The cheek of Jim Flaherty … expensing his Maybelline while preaching austerity!

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty before application of his Smashbox and Cover Girl. Below: Mr. Flaherty after his makeup makeover. Warning: Any resemblance to J. Edgar Hoover is certainly purely coincidental. Below that: FBI icon J. Edgar Hoover and the real Mr. Flaherty. Jim Flaherty portrait by Edmonton artist William Prettie.

Who would have thought that when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he was going to powder his nose … he was! (Ba-Bam!)

OK. That’s already enough. Get the drummer off the stage right now! You get the idea.

But seriously … and I mean that, people, seriously … beyond the obvious hilarity of Canada’s hard-ass Finance Minister (the tough guy who’s promised to stick around till the deficit dragon is slain one copper penny at a time no matter how many civil servants have to lose their jobs) getting busted for expensing his Cover Girl and his Maybelline, there’s a quality of cognitive dissonance to this story.

Leastways, there is out here in Alberta, where the local franchise of Prime Minster Stephen Harper’s Wildrose/Conservative Party of Canada, in whose service Mr. Flaherty toils, is trying to pass off expenses by public officials as evidence of “corruption” in a Progressive Conservative government that’s not as far to the right as they’d like.

Meanwhile, back in Ottawa, the same actors (these types are pretty interchangeable, after all) are pleading the “Rob Ford Defence” and arguing that since the cost of Mr. Flaherty’s foundation and blush were slight, the offence ought not to matter.

That’s not the way it works with principles, alas for them, and the principle in this case is that another richly rewarded Conservative ought not to be taking advantage of his position to get the public to pay for something the rest of us would assume we had to buy ourselves. (I say the “rest of us” advisedly, because, heaven knows, my balding pate reflects the lights alarmingly on those rare occasions I am asked to appear on TV, so I could probably use a tub of Smashbox myself to tone things down a bit.)

I mean, really, the unblushing cheek of these generously compensated right-wing types, expensing their makeup and muffins, their parking and Perrier, not to mention plenty of high-cost items like orange juice and helicopter rides, while they preach at people who live from paycheque to paycheque about the need for austerity and restraint.

The double-thinking Wildrose/Conservatives who recite these contradictory talking points say this little tempest in a compact is meaningless and will go away quickly because the expense in question was so small. It’s said here, however, that it won’t, for the same reason former Harper cabinet minister Bev Oda’s notorious $16 glass of orange juice sticks in the memory like a fishhook: its outrageous novelty.

If a glass of juice so expensive most ordinary Canadians would never even consider it seemed scandalous to those of us who buy our beverages at Tim Horton’s with our pocket change, the incongruity of the hard-assed Finance Minister squeezing the fiscal pips until they squeak one minute and powdering his nose with a nice blush the next is certain to remain cemented in the public memory.

This effect is made more intense, it seems to me, by Mr. Flaherty’s more-than-passing but surely completely coincidental resemblance to J. Edgar Hoover, the late director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation who brought new implications to the hitherto innocent phrase “Little Black Dress.”

Unlike Ms. Oda, of course, the Prime Minister and his echo chamber of neoconservative commentators and their enraged chorus of adolescent online supporters will work harder to dismiss the criticism of Mr. Flaherty, as he is a key part of their team of recycled Mike Harris and Ralph Klein era dead-enders.

But Mr. Flaherty – whatever it was he was trying to cover up, just the shine on his nose or his increasingly unhealthy pallor – is going to go down in Canadian history as the guy who got caught with his hand in the … moisturizer jar.

The finance minister can take some comfort from the knowledge makeup for men is nowadays de rigueur in Korea, the home of such manly pursuits as Tae Kwon Do and rogue atomic bomb development. But here in Canada, I’m afraid, there’s just no way he can avoid a loss of face. (Ba-BOOM!)

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

8 Comments on "The cheek of Jim Flaherty … expensing his Maybelline while preaching austerity!"

  1. Holly Stick says:

    Not only should he pay for his makeup out of his own pocket, he can darned well buy his own pantyhose too!

