Shortly after kicking off an 11-week campaign on Sunday, Stephen Harper pointedly proclaimed that "a national election is not a popularity contest."
The remark was almost immediately interpreted as a dig at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
Hours after Harper's speech, a British Columbia photographer snapped the kind of shot that may help explain what the Tory leader was getting at.
On Sunday, R. Jeanette Martin — who goes by Shutterjet on Twitter — captured an apparent Trudeau supporter jumping into the Liberal leader's arms during the Vancouver Pride Parade.
On Facebook, Martin shared a few more photos of Trudeau's exchange with the young woman and her friends.
"Life is rough if you're Justin Trudeau," she wrote. "One day you're just innocently walking through the Vancouver Pride parade when suddenly there's a sneak jump attack by not one, not two, but three, THREE beautiful women who clearly think you're a rock star. Oh to be Justin Trudeau."
Trudeau's decision to attend the parade Sunday, despite knowing Stephen Harper was set to call an election, meant that the Liberal leader was on an airplane and unavailable for comment when the campaign officially launched.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair cancelled his planned visit to Vancouver so that he could respond to the election call at a press conference in Gatineau, Que., with Parliament Hill in the distance.
At his launch in B.C., several hours later, Trudeau said he had no regrets about being the last leader to officially join the fray.
"I made a promise to the half a million British Columbians who will be celebrating Pride this afternoon, celebrating Canada's diversity," he said. "And I'll tell you something, no one’s going to get me to break my word, particularly not Stephen Harper."
Trudeau's spontaneous embrace also appears to contrast with how Harper — the "no surprises leader" — plans to campaign for the next 11 weeks.
Last week, Buzzfeed Canada reported that only invited guests who have been vetted by Conservative staffers will be allowed to attend Harper's rallies.
On Sunday, about 50 anti-Harper protesters demonstrated outside a Montreal hall where the Tory leader kicked off his re-election bid. Before Harper could take the podium, a female protester who entered the building was tackled and ushered away as she screamed that the Tory leader was a "dictator."
Outside, the protesters slapped anti-Harper stickers on the Conservative campaign bus. One man was also arrested for uttering threats.
With files from The Canadian Press
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