#hairgate just a snippet of a wacky campaign

An anti-NDP protester in front of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's supporters in Quebec this month. The Canadian federal election campaign has been far from dull, with lots of wacky moments for voters to delight in.
An anti-NDP protester in front of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's supporters in Quebec this month. The Canadian federal election campaign has been far from dull, with lots of wacky moments for voters to delight in.PHOTO: REUTERS

TORONTO • One candidate dropped out after a video emerged of him peeing into a cup, another hid in bushes to catch vandals defacing his signs, while a third slew a dragon in his campaign video.

It may have been one of the longest federal election campaigns in Canadian history, but it certainly has not been the dullest.

Canada has not lacked for political farce in recent years: The drunken antics of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who admitted to smoking crack cocaine, gave comedians plenty of material when he was in office from 2010 to last year.

Indeed, one of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's last campaign appearances before yesterday's elections was alongside Mr Ford at a rally in Toronto.

"It is an embarrassment of riches for comedians," said Mr Steve Patterson, a Toronto comedian.

Fringe parties have long been a source of amusement in Canadian politics. Take the seven-candidate Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, which wants to give animals a political voice. Or the satirical Rhinoceros Party, more than 50 years old and standing in 28 seats - wanting to repeal the laws of gravity and let children vote.

Since calling the polls on Aug 2, the ruling Conservatives have ditched eight candidates for various gaffes, the left-of-centre Liberals have dumped five and the left- leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) has lost two, said punditsguide.ca, an online database.

Not surprisingly, social media revelations ended the hopes of several candidates, even if some of the weird behaviour was well before their entry into politics.

Undercover footage from three years ago forced Mr Jerry Bance, an appliance repairman, to quit the race. The Conservative candidate was filmed by a consumer TV show urinating into a mug during a home visit to repair a leaky sink, dumping the contents in the sink, and only partially washing the mug.

In rural Yukon, Conservative MP Ryan Leef dressed in camouflage and hid in bushes to catch someone defacing his campaign posters. The former Mountie made a citizen's arrest, handcuffing the woman before the police turned up.

Hair had a starring role in the campaign. A Conservative advertisement targeted well-coiffed Liberal leader Justin Trudeau as "not ready to lead", but ending with a dismissive line: "Nice hair, though."

The issue drew in Canada's biggest literary star Margaret Atwood who waded into #hairgate with a column in a national newspaper pointing out that it is Prime Minister Harper, not Mr Trudeau, who campaigns with a hair stylist in tow.

And the Liberals responded with a cartoon ad titled "Your Guide to Canadian Political Hair" that stressed it does not matter what hairstyle Mr Trudeau has, his platform would be the same.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2015, with the headline '#hairgate just a snippet of a wacky campaign'. Print Edition | Subscribe