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Photo ops

Prorogation optics are open and shut Add to ...

The Liberals and New Democrats staged nearly identical photo ops yesterday to illustrate the shutting down of Parliament.

First up was NDP Leader Jack Layton, who stood at a podium surrounded by his caucus, positioned in front of the doors to the House of Commons chamber. A half an hour later Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff arrived. He too was surrounded by his caucus, also in front of the doors to the chamber.

There was one subtle difference, however. The big ornate wooden ornate doors to Commons were shut tight for the NDP photo op. Those very same doors, however, were wide open for the Liberal version.

Last night, an NDP official was gloating slightly, criticizing the Grits for the staging of their photo op. The official, who didn't want to be named, said that it was the closed doors that told the story of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his decision to prorogue Parliament. He couldn't understand why the Liberals would leave them open.

A Liberal official said this morning they opened the doors to show the sad, empty, lifeless chamber. "We wanted to show that the room where we are supposed to be working was ready, lit, but empty," the official said. "We wanted people to see that it is idle."

It was also noted that press cameras "fought" for position to shoot extra footage of the empty chamber. The problem is, however, that Mr. Ignatieff was not in that empty chamber shot.

Global National led its prorogation piece on its broadcast last night with pictures of the NDP caucus and Mr. Layton. Images of Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberals were farther down in the story.

All this is to say that photo ops are important and carefully thought out. Indeed, while in opposition Dave Penner, who is now a senior member of the Prime Minister's Office, was known to get out an iron when they were on the road and make sure there were no wrinkles in the Canadian flags that were positioned behind Stephen Harper.

(Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

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