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Privileged Access

by Jean-Marc Carisse

Jean-Marc Carisse, who’s served as official photographer for three Liberal prime ministers – Trudeau, Turner, and Chrétien – has raided his portfolio for Privileged Access, which also includes text by Mark Bell. But while the book collects images spanning more than two decades, beginning in the late 1970s, it rarely fulfills the promise of its title. Most shots simply bring a slightly different perspective to standard public appearances and photo ops: campaign trail stops, official dinners, visits with foreign dignitaries. Carisse does capture the odd closed-door strategy session or international negotiation, but the formality of those occasions hampers any potential revelations. All of which suggests that Privileged Access will appeal only to the most fervent followers of Canadian politics.
That said, there are some arresting pictures here. John Turner’s stint as prime minister was brief, but he seems to have inspired some of Carisse’s most striking composition work. The scene above records Turner’s campaign launch in 1984, with the candidate emerging from a phalanx of his own likenesses.