Monday, September 13, 2010

When photo-ops go wrong

Harper is the tenth man on the deal team, apparently. When things go wrong that is:
Stephen Harper apparently had no idea his MPs would sport the Quebec Nordiques jerseys last Wednesday in a photo op that would spark a controversy across the country.

Tory MP Steven Blaney told QMI Agency on Sunday the Prime Minister’s Office had no idea they would wear the sweaters.

“It was a little surprise,” he said.

The MPs wore the jerseys in an apparent show of support for a new arena in Quebec City that could spell the return of the NHL franchise to the provincial capital.

They posed in the sweaters after a favourable Ernst and Young report on the project was released.
Kind of hard to believe that Harper would have had no idea about this very high profile photo op. It has been reported that his office has final say on his government's p.r. events, top to bottom. On an issue like this that had attracted media coverage, that the PM had spoken about in the lead up, as politically sensitive as it's proven to be, it's a stretch to think Harper's office wouldn't have been all over this one. With hockey the focus, to boot.

Even if Harper had nothing to do with it, what's the point of hanging your Quebec MPs out to dry like this? What a sign that the issue has blown up on them, well and truly.

In other news on this issue today...L. Ian MacDonald tries to throw Harper a life line. He argues that the 2022 Quebec City Olympics bid is the right way to have sold this funding of the Quebec arena. That if the PM steps up in this "leadership moment" and pitches those far away Olympics as the key along with how much private money Pierre Karl Peladeau is willing to pitch in, he just might sell it. Not sure how it helps the matter at the moment to elevate Peladeau's involvement in this. Wouldn't that just further speculation about a quid pro quo? The NHL angle has pretty much sucked up the oxygen on this now in any event. That's why the photo is such a problem.

The PMO needs a new rule a la Bill Maher: live by the photo-op, die by the photo-op. Own 'em all.