Harper's ghosts of Christmas cards past

You don't have to look too closely at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's 2011 Christmas card to notice a few similarities with last year's holiday offering.

Spot the difference: Prime Minister's 2011 Christmas card resembles 2010 mailout

It's a dilemma many Canadian families can relate to: what photo should go on the annual family Christmas card?

For the Harpers, who live at 24 Sussex Drive, there are many shots to choose from. During the election campaign for example, news photographers as well as the prime minister's own staff photographer had numerous opportunities to capture the prime minister, his wife Laureen and their children Ben and Rachel in flattering and celebratory family moments.

All the more curious then, that for the prime minister's official 2011 Christmas card, his office appears to have used a shot from the past.

A direct comparison between the 2010 and 2011 Christmas cards suggests the photos may be from the same (2010?) photo shoot. Only Laureen Harper appears in a different outfit in the outdoor versus indoor shots. And more recent images of the prime minister's fast-growing children from public events later in 2011 also suggest the photo used in the 2011 card is not very recent. The Prime Minister's Office has yet to respond to our query about the photo.

Perhaps hectic schedules made it difficult to work in a new sitting earlier this fall. Or perhaps it's by design: a frugal message for what will be for many Canadian families a scaled-back holiday season.

But anyone feeling bad about resorting to a little regifting, rewearing or reusing this holiday season can take heart from the example set by the highest political office holder in the land.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's 2010 Christmas card. From left, Stephen Harper, wife Laureen, son Ben and daughter Rachel.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's 2011 Christmas card.