So, I submitted this article to The Globe and Mail and they agreed to take it. I was so surprised and excited, because it would mean my thoughts on the Harper government would be heard–with some humour sliced in there for fun. But the editor who took my piece failed to mention they were going to edit the fek out of it, taking out the parts that I am most happy with (i.e. the political stuff!), and the parts that make this thing an argument! It’s my own fault. I expect nothing more from The Globe, but it still saddened me.
I’m totally cool with people not wanting to hear my satirical take on the upcoming election. I’m even fine with the Globe and Mail wanting to sell more papers, and even changing my title. I’m fine with the hundreds of comments calling for my head because they presume I’m something I’m not. That’s all par for the course. But what saddens me is that the paragraphs I wrote, the ones that made the argument that no one cares about Mulcair’s beard except the people who care enough not to vote for him because of it, were left out; that Stephen Harper has got to go; that he’s terrifying and a human rights monster; that we need to get him out in any way we can, and if that means Mulcair shaves his flipping beard, so be it.
So here’s what I wrote, word for word, if anyone wants a laugh and a bit of a howl!
Is Canada Ready For a Bearded Man?
I am an NDP Prince Edward Islander. The island is very much a two-party province that switches from Liberal to
Conservative in the same way our farmers rotate their crops. The NDP voter is treated like a curious butterfly: pretty to look at, but dead within days of their birth only to find themselves pinned to some child’s school project. But the times are a changing and pigs are flying. ‘Anyone But Harper’ campaigns are cropping up in once largely Conservative towns, and a member of the Green Party was recently elected on PEI. More importantly, my Liberal voting father and I finally agree on two key political points: Canada is in need of a government change. And Thomas Mulcair needs to get rid of his beard.
In the western world, there is an axiom in politics about facial hair that goes something like this: if you have a beard, you will not be elected. It’s more than a superstition; it’s a fact. In the history of Canadian politics, only two Prime Ministers had beards—Alexander Mackenzie in 1873, and MacKenzie Bowell in 1894. However, neither were elected by the people; they were both appointed Prime Minister only after resignations and deaths. Similar hairless track records plague the US and the UK, and it’s not simply beards that get unwanted attention. Stephen Harper has used Justin Trudeau’s luscious locks as a means to suggest that while the young man has “nice hair,” he is clearly too baby-faced to take on the grown-up issues. Following suit, the Liberals have released a video that pokes fun at the Prime Minister’s obsession with Trudeau’s hair, but this public dispute raises real questions about the seriousness of voters’ inclinations towards facial profiling.
The hipster may be here to stay, but the fact remains that many people don’t trust men with beards to run countries. Why? There are a plethora of reasons, some which are so negative and discriminatory that I won’t even give them value by mentioning them. Those who actually believe horrible stereotypes about minority groups and overgrown facial hair surely won’t be voting NDP anyway. Likewise, the stalwart NDP voter is generally someone who dismisses ludicrous excuses for hatred and ignorance. I’m speaking here to the fence-sitter who usually votes Liberal, but who is considering voting NDP in October in order to unseat Stephen Harper. This voter is who we need to pay more attention to.
Some feminists have admitted that they see a white man with a beard and immediately think he is aggressive or sexist. Other voters have argued they find beards untidy or lazy, or that they immediately think about hippies, free love, and communism. Liberal voters might trust bearded men to chop wood, write screenplays, and play in bands, but making decisions about wars and national economic programs are tasks they believe are best left in the hands of the cleanly shaved. Is this reasoning warranted? No, of course not, but really is now the time to try and fight that battle?
The reality of the situation is that Stephen Harper has delivered the worst economy Canadians have seen in 69 years. His oppression of Indigenous people has been devastating for both urban and on-reserve communities. His own government has been plagued with scandals and lies, and he seems unable to take any form of responsibility, which makes him either incompetent or untrustworthy. We NDP (and many Liberal voters) are ready for a positive change.
I’m not saying Mr. Mulcair should believe that he has to shave in order to be a good Prime Minister. A beard shouldn’t say anything about a person’s abilities to lead. But for me, Mr. Mulcair becoming the first bearded man in office is not the sort of celebratory win for a minority group that I as a voter am hoping for. There are much bigger concerns out there that need his attention. So, why gamble? Mr. Mulcair, please play the odds and cut the beard. You can always grow your hair back, but not your country.
I’m pretty certain, Mr. Mulcair is wearing a beard to appear older and wiser and connected to the working man. The older part is true. The wiser and connected to working men is a false image–he comes from OLD STOCK Quebec family with statues in honour of his deceased relatives and he has a fluid allegiance to anyone or party that will advance his own personal interests. While in provincial politics, Mulcair attempted to sell Canada’s water! OMG!
