Does this jacket go with these lies? -

Does this jacket go with these lies?

In this column from the archives, here is Scott Feschuk on campaigns, stylists and hair-dos

Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon and Richard Redditt

Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon and Richard Redditt

Update Aug. 22, 2015: A top story on our site today thanks to Margaret Atwood and hair gate.

Scott Feschuk, 2010: As word now arrives that the travel expenses of Mr. Bubble’s personal psychic stylist have been paid not by the Conservative party but by taxpayers, I invite you to journey back in time to this column of mine from three years ago: May 7, 2007.

Canadian politics has a rich tradition of believers in the outlandish. Mackenzie King sought spiritual guidance from his dead dog. Aline Chrétien wrote a testimonial letter for Montreal medium JoJo Savard. And Peter MacKay actually thought Condoleezza Rice was hot for him.

But none of this prepared Ottawa for revelations that Stephen Harper employs a personal stylist who claims to be endowed with sufficient psychic power to commune with angels, bring back news of the dead and, presumably, straighten God’s tie before his annual State of Heaven address.

According to friends, Michelle Muntean doesn’t just have a steady hand with the eyeliner. She also has the uncanny ability to tell people incredibly insightful things about themselves. For instance, I bet she told the Prime Minister that hauling a primper and her lint roller all the way to France just to mousse his hair and gloss his lips would make him seem like a complete doofus. She’s eerily perceptive that way.

Now sure — you could make the argument that Canada is better off with Stephen Harper having abdicated the onerous task of dressing himself. Left on his own, the man is to sartorial elegance what napalm is to shrubbery. Years ago, he and I met for a business lunch. I showed up in a suit. He showed up in a green flannel shirt and olive corduroys (the worst part: it was a good six blocks to the closest emergency eyewash station).

More recently, Harper went to Mexico in a fishing vest and stood in front of TV cameras in a snug golf shirt that hugged his contours in a manner so loving and intimate that it would have been the hottest thing ever if only he were Charlize Theron. And of course none of us have forgotten, notwithstanding pricey therapy and the repeated blows to the head that I was sure would do the trick, the Village People homage that passed for his Calgary Stampede getup.

So fine: who says a populist can’t hire a professional to lay out his jammies? But Harper has been unwilling to discuss the details of his groomer’s compensation. Reportedly, while travelling in the prime ministerial entourage, Muntean has her expenses reimbursed by the Conservative party — and believe me, the costs really add up when you exist on multiple planes of reality! Gruff, old-school Reformers already irked by Harper’s spendthrift ways may want to avoid opening the next Conservative fundraising letter: “Donate NOW!! Help Buy Stephen Harper a New Aura!”

But Muntean’s salary is covered by taxpayers — and neither Harper nor his minions will reveal how much she’s paid. (Let’s try ourselves: psychics typically earn $3.95/minute while I can rake in as much as $1.35/hour brushing dandruff from the suit jackets of passing businessmen downtown — so I’d wager her compensation falls somewhere in between.)

For their part, New Democrats have submitted a formal request to Parliament in which they ask such queries as: how much does the psychic earn? What is her official title? And will it be splitsville for J. Lo and Marc Anthony? If the government fails to respond within 45 days, procedure dictates that the matter be referred to a joint committee of the House of Commons and Entertainment Tonight.

Whatever the sum, Harper’s silence has prompted commentators to remind Canadians that this very same Stephen Harper pledged to deliver real accountability as Prime Minister. “You want to know that your tax dollars — money you’ve worked for — are being spent properly or wisely,” he said during the campaign. (Though, to be fair, the crowd was pretty noisy and it’s entirely possible that Harper added under his breath. “Or on a clairvoyant who combs my hair for me.”)

That said, political insiders point to an important subtlety in Harper’s promise. The accountability pledge was made before election day, they note. And now it is after election day — and Harper totally won and everything, so clean slate, right? I mean, he also promised never to appoint a senator to cabinet and never to tax income trusts and to never spend wildly at budget time and to create 250,000 new child care spaces and … well, let’s just say it’s fatiguing to think about the amount of effort it would take to do the opposite of all that.

Initially, Harper’s people seemed rather testy about the whole psychic thing. His chief spokesperson, Sandra Buckler, a woman who usually displays the charm and courtesy of a wounded puma, was irritated enough to behave in the manner of a wounded puma getting hounded by telemarketers at dinnertime. “[Muntean] is very helpful,” she sniffed. “She carries the bags. She opens the door.” Yes: the door to alternate realities.

But then the Harperites abruptly changed course. His cabinet ministers and even Harper himself began to make light of it. The Prime Minister said global warming opponents need not have gathered last weekend for a protest — they could instead have sent their opinions along via medium. It was a lame joke poorly told, but revealing. Given the choice, Harper would rather we think he’s a flake than a hypocrite. Increasingly, Canadians are figuring out that he just might be both.

Filed under:

Does this jacket go with these lies?

  1. Scott you break me up every time.

    • ok, which one of us was here first?

