The government lobby of the House of Commons has some new wallpaper - in the form of photographs of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
At some point while MPs were away for the extended Christmas break, the lobby was re-plastered with pictures of Harper, much to the bemusement of visitors - and, no doubt, awed respect from his loyal caucus. Garth Turner, the former Conservative turned Liberal MP from Halton, took his camera into the lobby and has posted the decorating makeover on his site.
Talking to reporters yesterday about the new portrait gallery, Turner said: "When I was last in the caucus there were pictures of former prime ministers on the wall. There was a nice picture of Sir John and a nice picture of Diefenbaker. ... Now there's only one prime minister on all the walls, and that is Mr. Harper."
No one can remember any other prime minister or party leader using the Commons lobbies for vanity displays. The Liberals have posted photos of all their former leaders on the wall -- even those who served temporarily, such as the venerable Herb Gray from Windsor.
Turner, for his part, thinks the photo montage is unseemly. "Obviously a guy with a big ego likes to have lots of pictures of himself to look at, but I think it begs a few questions. The House of Commons of course belongs to all of us, and right now it's turned into quite the little show.
There are photos of Mr. Harper in front of airplanes, Mr. Harper wearing firefighter gear, Mr. Harper broadcasting a hockey game, Mr. Harper meeting the Dalai Lama."
According to Turner, this is just another vivid illustration of Harper's penchant for control. "All the walls there are now adorned with photos of Mr. Harper in case any of his caucus forgets who they work for."