Mulcair makes promises he knows he cannot keep; twop examples are, C51 and the Senate.
Trudeau made changes to C51 before he voted for it and he promises to MAKE CHANGES, when he becomes the Prime Minister. Mulcair knew he would not be able to do anything more than MAKE CHANGES if he became Prime Minister. In fact, Mulcair has promised to beef up the police force. Why? Partially because he knows more police will be needed to enforce C51.
Mulcair will attempt to do what the CPC wanted to do: try to eliminate the Senate.This is a total waste of money and will take a very long time, likely longer than the rule of the NDP because it would take, as Trudeau pointed out in debate, constitutional amendments that are dependent upon the provinces. Trudeau has already made changes to the way Liberal Senators operate and it did not take an era: Liberals sit independently and are not instructed how to vote by the PMO.
Mulcair continues to pander to those who he believes will not be paying much attention to these types of constitutional details and by wearing a beard he is basically appealing to those who see beards as worn by trustworthy, old, working class grandfatherly types. Mulcair, as I said above, did not come from working class stock.
I am ready to turf these old stereotypes and bring in some fresh new ideas such as allowing MPs to speak and a PM that will not rule from the top down.Trudeau has a team of independent thinkers that have been told that independent thinking is an asset. Hope and trust in making Canada less racist and more friendly, collaboration and fresh spending to bring us out of the long standing recession of the Harper years, all of this sounds pretty good to me.
Mulcair’s conservative leanings are most apparent in his promises to create more austerity in order to balance the budget. Mulcair is a wannabe CPC but couldn’t get the power he wanted so he took over the NDP in their time of weakness. Mulcair is not another Tommy Douglas by any stretch of anyone’s imagination.
I have voted NDP in the past. Why? Because I was born into “stone sucking poverty” and up until Mulcair’s take over, I believed that the NDP was a party that would work for the poor and working class. During the Peter Mainsbridge discussion with Trudeau, Mainsbridge said, “It seems that you are more left than the NDP in this election.” To which Trudeau said, I do not see myself as either.
I will vote for Trudeau because he is not afraid. He is what he is. And, on top of everything, Trudeau is not pretending to be a working class guy by wearing a scruffy beard. Trudeau wants a new and fresh approach with the guiding principle of making Canada better. The other two are obviously protecting their old, conservative philosophy and ways. This article about Mulcair’s beard appears t to have missed this aspect of the Mulcair Deception.
Matuga LL. B.
Advocate for the Wrongly Convicted and Lengthily Detained in Canada’s Prisons and Jails
Dear Matuga, I really love your points here. I think you are 100% right to vote for Trudeau if he’s the person you think can do the job. I am very frustrated with Mulcair at this point as well, but I also wanted to make the point that if he is the one who is in a position to beat Harper, than let’s make it happen. Canada cannot afford another Harper term. I just hope the vote splitting doesn’t hurt us all. I am not convinced on Trudeau. Having met him, and working for as many NGO and Indigenous organizations as I have, I really want to support someone who gets it. Trudeau had no clue about the key issues our community was struggling through when he came through town campaigning. He spoke at our organization. He also endorsed a woman who was so privileged and right wing, and ignorant to issues of poverty and racism, it was horrible. The NDP candidate truly did understand what was happening in our urban space and was smart enough to talk about what needs to occur. So, for this election I will vote NDP. But I take your points and greatly appreciate them. Mulcair is not perfect. In fact, he is pulling way towards the centre. But I’ve seen nothing from the Liberals to suggest they have any ability to do make the big changes we need. It might be time for an NDP rule, if not just to invite new opinions to the table. Thank you so much for the note and take care, and for reading the blog version. And I also respect what you do so much. Thank you for that as well.
Thank you for your response. I believe that the NDP are the only party to beat the Cons in BC so of course I hope they win in BC no matter who the leader is. I am not a blind party person. I feel grateful and privileged to have this wonderful education at my age and I do hope that whomever wins the election they are done with austerity because austerity is really just a way to make the corporations more and more powerful at the expense of everyone else. The wealthy, throughout history has sent poor, YOUNG men and now, women into wars to protect their own interests and be able to sell more and more arms. Hopefully, this will end someday but poor people will have to be able to see through falsely projected images (which I see as lies). ABC! Matuga
I couldn’t agree more. On many of the issues I’m a Green Party voter it seems. I too hope the NDP take BC as they’re poised to do in NS. And yes, austerity has got to go. That picture of Trudeau hugging Stephen Harper really did it for me as well, and the lack of strong support for peace versus these war on terror pledges that are ridiculous. I think that whomever beats Harper will have a chance for change. If it’s the Liberals I hope they do something great this time. If it’s the NDP I hope they learn from mistakes of the past and are given space to make actual changes happen. That’s the hard part I think for any new leader…undoing the disastrous inheritance from before! Thanks for this talk! Very nice to hear from you. >
Today, Mulcair joined Harper in blasting Trudeau for saying he will not purchase the overly pricey fighter jets.
