“I just didn’t know if anybody would show up.” -Joe Flaherty
In recent weeks, the right honourable Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper has been getting a lot of flak in the media over a controversial issue he’s brought up on the campaign trail.
Harper has been facing mounting criticism for attempting to get cultural and/or religious headwear like the “niqab” banned from being worn in Canadian citizenship ceremonies. He’s been adamant that because this Muslim face covering has cultural ties with barbaric practices (pretty sure nothing barbaric has ever happened historically in connection to that gold lower-case “t” around people’s necks), you can’t swear allegiance to Canada, no matter how personal your choice or how non-barbarian you are.
But of the many that value democratic freedoms and are quick to point a finger and say “racist,” how many have dared point a finger at Harper and say “human”? Has anyone considered that maybe we’re hurling anger at a man suffering from a crippling head attire phobia who needs our support? Let’s get real here, guys–you don’t get to be Prime Minister by being a racist (he represents an entire country, not just the lawmakers of Quebec). It’s obvious to anyone that took most of a Trent University psychology 101 course that he just has an anxiety disorder triggered by face- and hat-wear that may or may not coincidentally be culturally diverse.
Meanwhile, countless critics are trying to bully him into honouring values like “inclusion” and “multi-culturalism,” instead of trying to understand his disorder and accommodate him. How? I don’t know… maybe surrounding him with old stock headwear, like knitted scarves and pilgrim hats or something. We won’t know until we *try*, guys.
Let’s take a moment to better understand why various cultural facial coverings are scary dragon-monsters to Harper by taking a look at the kinds of headwear that might leave him spooked:
This traditional Russian fur cap has ear flaps that can be raised or lowered, depending on the temperature and need for ear covering. Similar to a trappers cap, this hat might seem benign to the naked eye, but to someone suffering from Harper’s condition, they might see it as an undercover trained Russian Spy Beaver, using its maneuverable paws to try and cover the ears of its host. This sly trick would allow the hat-host to avoid actually hearing the details of their first Canadian oaths, and to move forward with the seeding of Russian sleeper cells through Putin’s hat monopoly. Not on Harper’s watch!
This particular Punjabi covering is a sign of self respect, honour, and piety in Sikh culture and is considered mandatory amongst baptized Sikh men. While it may be a unique, spiritual part of Sikh identity, consider Harper’s perspective for a moment. First off, it looks a little like those other things that Muslim folk tend to wear, and he already knows THAT stuff gives him the creeps. But more specifically, it often looks like an elaborate knot – what’s that knot holding together? What’s that guy hiding under there? If he wanted it to be easily opened, it’d be a bow knot, like on shoes, but clearly that’s not a bow knot. So it’s something the government is not supposed to see…best case scenario, it’s a baby or a surprise birthday gift, and Harper gets anxious about celebrating/being responsible for things. You’re out, Dastaar!
Dating back to the Ottoman empire in Eastern Europe, this short cylindrical hat has come in and out of vogue as a fashion choice, representing cultural modernity in the East, and those tiny-car loving Shriners in the West. But if you’re Harper, you see that little tassel on top and come to the only logical conclusion: whoever’s wearing that thing is a stripper. Sure, the tassel’s not on a nipple, but you can’t change a zebra’s stripes, so this zebra MUST be a stripper. Now, every Conservative knows that no law-abiding Canadian would ever *choose* this line of work, so this would-be citizen is either a victim of human trafficking or a prostitute-in-training that doesn’t deserve anyone’s pity. Either way, they’re icky and give the PM the willies, and they aren’t citizenship-ceremony material.
This piece of headwear has a rich North American history; it had humble beginnings in the late 1800s as finely knit women’s evening wear, and then was reborn in the mid-late 20th century with DiCaprio “Gatsby”-style cocktail hat fanciness. Well, Harper doesn’t “get” Gatsby. And Harper doesn’t like DiCaprio. And even though he can relate to people being in step with trends dating back over a century ago, why would they dress up like that for a Canadian citizenship ceremony? Why are there so many frills on that thing? Is there a reason they’re trying so hard to impress the government? Is it possible they’re time-travelers from the past trying to steal our cutting-edge Canadian jet technology? The whole thing is suspicious…different time/space culture suspicious. Harper is NOT fascinated by fascinators.
The Umbrella Hat
This novelty hat is claimed to have been invented by American Robert Patten while prospecting in Mexico during the 1890s. The mere possibility that an incoming citizen could be in league with Patten’s conquest and resource-hungry descendants is already enough reason for Harper to ban this one. But anyone that wears an umbrella indoors is sure to get red flagged, no matter how personal or covered with Canadian flag imagery it is. The last thing Harper needs is more bad luck.
There may never be a face covering or headwear accessory that soothes Stephen Harper’s frail, totally not-racist nerves when it comes to citizenship. But if it’ll give him a little peace of mind for future citizens to abandon their beliefs, expose their faces and give up free will momentarily to celebrate complete acceptance into Canada, then maybe it’s not so bad? Let’s just go with it, guys! After all, this is his legacy to bear, and if there’s one thing our Prime Minister will definitely be remembered for, it’s his complete and utter transparency.
Steve Hobbs is a Toronto-based actor/comedian/writer, trained in improv and sketch writing through Second City’s Conservatory and longform programs. He’s also a past senior editor/writer for The Beaverton satiric Canadian news magazine and is best known for his work at Toronto Fringe 2014 in sketch juggernaut “Everything is Fine,” as well as with ex-Impatient Theatre Co. headliners “El Fantoma.”