April 4, 2020

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Opinion

Whiskered ways take one on the chin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to media Tuesday in Winnipeg. (Mike Sudoma / Canadian Press files)</p></p></p>

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to media Tuesday in Winnipeg. (Mike Sudoma / Canadian Press files)

Before we get to today’s important topic, which happens to be Justin Trudeau’s facial hair, there’s an awesome charity event I need to tell you about.

On Friday evening at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre by Canad Inns, my good buddy Big Daddy Tazz will present the 19th annual Big Daddy Tazz & Friends comedy night in support of local charities.

"We’re going to make you laugh and forget about your life for two hours or longer," Tazz told me Monday afternoon as we stuffed ourselves with dim sum at a local Chinese restaurant.

"It’s a fantastic lineup of comedians. Every year I ask friends to come and help us raise money for the community. I get them to agree before I tell them it’s in January in Winnipeg," he said, laughing.

The all-star comics include Canadian comedy legend Kevin McDonald, Matt DiSero, Graham Chittenden, Cory Mack and Chad Anderson. Tickets are $30 at the door or through eventbrite.ca. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m.

The proceeds will go to support the CNIB, the Huntington Society, Rotary Club Winnipeg East AM, along with Tazz’s own anti-bullying initiatives.

Which somehow brings us to today’s burning journalistic topic, which, if I remember correctly from the first paragraph, is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new beard, which has been on prominent display in Winnipeg during the Liberals’ three-day cabinet retreat in the city.

Before we get started, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking: "Really, Doug? You are going to devote a column to the fact our boyishly charming prime minister returned from a recent holiday sporting a salt-and-pepper beard? Is that how low journalism has sunk in this great nation of ours?"

Well, allow me to say, and this comes from the heart, you don’t know what you are talking about. In some PBS-watching alternate universe, I’m sure columnists only focus on serious issues, such as mounting deficits, foreign relations and the upcoming Super Bowl.

In this universe, however, we in the media simply cannot find enough things to say — both positive and negative — about Trudeau’s new crop of chin whiskers. We are even more passionate about the PM’s beard than we were about his devotion to novelty socks, if you can imagine.

If you think I’m kidding, just do a Google news search for the word "beard" and you will come up with dozens and dozens and dozens of deeply analytical news reports and opinion pieces on Justin Trudeau and the politics of facial hair.

As far as I can tell from wasting several minutes online, I am one of the last columnists in this country to share my views on the fact that Trudeau is now the first prime minister in more than 100 years to rock a beard. The first — and until now only — PM to sport full facial hair before Trudeau was Sir Mackenzie Bowell, who led the country from Dec. 21, 1894 to April 27, 1896.

It is hard to say what Trudeau was thinking when he grew his beard. Was his goal to appear more hip and happening or was it to appear more distinguished and less feckless? Or just possibly he simply forgot to bring along a razor during his recent Costa Rican vacation.

The important thing is that we, as a nation, must decide for ourselves whether Trudeau’s beard is nothing more than a beard or whether our leader’s newly fuzzy face poses the sort of threat that can rip a nation apart.

It seems to depend on who you ask. The critical issue of the beard was raised over the weekend when I agreed to attend brunch with my wife’s family and no one could agree on whether the PM looked sexier with or without his new stubble.

Poll

What do you think about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new facial hair, the first full beard on a PM in over 100 years?

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"I think it looks really good on him," is how my wife, She Who Must Not Be Named, put it. "But then I’m partial to beards."

Chimed in my sister-in-law: "Ooh, no! I hate it. He looks like a hobo."

For what it’s worth, there is an actual "Prof or Hobo" online quiz wherein you, the person with too much time on your hands, can check out 10 different pictures of hirsute guys and guess whether they are professors or hobos.

At a journalistic meeting I just walked out of a few minutes ago, one of my colleagues politely explained his opposition to Trudeau’s facial follicles. "It looks like a chinstrap," he sniffed. "He should either grow a full beard or shave it off!"

Personally, my main reaction to Trudeau’s beard is one of intense envy. It annoys me that he is the kind of guy who can go on vacation for a couple of days and return with a full beard, whereas I have spent the better part of 40 years cultivating facial hair and the moustache part still does not connect with the beard part.

What the PM needs to know is that getting rid of a beard can be devastating to your loved ones. For instance, about 20 some odd years ago, at my brother’s wedding, a large group of friends got to talking about how they had never seen me without a beard, which led to an impromptu shaving party around 3 a.m. wherein all the guests, including the bride, took turns swilling champagne with one hand and shaving me with the other.

At the time, my wife was excited about seeing me beardless for the first time, but she took one look at my shaved mug and snorted: "Ewww, you can grow it back now. You look like a really chubby 12-year-old boy."

It was even worse when my then-six-year-old daughter stared bug-eyed at my naked face the next morning and tearfully howled: "I WANT MY DADDY BACK!"

All things considered, it’s none of our (bad word) business whether Justin Trudeau wants to rock a beard, because, from what I can see, it’s really starting to grow on him.

Feel free to email your beard-related thoughts to doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Doug Speirs

Doug Speirs
Columnist

Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.

Read full biography

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