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The visual cultures of differing Canadian groups were key in determining how the three major party candidates chose to portray themselves, or not, to these cultures. Throughout the 2015 Canadian election the various visual cultures of different groups were used by each political party in differing ways to achieve the goal of connecting with the voting members of each visual culture. Each party candidate had their own way to visually present themselves in the hopes of connecting with the specific groups, or ignored some groups as being visually associated with them was not a part of their image.

Visual culture

Justin Trudeau Canoeing
Justin and Sophie Trudeau

Justin Trudeau attempted to align himself with some more traditionally disenfranchised groups that other politicians vocally support, but not visually, such as the LGBTQ community. Images of Trudeau throughout the campaign played on the visuals audiences have come to associate with strong leaders; he is portrayed as athletic, a man of action, welcoming, likeable and charismatic. Trudeau’s campaign attempted to heavily associate him with the visual culture of today’s cinematic shows or movies; he is portrayed in a way that is closer to the visual culture surrounding an A-list Hollywood actor rather than a Canadian politician. 

Justin Trudeau
Stephen Harper

Stephen Harper decided to present himself in his folk and country roots. He attended the Calgary Stampede or CFL games. Harper also characterized himself as being negative, more aggressive due to his campaign attack ads aimed at Trudeau. All the while Harper played it safe by doing traditional photo ops that didn’t have any specific aim. Harper did not attempt to associate with any culture aside from his own too closely; he chose to visually disassociate himself from minority cultures and communities which further projected his image as being the opposite of Trudeau. 

Thomas Mulcair's campaign tried to present him as an educated man by generally having photo ops in library’s, coffee shops or law offices. Aside from that key distinction, most his association with visual culture fell into the same category as Harper; play it safe and distance minority groups from associating with him. The simplest way to do this was to simply not be seen involved with said groups. In fact, when compared to Trudeau and Harper, Mulcair was the least associated with any visual culture.

Thomas Mulclair

Of the three-party candidates, it was evident that Justin Trudeau’s campaign was the most successful in not only connecting him to numerous sub-cultures, but also in taking the larger visual culture of western society that is propagated by the media and using it to his advantage and connecting him to the voting population on an almost subliminal level.

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