Today, a new long-term study was released stating that the Mulcair Quebec-Model Childcare Plan is deeply flawed.
I do not think Mulcair is ready.
For REAL CHANGE I will vote for Trudeau, in my riding and having said that, I’d rather the Greens or NDP win than HARPER CPC’s.
Thank you for engaging in this discussion,
This is all about image, right? not really about the depths of the person. Attack ads too are about superficialities. As a guy who grows a beard every year to ward off the cold, i can’t help noticing that people see me differently with and without facial hair. WITH Beard? i seem a bit scarier especially when placing orders. I feel i need to be careful and to smile broadly lest i scare someone with the macho-ness, my crabby craggy edges. WITHOUT a beard? babyface. child. wimp. OKAY maybe i am exaggerating just a bit. But the beard hides the extra skin flapping away under my chin like lizard flesh, and plasters a wise veneer over an otherwise vacant expression. Poof: Instant wisdom!
As a member of the brotherhood of the hairy face i feel a bit weird about Mulcair. I remember –as a child who came of age in the 1960s and 70s– when short hair and clean-shaven were equated with the establishment and conservatism, and when growing longer hair (haha even as long as stephen harper, except maybe not plastered down so stiffly) were marks of rebellion.
Mr Mulcair made what he thought was a clever rebuttal the other night in one of the debates Trudeau had said something about smoke in his critique of Mulcair’s economic plan, and the reply was “well you know all about that, Justin”. Sorry i heard the voice of Mr Harper, an attacker, not a visionary. (NB I want marijuana legalized). I don’t want some old fart masquerading as a youth (and i am older than him actually… but old is a state of mind isn’t it), pretending to be cool with his facial hair, while he ridicules people who smoke up. Not cool Tom.
As a guy who wears a beard I think Mr Mulcair shouldn’t go changing to try and please me (or anyone else). He’s not a bad guy and i would be thrilled –as a strategic voter– if he + Justin displace Harper. I prefer Justin to Tom, but they’re both okay. Is it the beard that has me and others wondering who he really is? it is as plain as the hair on his face, or in other words, these are all superficialities. It doesnt matter who has “nice hair”. I would be grateful if the candidates would stick to the issues, try for once to be collegial or at least parliamentary.
And thank goodness somebody has a sense of humour. Thanks for your shot in the arm, for those of us with election fatigue.
I like your comment. I see you have a blog. I will visit it.
I love this article, and knowing that the globe had to censored it only makes it better. I love the satire and like any great joke, there is always a element of truth.
Thanks lovely person.
I had to actually think about whether or not he has a beard and I have a big NDP sign in my yard. Am I a true NDP voter? Well, yes and no. Voting NDP is what I was taught from a young age. Working blue collar parents. Union? Yes! Now I am a blue collar worker. Union? Yes. Thank god because they are disappearing. But do I really want to vote for the NDP? Not really. I met Elizabeth May. Not only met her but sat down and had a long conversation with her. At the time I was a single parent working in a low paying job and barely able to bread. She listened to me. I have been around for long enough to know when I am being patronized and when someone is actually interested in what I have to say. I want to vote Green. But I can’t because I am living in BC and I can’t risk throwing my vote away on Mark McDonald/Stephen Harper. We can’t live a minute longer under the autocratic Harper.
So I will keep my orange sign in my front yard. My mom can rest and won’t have to spin in her grave with the knowledge I voted Orany. I will tick off NDP on October 19. But I can’t help thinking it would be nice to have a Prime Minister that is unable to grow any facial hair at all. Sorry, Elizabeth. Maybe next time.
This is great and I totally agree with you. I would LOVE to see Elizabeth May as Prime Minister. She is the smartest one of the bunch, and also compassionate, savvy and gutsy. 🙂
First, sorry for the typos in my comment. I was typing on my iPod. 😉
Elizabeth would indeed make an excellent leader. I would say we need a woman in office but we have Christy Clark here in BC and look how that is turning out. In the end, anyone but Harper. And dear god, what if Donald Trump is elected president?
Oh my, don’t even think it! Trump would be the ruin.