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Video: Conservative leadership race has taken on an avant-garde art project feel

They’ve excelled at abstraction: 14 candidates that are distinguishable only with an angling of the head or a squint.

Conservative MP Kellie Leitch is among the hopefuls eager to take on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next federal election.

Facebook/Kellie Leitch

Conservative MP Kellie Leitch is among the hopefuls eager to take on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next federal election.

As an art project, the Conservative leadership race has taken on an avant-garde feeling. They’ve excelled at abstraction: 14 candidates that are distinguishable only with an angling of the head or a squint.

Yet two have found a way to stand out as only one can in 2017: Internet videos.

In a rather intriguing film from 2011 surfaced by Press Progress, Kevin O’Leary is shaving in a bright marble bathroom while wearing a towel around his waist.

For all the Trump comparisons, O’Leary’s bathroom looks more like my parents’ than a gold-embossed penthouse. He is also shaving his own face, which is a humble move for a titan of industry. (Perhaps the butler was holding the camera?)

In advance of a morning appearance via Skype, O’Leary gripes that all his bosses at the CBC are women, saying, “The thing about the CBC I gotta tell you guys, is the whole place is run by women.... It’s ridiculous.”

To “get back at them,” as O’Leary puts it, he vows to not wear pants. “I never do,” he says, as the camera pans down threateningly.

Sure, it’s offensive to women, but as a piece of art, it is incisive and compelling. The viewers must ask themselves: Is O’Leary reverse-complimenting women by insulting them? Is it a performance art piece of a lone man, naked and shorn, yet somehow harmed by women? I call it Wounded Masculinity and the Art of Shaving.

Or, it may be a commentary on the obsessive pettiness that comes when working from home alone too long. Truly, I have borne witness to the human condition, and it is a video of Kevin O’Leary topless and shaving.

The second video is a critique of video as a form. In it, Kellie Leitch presents her vision that all who enter Canada — immigrant, tourist, person on a layover to Seattle — must have a face-to-face interview with an immigration officer. That is not new information from the Leitch campaign. What is fresh is the visual journey.

As Leitch waxes on Canadian values like tolerance and faces (I could not hear the rest for the beauty), she wanders in and out of the light. At times, she sits briefly then hurtles back towards the camera. When you least expect, she takes a deep breath as if to say, “Life is a series of breaths. And some of those breaths are taken by immigrants who are a threat to our
borders.”

Few auteurs can execute one resonant silence, let alone several of them. To do so while playing with motion, light and shadow is no less than mastery.

As the May 27 leadership election draws nearer, one can only hope for more challenging Conservative art.

Fingers crossed for a rap about the carbon tax.

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