  2. A very quick response to the memory-challenged commentor who accused you of picking on their boy Michael and ignoring Harper.

    • Wait til you see how quickly i react when I finally get hard proof that Layton's moustache is groomed by a mind-reader.

      • It may be of note that I don't believe we have ever seen Layton's moustache and Ignatieff's eyebrows in the same room at the same time.

      • You could also follow up on the rumor that Layton's mind may be groomed by a mustache-reader.

        • I'm working hard here to make "moustached" a verb, but it just ain''t happening.

      • It's hard to get the actual proof, because it's done telekinetically, with the medium all the way in his home riding.

      • Is it a porn star moustache Scott?

    • Now, now – I'm not memory challenged at all. I love this stuff and just want more of about all the leaders. I guess people misunderstood what I meant.

      I think Scott is a hoot. God knows we need some humour in our politics.

  3. So I guess the whole point of this post by SF is to convince us that Stephen Harper is a careless spendthrift.
    Well let`s look at his lifestyle to see if that theory stands up:
    Unlike Brian, I wouldn`t think there`s much Gucci in his closet.
    Laureen seems to be have a simpler lifestyle then Mila.
    Unlike Jean there is no hint that he makes sure his friends are taken care off.
    He would rather stay home and watch the hockey game with his kids then attend the galas.

    No, better go back, talk it over with your business partner and come up with a new plan.

    • No one is saying he carelessly spends his own</> money…

    • Hmm, I don't think anyone is perturbed by SH's personal grooming choices, or that he doesn't eat nightly a caviar-encrusted arugula fajita while wearing marmot-skin sneakers. It's fine that he wants to be an "everyman." I think what people object to are hypocritical statements, i.e. not letting the taxpayers know where their money is being spent whilst casting himself as the PM who is all about gov't accountability and transparency. If Conservative funds are used to pay for a psychic, or a DJ for the PMO, or an in-house artist who sculpts things out of bitumen oil, I don't mind/care. But when I'm footing part of the bill, I think I have a right to know.

    • was THAT the whole point? I feel dumb now for thinking the point was that Harper is a liar.

      • Well we've known that since '06, Scott.. so you can see why common must have thought you had some other point in mind.

      • Sorry, I kinda skimmed over the last part where you said Harper is a liar…..well you didn`t really say Harper is a liar, you just implied Harper is a liar, but it`s pretty easy to assume you meant Harper is a liar.
        You know, you humourist guys sure do have some fun.

        • You apparently missed the first part too.. You know, the title and opening paragraph.

          Did you actually read any of it?

          • Go away Gilbert.

      • Harperliar has a catchy ring to it.

    • There is no 'hint' that Steve wears make-up. He looks like a cheap w. And we know that he likes to have us pay for his tv appearances on FOX and his din-dins with US right-wingers.

      What still really puzzles me however is, why he would insist to have a west-facing locomotive for a photo-op, forcing GO transit to take over to the VIA yards to turn it around?

      Maybe Muntean saw something in her crystal ball to the effect that Harper should only have his picture taken with objects facing West?

      Read more:

    • Hey, Harper gave PEI $200,000 to have Regis and Kelly do a show there. And, they'll tell all in PEI for $200,000 how wonderful the people of PEI are and how much they love$$$ PEI

    • Uh, he does to galas the musical photo-ops

  4. I think this is overblown. Most leaders have personal assistants who help them with their wardrobe and whatnot.

    Just count your blessings that Nazim Gillani didn't supply Harper with a makeup artist from one of his, let's call it, businesses.

    • It's true. Stephen Harper is styled by a professional TV makeup artist of such transcendent skill that, even today, few Canadians are aware that Lloyd Robertson is actually 243 years old. And a werewolf. Whereas Paul Martin was styled by his assistant Jim, who sometimes remembered to bring a comb.

      • Come on, Scott, your old boss had his fare share of makeup on. But seriously, do you believe that GG Michaelle Jean, Barack Obama, Nicholas Sarkozy, et al don't have at least one person in their entourage charged with applying gel and related matters?

        We don't want our leaders to look goofy on the world stage, because if they did you'd be the first to laugh at him. I'm sure Iggy, were he to ever become PM, will have an assistant — probably Layton if the coalition thing works out — to groom his eyebrows everyday.

        • If he doesn't want to look goofy perhaps Harper should give up on the constant lipliner.

          • Get makeup, pour on the hair gel. Let them dress you and do up your fly. Just don't ask me to pay for it. So-called leaders have been capably doing the above without more than their spouse's and other assistants' support for a long, long time.
            Harper – a hypocritical 4 dressed up as a 4.6.

          • Harper's a diva – I think the male word for it is divo

          • Stevo the Divo?

  5. Scott, no one will ever accuse you of being impartial.

    perhaps you should mention the name of your business associates, and indicate WHY you would like the Liberals to form Government at the earliest opportunity.
    You can deny it all you want, but the reality is, you expect to make some pretty serious $$ if the Liberals regain office. Until Harper is gone, you have to make due with the pittance you receive for substandard writing.
    In a way, you look like Paul Wells, but lack his talent.

