The twitterverse was out in full force this week as Premier Doug Ford was seen and videotaped digging out stranded cars and driving people around last Monday during the blizzard. The main objection appeared to be that Ford’s press people circulated the video—detracting from the authenticity of the event. Several of the tweets suggested Ford was digging out the car of his press secretary, but Ivana Yelich told the Bay Observer that she wasn’t even with the Premier on Monday. So there.
Despite the Twitter outrage, the Ford mission got generally favourable coverage in the media.
But while we are on the topic of political photo-ops that are a little light in the authenticity department, let us not forget Justin Trudeau’s cringeworthy image kneeling in a Saskatchewan field, clutching a teddy bear in remembrance of the discovery of the graves of indigenous children who died in residential schools. Think of the choreography that would have had to have gone into creating that image. Presumably a staffer would have been dispatched to a toy store before the Trudeau entourage boarded the jet. Then as columnist Warren Kinsella pointed out, “who brings along a taxpayer-subsidized photographer to take pictures to be hauled out in an election campaign that a country neither wants or needs? Who pays respects to (possibly, likely, murdered) Indigenous children by making him or herself the focus? Justin Trudeau, of course.”
The fact is that photo-ops are the stuff of politics at all points on the political spectrum. Whether its Jagmeet Singh skate-boarding across a tarmac to remind everyone that he is young and athletic, or members of legislatures clustering behind the premier, so the TV camera won’t show the chamber is mostly empty, or those hostage photos taken during campaign stops with supposedly ordinary people standing behind the candidate’s podium—it’s all theatre. As one tweeter observed, did any of those who criticized Ford’s gesture last Monday, help any stranded motorists?