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.