Mysterious portrait artist is the talk of the B.C. Legislature

Click to play video: 'Mystery caricaturist is the talk of Victoria' Mystery caricaturist is the talk of Victoria
WATCH: A mystery cartoonist who is posting caricatures of various Victoria politicians and media figures is the talk of the legislature. Richard Zussman reports – May 23, 2018

It is the B.C. Legislature’s greatest mystery: who is behind the @bcpoliportrait Twitter account? The new Twitter profile popped up in April and every day new portraits are sketched of members of both the legislative assembly and the media.

“It has got to be someone who knows us quite well,” Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said. “I don’t know if it’s someone inside the building or out of it. Is it a she, is it a her? Who knows?

“I love it. It brings a real good-heartedness into this place.”

It is unclear why the mysterious artist started sketching caricatures of the characters that occupy the B.C. Legislature. But it is obvious the account is catching on. It now has more than 500 followers and even Premier John Horgan has seen his picture.

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“I have only seen a thumbnail of myself on my wife’s Facebook messenger,” Horgan said.

Horgan got sentimental when asked about his portrait, mentioning his affinity for political cartoons. The premier hopes the Twitter account leads to a resurgence in political cartooning in B.C.

“I believe the editorial cartoon is a fundamental part of our news distribution. I am a big fan. A picture says a thousand words even if they are bad pictures,” said Horgan. “Not to see [Adrian] Raeside more often, not to see [Bob] Krieger on the pages of The Province, I think it does a disservice to the province. If there are budding cartoonists out there, I wish them all the best.”

As of Wednesday afternoon the @bcpoliportrait account had sent out 163 tweets. Not only does it include portraits of MLAs and the media, it also features pictures of the speaker, the clerks and props around the legislature including the famous bell that ends question period.

Politicians don’t know when their portrait is coming and some are surprised when they pop up.

“My partner told me, ‘Have you seen the portrait you have done?’ I said, No,’ and I looked and I said, ‘That looks pretty neat. But I know I have hair,'” joked the mostly bald Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

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Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was one of the first bcpoliportraits. @bcpoliportraits

There are a few clues online as to who the politically inclined artist might be.

One is that the sketcher appears to be a fan of Global BC legislative bureau chief Keith Baldrey.

Each morning a new picture of Baldrey is added to the Twitter page. They include depictions of the long-time reporter interviewing former prime minister Joe Clark, former premier Bill Vander Zalm, and one with a golf club and ball in hand. Baldrey’s late dog Teddy has even made a pair of appearances.

The other is that the artist always seems to be listening. MLA Michelle Stilwell was originally drawn without her signature smile. But when the often positive politician spoke out about her stern-looking photo, a new smiling photo was added.

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“It is fun. Just look at how many people are following, are interested in it and are liking it,” Stilwell said. “At least someone is following what we are doing here.”

There is no sign of when all of this may be drawing to a close. The hope from most MLAs is that it will continue until every single politician has had their picture sketched out.

“You have to laugh at politicians sometimes,” NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said. “Certainly some British Columbians laugh at us a lot. But if you are able to draw a sweet portrait that both pokes fun and is just a nice thing to do, why not?”


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