“I think it’s long overdue,” he told reporters recently, smiling behind his whiskers.
Sporting a beard since he was an 18-year-old law student at McGill University in Montreal, the left-leaning Mulcair is bucking a Canadian trend that has long been entrenched in the political field: very few politicians opt for facial hair, and leaders of this country have been clean-shaven since 1896, when the bearded Mackenzie Bowell left office.
His beard became so poplar when he started to gain popularity that a Twitter handle dedicated to his beard.
We all know facial hair can be polarizing, whether it’s your husband suddenly growing out that facial furriness or seeing your father for the first time stroking a Gandalf-like beard. It can be attractive or ugly. And speaking of the latter, many haters point to a study that found facial hair can act as “bacterial sponges.”
Look at how many Twitter users are reacting to Mulcair’s beard:
After tonight's debate, my vote goes to Tom Mulcair’s beard. En pointe, sir! macdebate
— Sparkle Plenty (@sparkleplentys) August 7, 2015
I legitimately think Tom Mulcair’s beard is an electoral liability. Check out this (short) list of bearded leaders juCN1GeAGG
— Tristin Hopper (@TristinHopper) July 14, 2015
Not everyone is bashing Mulcair’s beard. Some see it as a positive:
The campaign is only a few days old, and Mulcair’s “campaign beard” is already far and away the best in the field. cdnpoli macdebate
— Nathan Smith (@nsmitham980) August 7, 2015
Mulcair needs to shave that beard. He’s one week away from looking homeless. bOGgrMR84Z
— Vito La Giorgia (@V_La_G) August 12, 2015
Going full beard as a public figure has become commonplace, thanks to the rise of the Hipster Era. We have also seen the growth of crumb-catchers of all shapes and styles, from the short pointy Van Dyke to the less well-maintained neck beard. Women have been known to be enamoured by a hip dude showing off a groomed beard. Portland might be the hotbed for these hipster beards, but I’ve noticed the trend surge across Canada and beyond (especially during my travel to London this summer).
Thing is, some of us don’t mind these facial toupees on our friends and spouses, but what about those who run our government. “What do beards have to do with governance, David?” you might be thinking. Not directly, sure, but consider how first impressions matter no matter the political stripe or position. Consider for a second how President Barack Obama or Prime Minister Stephen Harper might be regarded differently by visitors or delegates, by voters most importantly. Image is everything in politics, even though substance is truly what we should be judging our leaders on.
Digital Journal wanted to have some fun with Mulcair’s beard…by wiping it off his face. See below for a rendering of his face based on some Photoshopping:
Do you think Mulcair will be regarded differently, whether positively or negatively, if he did away with his chin curtain? Would he be more attractive and professional to voters, or would younger Canadians decry yet another politician towing the party line and looking like every other older white male vying for the highest office in the country?
We want to know what YOU think! Share with us your opinion and reactions in the Comments section below.