, he sent one of the most honorable and trusted MPs from his caucus, Mr. Cotler. One of a few in the HOC to have met the man(Mandela)in person. Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair operate as a one man show and a one man team, they rarely allow their MPs to even ask or even answer questions in the HOC . If Mandela was in Harpers(Mr.Tough on Crime)world, he(Mandala)would still be in jail.

    • Sorry pal, what Root Canal says below is true- he gave up his seat so Irwin Cotler (who worked on Mandela’s defence team (?)) could attend in his place.

      • Wait, some guy phoned me and said that Cotler had resigned and asked me what candidate I was supporting in the by-election! (seriously, if Cotler threw teh PM out the window it would not be undeserved).

    • Wow you must have sweated for a couple of hours to put that barrage of exquisite wit together, its some of your best work . . . If they awarded Nobel prizes for postings on discussion boards, the smart money would surely be on you.

      • Or he got lucky and drew from the PMO tps of the day quite a bit higher up then he normally does? Although this one should have been filed under stupid, ridiculous and no hoper like most of his others.

        • It must be like Glengarry Glen Ross over there . .


      • He used the job interview scenario elsewhere here today, with similar results. Wit is not improved by recycling.

    • Wrong again Biffer…you must be on some kind of time delay, or you didn’t bother reading yesterday’s post on this.

    • ” Justin Trudeau was not seen in the photo.”
      It’s a photo of Prime Ministers past and present (or is that past their “best before” date?). Are you confusing JT with his father? Making a prediction on the 2015 election? Or are you just that stupidly partisan?

      • My money is on “just that stupidly partisan”.

    • In fact, the only applicant they could remember with less experience was Stephen Harper the day before he ran as a reform MP.

      • Sadly Justin isn’t going back in time to run against a newbie reform candidate (who actually did have real credentials btw) but rather against a guy who has almost two decades of experience running the greatest country on the planet.
        I know, I know, if only unicorns were real, Justin would be looking good right now. Darn that reality.

        • Wow. Almost 2 decades of experience.
          Of course for most of the readers here it would be easier to comprehend in earth years, in which case it’s almost 8.

    • Jokes about Justin Trudeau: funny
      Fact that Justin Trudeau’s resume consists of a two year stint teaching then dropping in and out of school until he was in his 40’s: not so funny

      • Funniest of all: You preceding a falsehood with the word “fact”.

  3. “I’m not a grumpy politician anymore. I’m a statesman.” —former PM Brian Mulroney

    I could have sworn the quote was – grubby politician – but then i was probably projecting.
    Good for Brian anyway. He deserves all the kudos he’s getting for taking the stand he did. Funny how the bandwagon hasn’t tipped over yet though, there being so many Cons out there scrambling for a place on the Mandela is great glory train. Cons who just weren’t there back in the day. Still, everyone deserves a chance to learn from their mistakes as Mandela would have doubtless said.

    • While we’re rehabilitating the ol’ hustler we’re erasing from
      memory the thousands ( millions around the world) who hit
      the bricks and pounded on the investment “community” in
      one of recent history’s better moments.

      • Not quite getting all that…i don’t do cryptic too well. Come again please?[ just the bricks and investment bit]

        • I think he’s suggesting that in deifying Mulroney wrt Mandela, we’re overlooking the global movement against apartheid in general, and many key Canadians more specifically, that worked toward its demise (“hiting the bricks”). One of the key fronts in that fight was economic embargo – which included public campaigns of pressure against gobal investment corporations.

          • I can hardly think of a pol i’d less like to deify then BM. But i’ll tip my hat to him on this one. Point taken all around.
            I’m struck by how much the celebration in SA is a party for those less well known in the struggle against aparheid…it’s sometimes very moving to watch and listen to, after all this time. Generally i think the media[ particularly the cbc] has done a good job on this.[radio anyway]

        • It was probably a matter of time anyway .. but
          would anything have happened when it did if there
          wasn’t a mass movement at work to force that change
          through the “great men” of the time ?

          • No,maybe not. I’m pretty much onside with Mandela’s view that history is written by the masses. OTOH[ there’s always one of course] history just keeps on throwing up these “great” men[ Mandela of course , not BM] and women to focus or channel some of that energy, and even on occasion lead where no one else wants to go. Had it been simply left to the masses in SA there would have been a bloodbath, or at least something odious like Zimbabwe

  4. There goes Mulroney again, claiming credit before it’s due. As Bob Edwards said,
    “Now I know what a statesman is; he’s a dead politician. We need more statesmen.”

  5. in that photo I see four very powerful people, some I like some I don’t. What I do see is one man who is pondering if he will be the centre piece of a criminal trial probe and pondering what is it like to live in these new jails he ordered built.