L’AQUILA, Italy – Better late than never.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears to have an issue with the traditional “family” photo at international summits. In April, outraged staff in the Prime Minister’s Office had to squelch reports that Harper was “in the loo” – in the words of the British Broadcasting Corporation – when he missed a group photo at the G20 meeting in London.
Now Harper has kept his fellow leaders waiting again, this time for a family photo at the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy.
The Group of Eight major industrialized countries, plus the added Group of Five developing nations, plus Egypt, were all scheduled to convene for the photo after their morning meeting.
U.S. President Barack Obama was noticeably late, holding up the proceedings, and finally literally jogged into the photo area to cheers from the other leaders. But there was still no Canadian prime minister.
“Harper? Harper?” could be heard from the dais as they craned their necks over the sea of photographers.
Harper finally arrived almost two minutes later and walked to his position in the back row beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The prime minister’s officials stonewalled repeated inquiries about why he was late – again – for a photo op.
“I don’t think you’re paying attention to the summit . . . . The prime minister was at the photo op,” snapped spokesman Dimitri Soudas.
He had a point. At least the prime minister arrived.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak pulled up in a golf cart after the group photo had disbanded.