    • Just be thankful he is not whining about Mike Duffy's wait, and trying to crack the same lame jokes. But then again scotty will always be a reminder to how useless Paul Martin and "the Board" was(has there ever been a more epic failure then that crew?).

      • a fair question. i'd say my 2 Live Crew cover band is right up there.

        • I thought my comparison of your looks to Paul Wells would be more traumatic.

          Your Liberal ties and bias are not news…….so I knew that wouldn't upset you.

          • Geez, and some are accusing me of lacking humour and complaining about fairness.

        • How dare you invoke 2 live crew..

          Listen, beside the cheap shots, I love your post. In the 06 election you had a awesome blog. Your really like Diddy, you did not invent the remix. But the blog ya, you can take credit for that.

          Hating aside your a good writer scott, but lay of the fat jokes dude..

          • "Listen, beside the cheap shots"

            There should be a (by me)..

      • Why should he not complain about that? Duffy was 2 hours late! That's a long time to stand around waiting for someone.

  6. Is Whitney Sellors still doing ignatieff's makeup and hair?
    Are taxpayers picking up the tab?
    If only they would let Ms Sheila in for that audit, eh!


    • No, everyone knows the reincarnation of Jim Henson does it for free.

    • LMAO, oh wilson. It only counts when it is a conservative. And you have to remeber who scotty use to work for, looking at succes only reminds people of there own failure.

      • Wait, who's the "success" here? The stylist? The PM? Psychic hotlines? Peter MacKay (for every blessed second the media talks about anything other than how useless he is)?

        They didn't succeed in killing the "The PM has a psychic stylist" story; they didn't succeed in covering up that she was paid for by taxpayers for times during which the party was insisting that they were footing the bill; and, so far as I can tell, they've failed in any substantial way to turn this woman's knowledge of the future into a real advantage.

        Feschuk may be driven to jealousy by someone else's success, I'm just having a hard time finding a "success" here for him to be jealous about. I suppose, in that she's still presumably getting paid God knows what by God know whom, the the stylist has "succeeded" in this story, but come on. She's got supernatural powers for Pete's sake. OF COURSE she's going to succeed. Feschuk has no more reason to be "jealous" of this stylist's ability to keep her payments and who made them a secret than he does to be jealous of Superman defeating Lex Luther. Sure, Scott may be jealous that he can't leap over tall buildings in a single bound, or shoot laser beams from his eyes, but I doubt he lets this effect his writing.

        If you are jealous Mr. Feschuk, chin up. Those of us without supernatural abilities can't be expected to compete with those gifted with special powers. We should just mind our business, go about our work, and pray that they continue to use their powers for nearly impossible benevolent tasks, like making the PM appear human, as opposed to nearly impossible malevolent tasks like building a giant laser beam on the moon to destroy the planet.

        • Too bad, Sylvia Brown has retired – she could work for Scott

        • Dude thanks for the essay..

          To get a life press enter. FOH..

      • Yup, this post is a write off.

        Sorry scott lame post..

  7. You know, I don't really care whether Harper puts a psychic hairstylist on his payroll on the taxpayer's dime. It's a drop in the bucket, and it's probably worthwhile to have Our Leader looking his best when facing other world leaders. Otherwise, What Would People Think?

    The only things that bother me about this are: it's more likely that the stylist is making Harper look good for his partisan politicking; the Conservatives' reluctance to part with information on the subject.

  8. Wow. it's a Feschuk Clip Show!

  9. What do Harper's supporters in the religious right think of him consulting an occultist?

    • I'd bet that "Our conservative PM has a stylist who's a psychic" doesn't even make the top 50 list of "examples of cognitive dissonance that members of the religious right have to struggle with daily".

  10. I'm more religious than right, and even though I disagree morally with psychics, I think it would be wrong for any government employee to be hired or fired on that basis.
    And I don't thing there's any problem with having an official stylist, as long as the services provided are for public, government functions only.
    I terms of salary, I think that commensurate with compensation for the private sector is appropriate, but finding that in any civil service is not likely.

    • I would hope he doesn't wear make-up in private. Maybe just a little blush and lip gloss, which he can easily do himself. So, I'm sure she's only being paid for public appearances.

  11. "My ex-boss and former meal-ticket was nicknamed Mr Dithers and I will get back at them all by lamely trying to stick a moniker on that nasty liar Harper."

    • Hah! Reverse psychology by a nimrod. Of course, fabricating 'they did it so we can do it too' items for the con talking points is so John Howard of you… It's Rudd now.

  12. See, Scott – the Cons have no sense of humour

  13. Some here will always enjoy SF`s humour because he`s a Liberal speechwriter.
    And the rest of us only laugh when he`s funny ( which is most of the time, but not this time )

  14. "Mr. Bubble" – I like that. When I see large photos of Harper's face, I always think of claymation for some reason – he just doesn't look real. I wish someone would do some Toy/Shrek-style animation on him and John Baird. Their faces are quite fat, and would be a delight for a 3-D caricaturist.