Photo Fail: 9 Cringeworthy Canadian Political Photo-Ops
The political photo-op: sometimes it’s an enduring image that evokes the power, compassion and leadership you hope will convince the public to cast their vote your way. Other times it’s you attempting, and failing, to kick a football. That’s what happened to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who unsuccessfully “kicked off” the 1968 Grey Cup by booting the ball into a group of gathered media.
Not every political photo op can be as cool as former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien wakeboarding at age 79. Sometimes they are dull or just don’t generate public interest. And sometimes, if they’re just silly enough, they end up on a list like this.
Someone please teach Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to tie a tie!
The need Canadian prime ministers feel to “fit in” with the Calgary Stampede crowd almost always results in awkward photos of decidedly non-cowboy types trying to pull off the Wild West look. Case in point: Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and his wife Aline, who look like rejected models from a French Canadian version of the American Gothic painting. Note the Prime Minister’s rolled up pants, meant to show off his boots. Perhaps Chrétien should have offered his wardrobe stylist a “Shawinigan Handshake” for putting together this ensemble.
The Shawinigan Handshake (1996)
Speaking of the Shawinigan Handshake, the incident in which Prime Minister Chrétien choked Bill Clennett, an anti-poverty activist, at a National Flag of Canada Day event in Hull, Que., became one of the most famous images of Chrétien’s time in office.
Yes folks, this leather vest-wearing leader of the Conservative Party of Canada became Prime Minister a little over a year after this photo was taken.
This photo was taken a week before the ruling Liberals lost a confidence vote, triggering the 2006 election, and doesn’t quite inspire hope in the leadership of this nation.
We can only imagine what all the major party leaders from the time, photographed here, were thinking when this was taken. From left to right:
Jack Layton (NDP Leader): “Hey, isn’t that the guy who wore the leather vest at the Calgary Stampede?”
Okay, maybe the word “hero” is a bit of an overstatement. Martin doesn’t exactly conjure an image of Jimi Hendrix in this shot, and shortly after this photo was taken, in January, 2006, he lost the Federal election that saw Stephen Harper – you know, the guy with the leather vest – become Prime Minister. We can only assume Martin’s guitar gently wept as it all went down.
On the surface this seems like a pretty good photo op – Prime Minister Stephen Harper chatting with firefighters who battled the wildfires raging in British Columbia in July.
However, the story this photo is attached to is one of the PM, “getting slammed on social media for having a group of front-line firefighters pulled out of the smoky hills near [Kelowna] so they could pose with him for a patriotic, pre-election picture.”
Buy a shirt, Bieber (2012)
For all of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s leather vests and failed firefighter photo-ops, you have to admit that he was at least always dressed for the occasion. Pop star Justin Bieber, on the other hand, showed up looking like a reject from Howdy Doody, dressed in baggy overalls and a t-shirt to accept his Diamond Jubilee medal from the Prime Minister in 2012.