The Kiss, Canadian version

April 1, 2012

For years I had a picture on the wall of my classroom of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty petting a kitten.  During a Friday afternoon letdown on an otherwise hard-fought campaign in September of 2003, a bored operative in the Tory War Room sent out the following press release: "McGuinty.  He's an evil reptilian kitten eater from another planet."

Over the weekend there was quite a backlash.  Nobody seemed to get the Buffy- the-Vampire-Slayer-flavoured humour in the comment.  The media coverage put incumbent premier Ernie Eves on his back foot to start the final week of the campaign.

Then came a Saturday photo op on a diary farm north of Toronto.  Everyone was standing around when a white and yellow kitten sidled over and rubbed against McGuinty's foot.  He bent down, grinned wryly, and held the kitten for photos.  When that photo appeared in the Ottawa Citizen Monday morning (we always had a bundle of newspapers for my English classes), I announced that the thing was won.  Dalton McGuinty would be the next premier of Ontario because he now had the right symbol.

I made a similar announcement about Jack Layton's cane.

And now we have a much better image than either of these, the embrace between Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie in the ring following the thrashing of the great Tory hope, Patrick Brazeau. It's a passionate image of the relief a wife feels when she gets her man back from battle.

I predict we'll see this photo for a long time in the Canadian culture and Trudeau's star will rise with it.

(Unfortunately the Ottawa Citizen no longer archives this photo.)


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