16 March 2014

Signs of an Election

Ah, the election signs. They pollute our view of the city for all of the rather short 33 days of the campaign, and for much longer afterward, until they are scavenged for other uses. One of the better uses has been by artist Yvon Goulet, who uses the fronts of these corrugated communicators as canvasses for his art with an urban edge.

Until they can be salvaged and transformed, however, they are out there trying to persuade us to vote for party X and candidate Y. And they are generally out there early, too, as candidates jump the gun to have their posters out there even before the election writ is dropped, if only by a few hours. So shall we have a look at this election’s crop of imagery?

Parti québécois (PQ)

I’ll start with the Parti québécois, the governing party (at least that’s where they were at the beginning). This time they have gone with a very simple approach: name of the party very prominently, large colour photo pf the candidate with the first and last names printed across the chest to the left (from the viewer’s perspective) and the party logo at bottom right with the web address in simplified form and the Facebook and Twitter logos to entice us to look for content elsewhere.

My first reactions to these, apart from being annoyed at how they went up overnight the day before the election call, was to note that this is the first time I remember seeing the PQ logo presented all in white. I speculated that this might be the effect of the party’s proposed Charte des valeurs (the real name of the legislation ended up far too long to remember): excluding all the colours and variety. In the search for images on the web, I discovered that this is in fact not the case, as it was all white last time around, too! I stand corrected, but not chastened…the imagery of the all-white logo in the context of this divisive social debate is fascinating.

Parti liberal du Québec (PLQ)

The Liberal Party would have done well to follow the simplicity example laid down by the PQ. They have gone with prominent slogan — or at least the first word of the slogan is prominent, as the other words are too small to read except from a very proximate position. Even the Ensemble loses its punch on the bilingual version of the posters that are to be seen in some areas. (Apologies for the fuzziness of the second photo: I was waiting for a bus after seeing a movie and took it with my phone in the cold.)

If even the most prominent word on the poster is at times difficult to make out, the candidates’ names are even harder to discern. I wouldn’t be hiring the same firm next time around if I were the PLQ.

Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ)

The CAQ might have the most graphically interesting posters. I have always found their logo — if not their policies — very pretty and interesting. This time around, they are taking full advantage of that by deconstructing the colourful logo or showing parts of it only in the images. The actual posters outside (and here I am relying on what I found online, as they seem not to be spending a lot of time promoting their candidate in my part of town, where they finished 4th last time out, with just under 15% of the vote) have a black and white photo of the candidate with the full colour logo and the name of the candidate. Sometimes, it’s just the top or the bottom of the logo and that lends an air of sophistication to the whole campaign. Or at least the visuals.

One of my colleagues has pointed out that in some regions of Québec, the slogan On se donne Legault takes a turn for the juvenile, as le go is slang for diarrhoea, which has got to be unfortunate for them.

Québec solidaire (QS)

Québec solidaire might be poised to pick up a couple more seats in central Montréal because of the perceived right-wing turn of the PQ, and they are running hard, with posters that went up almost as early as everyone else’s. Unlike everyone else, however, they have a series of issues-oriented messages almost as abundant as their candidate posters. I kind of like the sharp candidate photo with the blurred (and oranged) background, but I would have to say that the posters are a bit wordy and there is a bit of a disconnect between voting with your head (as the slogan would have it) and the omnipresent heart pictogram.

On the issues posters, there are unfortunately two different styles. And as I paired them up I discovered that there are different dimensions, too, as some have text trimmed from them for me to fit them into the same space. I like the ones with the photos, as they really click with the whole of the campaign. The messages on the other ones are attractive too, but the hors série look doesn’t help make for a cohesive campaign. I will confess, though, that I have not seen the plain colour ones anywhere but on the Facebook page of the party…the only ones on poles outdoors are the ones that fit together with the candidate posters.

Oh, and one more thing that I wanted to share, especially in light of our divisive Charter debate: from a distance, I was sure that the young woman pictured with the metrosexual guy in the Québec libre poster was wearing a hijab. It wasn’t until I got much closer that I realized it was a knitted hat, and that made me chuckle all the more, as the distinction between the two is so very artificial.

Parti vert du Québec

Oh come on now! If you can afford to put a full-colour photo of your leader on your posters (only one model out there, all leader, no local candidates) and you can spend money on having them all over the place (how ecological is that?), you could at least deploy a little creativity to take your look beyond high school.

Option nationale

You would think that Option nationale might have a stronger presence in my sovereignist neighbourhood, but no. No posters here; all images drawn from their Facebook page. They probably have even fewer resources than the Greens (don’t quote me on that though — ON seems to have a campaign car and maybe it’s still too cold, but I haven’t seen any campaign bicycles for the Greens), but they have managed to put together some imagery that looks sophisticated and a simple well-constructed slogan. They couldn’t contain themselves, though, and tended toward the wordy in some versions.

Parody and graffiti

Sometimes it is very funny to see what people can do to the posters that are all out there for us to appreciate — and apparently write on! Sometimes the graffiti is just not clever and downright offensive. If you want to see ongoing examples of both, I would suggest this Tumblr, which seems to be posting regularly. Two that I will talk about, however, are parodies done with computer graphics rather than felt markers.

The first is my own, of which I am excessively proud. Since the announcement only one week ago of the candidacy of Pierre-Karl Péladeau (PKP) for the PQ, there have been big waves in the campaign, and not necessarily all in the direction that the PQ hoped for. Here was a successful entrepreneur coming out clearly in favour of Québec independence, which might be a boost if that is your issue. However, PKP comes with some other baggage, notably a huge number of lockouts of his employees and the exploitation of gaps in the anti-scab law that made it possible for his company to hire telecommuting journalists to replace the locked-out ones. For a party like the PQ that used to have a left wing (this has been a bloody stump for quite some time now, regularly hacked off), the Lockout King of Québécor might also be the cause of lost votes to the left.

So, while I am not the inventor of the name “Parti Québécor” I did take the logo of the media conglomerate and put it into the format of this campaign’s representation of the Parti québécois, even replacing the “Q” with the PQ’s traditional logo, but in black to go with the company name.

A well-meaning young woman photoshopped a hijab onto the election poster featuring PQ leader Pauline Marois. While the symbolism of this image is interesting and the young woman herself says she thinks the Première ministre looks beautiful in it, the act plays into the hands of the supporters of the Charte des valeurs, in my opinion. She has imposed a hijab on Pauline Marois (as opposed to Mme Marois having chosen to wear it) and in doing so she has also covered up (erased) Mme Marois’ name. That’s too bad. It might have been a stronger message to put the hijab on Bernard Drainville, the minister responsible for the Charte, subverting the symbolism and erasing the identity of a man for a change.

TV ads, too!

From an article on the site of l’Actualité, but rearranged into the order of presentation above, and selecting only one per party:

(I guess the high school camcorder was not available for the other two.)

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