LONDON – Never mind finding consensus on fixing the global economy – the G20 can’t seem to get it together for a group photo.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was an unexpected no-show Thursday at the initial “family photo” of Group of 20 leaders. But that was just the start. The whole routine – which actually included leaders from more than 20 countries – was restaged about an hour later.
This time, however, it was Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who were absent.
The photo imbroglio became the talk of the summit, with breathless foreign media quizzing their Canadian counterparts about British reports that Harper was “in the loo” when the first photo was taken.
For the record, incensed Canadian officials insisted the prime minister was being briefed at the time on the draft G20 communique. No explanation of the absence of the colourful and controversial Berlusconi was immediately offered.
As for the Indonesian president, it appeared to take some time for the leaders to ascertain precisely who all was missing when a head count revealed the group was two members short.
Once the mystery was solved and the photo shoot concluded, the leaders got back to the task at hand: figuring out ways to improve global financial regulation, including accounting transparency.
There was no plan for a third attempt at the group shot; a Harper spokesman insisted the leaders were consumed with discussing the troubled world economy.
“I don’t think their priority was photo-ops,” said Dimitri Soudas, who made a point of noting that the BBC had retracted its claim of a mis-timed Harper bathroom break.