I've always relied on the kindness of Laura Lucas. More than that, I've always relied on her expertise.
For those of you who haven't committed to memory the credits of our program, Laura is - among many things - in charge of visual research for the Agenda.
And Lord knows television needs visuals.
Laura and I have worked together at TVO for more years than either of us are prepared to admit. She is usually the first person I talk to when I am preparing to produce anything for the show, and she usually comes up with a visual idea or two off the top of her head before she even begins the research half of her job title. Such is the case with tonight's program, which is about the... visual... side of politics. Political strategists, media advisors and image consultants are the Laura Lucases of political life.
Lord knows politicians need visuals.
In a democracy like Canada, we like to think the electorate makes up its mind based on an informed assessment of policies and capabilities, but if that’s the case, why is political image consulting such a big business, why is so much time and effort spent in trying to burnish perceptions and personalities (and in tearing down opponents’ public image), and why do polls numbers often seem to rise and fall based on perceptions of leaders? We'll let some expert guests have a crack at some of these questions tonight. And we welcome our viewers' thoughts below.
When I first spoke to Laura about this show, she immediately suggested some archival footage she remembered seeing of former Ontario Premier Bill Davis receiving media training. We'll show some of this footage tonight, and with the help of Jennifer Israel, another talented TVO visual researcher, and other TVO staffers, we were able to upload a larger chunk of the footage onto our website for political junkies to peruse. The footage dates from 1971, shortly after Davis was first elected as "Prime Minister of Ontario" (as the job was then called):
The footage is courtesy of the Archives of Ontario (and Laura Lucas...)