  2. anonymous says:

    What I find most disturbing about this story is the discovery that the finance minister uses those cheap, drugstore brands. Perhaps that’s the austerity angle? But one would think that he should use the more exclusive brands, like his boss does.

  3. Cover Up – Made Up – Make Up – mmmn .. cosmetics or politics .. or both all at once ? ?
    Powder Face Flaherty, y’say ? Got a real western cover up, foundation brand they use too .. conservative tar scented REDACTION ! Its a known fact they all embrace, and love Steve’s personal fave that slippery, slimy PROROGUE, a man’s man deodorant that covers up any stink. For a while they all favored a lip gloss called TRANSPARENCY.. but word is they’ve stampeded to a sexy hot new brand, UNACCOUNTABLE. They’re trendy herd types so expect to see them switch brands to old school ‘product’ like LIES or DECEIT cuz they just won’t let a politician down..

  4. Gregory Daly says:

    What troubles me is how Climenhaga seems to equate this makeup in a titillating fashion to J. Edgar Hoover and some type of “inappropriate” dress behaviour. Shame on him for taking that direction. We all realize that Flaherty’s actions were inappropriate but Climenhaga just turned me right off, and I am one that can usually take a joke. The headline was smart. The article left a very bad taste in my mouth.

  5. Bruce A says:

    Yep, the problem with preachin’ conservative values is it’s just so darn inconvienent for conservatives to practice, but as the old Ottawa joke goes and updated for pious Conservatives:

    “These are the principles of the Conservative Party and if you don’t like ‘em, we have others”!

    One has to wonder if Doonesbury’s seminal work “But the Pension Fund Was Just Sitting There” isn’t required reading for Tough Guy Conservatives. As my former history prof said once, “If you read the first page of The Wealth of Nations, you’ll know more than the entire Reagan administration put together”!

    Then there’s this from Stephen Harper’s thesis:

    “C a n a d a ‘ s p o l i t i c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s
    a r e n o t a b l e f o r s u c h e l e m e n t s a s c a b i n e t s o l i d a r i t y , c a u c u s
    s e c r e c y , a n a b s e n t e e H e a d o f S t a t e , a n a p p o i n t e d U p p e r
    H o u s e , a n o l i g o p o l i s t i c e l e c t o r a l s y s t e m , a n d a n u n c l e a r
    f e d e r a l d i v i s i o n o f p o w e r s . T h e s e m a y s i m p l y m a s k g r o w i n g
    a n d d a n g e r o u s p o l i t i c a l he t e r o g e n e i t y w i t h u n s t a b l e f o r m s o f
    ” p s e u d o – c o n s e n s u s . ”

    Gotta admit, he nailed it.

  6. ronmac says:

    What’s all this talk about Canada’s housing bubble about to implode?

    And what about these reports that up $500 billion are considered “high-risk” mortgages?

    And what about the fact these mortgages are insured by the CMHC (which is a polite way of saying they are insured by the tax dollars of Mr and Mrs John Q. Public)?

    And what about these allegations Cdn banks have been making reckless loans, knowing full well that if these mortgages go into default well, not to worry, because the tab will be picked up Ottawa?

    And what about these suggestions that the Harper gang is allowing this to happen because they know that once the stuff hits the fan (like what is happening in Europe) it will give them the perfect excuse to start gutting social programs?

    Austerity = bankers and speculators walking off with billions = largest bank heist in Cdn history.

  7. Filostrato says:

    Ah, yes, you can’t beat the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd. Politics as theatre or magic show – what you see definitely ain’t what you get.

    No amount of Gravol would enable me to take a close-up look at Harper’s cosmetic attempts these days. Before he lost the fight with contact lenses which made him all teary-eyed and caused his eye-liner to run, he used to lay the stuff on with a trowel. I simply can’t look anymore. Whether he still requires the services of a 24/7/365 cosmetician and wardrobe consultant we will probably never know.

    And you’re right about Flaherty – he doesn’t look well. Four-and-a-bit short years from his powdered appearance in 2008 until now – the change is startling.

    You can’t make this stuff up. (Ba-dum…hey, where did the drums go?)

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