A Canadian Conservative Politician Was Actually a Performance Artist Playing a Decade-Long Prank
Chris Lloyd's intention was apparently to "mess with" the Tories. Looks like he succeeded.
My name is Stephen Harper and I approve this candidate (until I learn he's a fake). Photo via Chris Lloyd's website.
This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
A Conservative candidate's sudden resignation marks the latest chapter in an artistic performance that's now spanned over 15 years.
On Tuesday, a CBC News investigation revealed that Montreal-area "politician" Chris Lloyd was in fact a performer, whose foray into politics was intended to "mess with" the Tories.
Lloyd—who was running in the district of Papineau against Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau himself—has since resigned, though he told the CBC his "political career" was "not yet over."
On one of his blogs, Lloyd details how he's been writing regular letters to Canada's Prime Ministers since the Chrétien era.
"I began writing daily, diary-style letters to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien while completing my undergraduate studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1999," he writes.
"The project began as a sort of character study, an attempt to determine how well I knew the PM," his post says. "How well do any of us really know our elected officials, TV stars, or sports heroes?"
Lloyd's letters have since been curated into a variety of art exhibits. The synopsis of a 2009 art show in Val D'or describes several of his projects, which include hyperrealist paintings, video montages, and objects crafted from the letters themselves, like paper planes and paper maché hockey sculptures.
His blog also states that in a decade of correspondence, Lloyd only received about a "handful" of responses to his 2,000+ letters, "all form letters signed by PMO correspondence officers."
In a videotaped speech he gave during a Fredericton art conference (obtained by the CBC), Lloyd explains how he went from making "mail art" to becoming an actual political candidate.
According to the reports, he describes how he first reached out to his electoral riding association, telling them about an art-inspired political project and asking to attend the upcoming national convention.
Despite this disclosure, Lloyd was then given an increasing amount of responsibility, culminating in his acclamation as the official Tory candidate in a district that has never voted Conservative.
This, even though he'd initially hinted at his intentions, and despite the fact that photos of past exhibits and references to Lloyd's letter-writing are easily searchable.
Conservative Party spokesperson Cory Hann declined to comment on their candidate-vetting process, telling VICE this was "an internal party matter."
Still, parts of Lloyd's campaign do seem legitimate. In 2011, around the time he attended his first national Conservative convention, Lloyd made a $600 donation to the party (which could also be the convention costs). And his official blog is a collage of photos taken with big Tory names and partisan sentiment, including a 2011 photo of Lloyd posing between a baby and Stephen Harper, captioned "Strong, Stable, National, Conservative Majority Government."
Lloyd's true political allegiance, however, is harder to pin down. Elements like this video and his membership to anti-Harper group LeadNow suggests Lloyd's leanings are anything but Conservative.
When asked on Twitter if his resignation meant he'd now be crossing the floor, Lloyd answered: "The floor of my office, kitchen or bedroom?"
He declined to comment for this story.
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