|THE PAUL CHIASSON/CANADIAN PRESS/|
|Conservative Leader Stephen Harper at a news conference at a housing project Sept. 16, in Kitchener, Ont.|
Photo opportunities — or “photo ops” — used to actually mean something, namely an opportunity to photograph a politician actually doing something for real, or in the case of former Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield, not doing something, like catching the football. (Yes, we know, he caught it several times before he dropped it.)
In modern campaigns, they've evolved into visual stunts.
Under the Conservatives, “photo ops” have a whole new meaning, or rather they don't. In some cases, they are purely visual stunts, staged but meaningless.
The entourage of reporters following Harper are not allowed near them — they might ask questions. Only cameras. Today’s was telling.
Conservative leader Stephen Harper — before he announced his proposal for a tax credit for first-time homebuyers — went to a different house than the one featured behind him when he announced his plan. A few blocks away in the same subdivision, the earlier "photo op" that would show up in newscasts featured Harper speaking to a young couple in an uncompleted home.
Turned out this was not even the home that Stephanie Roberts and Brad Shildroth were in the midst of buying. “Yours is a similar one?” Harper prompted. They said yes. Harper replied he remembered when he and his wife Laureen “were building our first place.”
“I think what we did was got a picture of me with a shovel...and the whole house done. Of course I didn’t do anything,” he said. He posed with a shovel in the snow, as if he was about to dig the basement.
“We kept the moment for posterity,” he said as media photographers captured the campaign moment, which was not a real moment at all.