On Monday, all the television networks showed pictures of Pauline Marois touring the Kruger paper mill in Trois-Rivières. She and fellow candidates met with workers and spoke to reporters.
The factory tour is a common campaign stop, showing the leader as a person of the people — someone who's not afraid to get dirty while being shown around the plant.
What viewers don't see is the work that goes on behind the scenes to set the stage and make the leader look good. As with most aspects of politics, even factory tours include a heavy dose of theatrics.
The entire campaign is a show made for television.
Hours before Marois's campaign bus pulls into a location, a consultant hired by the Parti Québécois shows up to inspect the site — taking a look at the colours of the walls, the lighting and the space provided.
He decides where the podium will be set up for Marois to give her speech and how far back television cameras will be installed.
Workers set up stage lights a few metres away from the podium, ensuring proper facial complexion.
Once the podium and cameras are installed, the consultant snaps a picture of the room and sends it to Yves Desgagnés for feedback. He’s the theatre director hired as the mastermind behind Pauline Marois' image for this campaign.
Desgagnés spent time touring the province with the PQ leader, coaching her on how to better deliver speeches and attending to the look of campaign stops.
These days, he's busy preparing the big show — the PQ election night rally to be held at the Westin Hotel in Montreal. Win or lose, the PQ knows images of that night will be broadcast again and again for years to come. They want Marois — and the party — to look sharp.
Marshall McLuhan famously said ''the medium is the message.'' In television, political parties take this to mean the way a speech is given — and the precise location and camera angle — are just as important as what's said.