Even if you've paid only scant attention to the federal election, you've likely seen a picture of Catherine Clark.
The permanently smiling, 24-year-old daughter of Progressive Conservative Leader Joe Clark has undoubtedly been the most-photographed figure in this campaign who never donned a wet suit or picked up a hammer for a photo-op.
Single-handedly, she has focused media attention on her father's party, especially early in the campaign when it was desperately in need of any kind of boost. While Ms. Clark has been the campaign's unexpected star, Mr. Clark isn't the only party leader who brought his offspring on the trail.
Logan Day, son of Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day, and France Desmarais, daughter of Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien, have participated in the campaign since the day the writ was dropped.
And this week, in what looks to be an attempt to borrow a page from the Tory handbook, New Democratic Party Leader Alexa McDonough's sons, Travis and Justin, began making appearances.
The odd phenomenon is just one small part of what University of Western Ontario politics and media professor Michael Nolan calls "a very trivialized election."
At one point, stories about Ms. Clark's wardrobe fought for space in newspapers with stories about Ms. Desmarais' husband (André Desmarais, president of Power Corp.) and what kind of influence that carries in the Prime Minister's Office.
Logan Day: Unlike Ms. Clark and the McDonough brothers, Mr. Day the younger is rarely seen in photo ops. Indeed, rather than follow his father around, he preceded him to Ottawa. While Stockwell Day was serving as a cabinet minister in Ralph Klein's Alberta government, Logan Day was a researcher in the federal capital for Reform MP Cliff Breitkreuz. The 28-year-old was one of the key organizers behind his father's successful drive for the Canadian Alliance leadership.
In this campaign, he's preceding his father once more, working on the advance team, which goes ahead of the leader to make sure everything goes according to plan.
As one observer put it, of all the leaders' sons and daughters who have played a role in this campaign, Logan Day is the only one doing a job that his father would have to hire someone else to do.
He has a reputation as something of a parliamentary bad boy, something he's toned down substantially since his father's arrival in Ottawa. House of Commons Speaker Gib Parent once banned him from the central lobby of the House for a year after he tried to drape a Canadian flag over the shoulders of Bloc Québécois MP Suzanne Tremblay while she was being interviewed on television.
His two brothers do a better job of shunning the spotlight. Ben, 24, and Luke, 26, are the family's non-politicians.
Catherine Clark: To hear Ms. Clark tell it, she has no idea what the fuss is about. She's just along on the campaign to give her dad some company and advice, and is almost surprised that so many people want to take her picture.
In person, Ms. Clark is charming and intelligent, but her thoughts on policy aren't what get the cameras clicking, and the Tories are fully aware of that. The Sun newspaper chain has been running a daily "Catherine watch," detailing what she wears and analyzing the statement her clothing supposedly makes. The tabloid's Web site offers a "Catherine Clark gallery," featuring pictures of the eye-catching blonde at political events.
The only child of Mr. Clark and Maureen McTeer, her presence serves another political purpose as well. Having Ms. Clark, an art history grad who is taking a leave from her public relations job to campaign with her father, has allowed the party, and her father, to remake their image from yesterday's man and party to one that's more connected with today's youth.
"There's no question about it, the PC party had to look like a much younger party. Just having Ms. Clark there has enhanced Mr. Clark's image," said Prof. Nolan, who wrote a book on Mr. Clark before the Tory leader's brief stint as prime minister in 1979. "She's very luminous. . . . It's impossible to assess how much she helped them, but she certainly didn't hurt them."
On the campaign trail, Mr. Clark takes a moment at the beginning of each stump speech to acknowledge his daughter's presence, a gesture that usually gets one of the evening's biggest cheers.
France Desmarais: Ms. Desmarais, or rather the man she married, suddenly became an issue in this campaign when Mr. Day claimed democracy in the country had been corrupted because all the key decisions were being made by her father, Mr. Chrétien, and the "power corporation" within his office.
While Mr. Day later denied that he intended to refer to Power Corp., a Montreal-based conglomerate that is one of Canada's biggest companies, the comment shrewdly drew attention to the fact that Ms. Desmarais' husband, André, is the company's president, and her father-in-law, Paul, its chairman.
Mr. Chrétien, for his part, took offence at Mr. Day's remarks and said he is proud of his family connection to Mr. Desmarais. "My daughter has been married to Mr. Desmarais for a very long time and she is the mother of my four grandchildren," he said.
Ms. Desmarais has been travelling with the Liberal Leader through much of the campaign, but has played no public role. While many speculate that she's on the trail largely to keep her mother, Aline Chrétien, company, Mr. Chrétien tells it differently. He says his wife and daughter are early risers who wake up in the morning before he does and read over the morning newspapers.
"By nine o'clock, I have my whole day planned out for me," he once told reporters following him on the campaign.
Justin and Travis McDonough: Alexa McDonough almost seemed to be trying to steal a page from Mr. Clark's book when she suddenly trotted her two attractive sons out on the campaign trail.
"They're hot," was the simple answer one NDP campaign worker gave for the brothers' sudden involvement in the last weeks.
Travis McDonough, 29, a chiropractor who lives in Ireland, and Justin McDonough, 30, a Halifax-based financial planner, appear to be Ms. McDonough's last-ditch attempt to capture a little of the energy Ms. Clark gave the Tories.
"This is obviously an appeal to the youth vote," Prof. Nolan said, with the NDP needing to use any tool it can.