Politicians in Cowboy Hats

Politicians in Cowboy Hats 2015: Lassoing Votes, Stampeding to the Polls, and Other Puns

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For a brief history of Stampede fashion, you can read the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014 round-ups – or “100 Years of Bad Photo-Ops

All eyes were on Calgary this weekend, as Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Mulcair kicked off the pre-election BBQ circuit. Despite the extra media attention, this year’s fashion round-up is a rather tame affair. When you get the truly horrible photo ops is during leadership races when Bay Street Liberals and Annex Socialists venture west for the first time. For the three men vying to win this fall’s election, this isn’t their first rodeo.

In what could very well be his final Stampede as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper leaves the leather vest at home.

In what could very well be his final Stampede as Prime Minister, it’s worth reflecting on Stephen Harper’s time in office. He may not have grown as a leader, but the man has certainly come a long way from the leather vest days.

I can see the attack ads now. "Just Trudeau flips pancakes 5 feet in the air. Do you want someone this  reckless in charge of the Canadian economy? In an uncertain economy, we need Stephen Harper's steady hand."

I can see the attack ads now. “Just Trudeau flips pancakes 5 feet in the air. Do you want someone this reckless in charge of the Canadian economy? In an uncertain economy, we need Stephen Harper’s steady hand.”

Props to Tom Mulcair for bringing the entire family, even if he got the Calgary hashtag wrong.

Since he brought his entire family, I’ll give Mulcair a pass for getting Calgary’s hashtag wrong.

And, of course, everyone had to get their picture with Calgary’s most photographed landmark, Naheed Nenshi.

nenshi with everyone

I assume this wasn’t Rachel Notley’s first Stampede, but this marks the first Stampede where anyone recognized Rachel Notley. That placed a lot of pressure on her, especially since Ed Stelmach called it the “Alberta Stampede” and looked completely out of place during his first Stampede as Premier.

Notley…well she rode a friggin’ horse. Anyone who rides a horse is deemed to have won at Stampeding. It’s that simple.

notley

As for what’s left of the Alberta PCs? The good news is their entire Calgary caucus could carpool together in the parade this year.

Alberta PC caucus could share a car on the parade

Finally, we end this post on a sad note. After losing two nominations and being told “thanks but no thanks” in his bid to run for the most right wing party in Canada, this will mark Rob Anders’ final Stampede as an elected member of Parliament in Calgary. Luckily, Rob took it in stride and was still smiling.

anders

SUPER IMPORTANT VERY URGENT UPDATE:

No sooner had I posted this round-up, than Rachel Notley did the unthinkable, and was caught wearing her cowboy hat backwards.

harper notley3.jpg

As discussed above, a Premier’s first Stampede is a dangerous place.

Still, Notley gets credit for riding a horse and not grimacing like she was trapped in some kind of hillbilly horror show. As for her slip-up, the Post’s Jen Gerson put it best:

Mocking Notley for her imperfect grasp of the white Smithbilt during Stampede is a little like picking on a cosplay actor who misplaced the buttons on the breathing apparatus of a Darth Vader costume at ComiCon.

Politicians in Cowboy Hats

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Featured Posts, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | 2 Comments

For a brief history of Stampede fashion, you can read the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013 round-ups – or “100 Years of Bad Photo-Ops

This week’s pilgrimage of politicians to the Stampede was met with less fanfare than some years gone by. This wasn’t the first rodeo for any of the party leaders, and ever since the leather vest incident, wardrobes are vetted by dozens of staffers and stylists. So there were few surprises and few opportunities to ridicule.

And, let’s be honest, everyone was there for the Shat.

Shatner montage

Which kind of makes me sad Jack Layton isn’t around anymore. Mulcair? He’s supposed to be in town this weekend (if Harper lets him), but I see him as more of a Picard than a Kirk fan. Or maybe Riker – post beard.

Layton trekkie

That left the spotlight squarely on Justin Trudeau, flanked by local Liberal candidates who are trying to go where no Calgary Liberals have gone before (at least in the last 40 years) – to Ottawa.

Trudeau with Calgary Skyview candidate Darshan Kang and Calgary Confederation candidate Matt Grant

Trudeau with Calgary Skyview candidate Darshan Kang and Calgary Confederation candidate Matt Grant

Fresh off a victory of sorts in Fort McMurray – the heart of the oilsands – there are high hopes for a Calgary breakthrough. Ironically, it may be a Trudeau who finally puts the ghost of the NEP to bed in Alberta.

In the gold old days, Calgary children were raised that a Trudeau was to be kicked in the shins, not high fived. Times have changed.

In the good old days, Calgary children were raised that a Trudeau was to be kicked in the shins, not high fived. Times have changed.

In a rare show of civility, Harper shakes Xavier Trudeau's hand, before turning to crowd and reminding them Trudeau is trying to push pot on their children.

In a rare show of civility, Harper shakes Xavier Trudeau’s hand, before turning to the crowd and reminding them Xavier’s dad is trying to push pot on their children.

Harper interviews candidates to fill the senate vacancies.

Harper interviews candidates to fill senate vacancies.

With what now seems like a yearly tradition – an Alberta PC leadership race – in full swing, I’ve taken the opportunity to rank the would-be-Premiers by their Stampede wardrobes. After all, the PC constitution forbids them from talking about policy, so what else are Albertans going to base their decision on?

Finishing third, and the winner of “worst dressed” this year, is Tom Lukaszuk. I recognize he spends 30 minutes on his hair every morning, but surely he could have donned a cowboy hat just this once? All I’m asking for is the bare minimum effort.

luzakuk

In second, Ric McIver gives it the bare minimum effort, wearing jeans and at least carrying a hat around.

mciver

Like the leadership race itself, there was never any doubt about who would win this fashion round-up. Jim Prentice has been a Stampede All-Star over the years – he rides a horse, throws a breakfast, and makes a wide range of outfits work.

Prentice

And, finally, there is Naheed Nenshi, who this week passed the Calgary Tower as the city’s most photographed landmark.

nenshi

Politicians in Cowboy Hats: Come Hell or High Water

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | 7 Comments

For a brief history of Stampede fashion, you can read the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 round-ups – or last year’s “100 Years of Bad Photo-Ops

Flood waters cannot stop the Stampede and flood waters cannot stop politicians from the annual ritual of self humiliation known as the cowboy hat photo-op. Indeed, if there’s one photo op even more irresistible than the Stampede, it’s a post-disaster zone tour.



The Flood Aftermath

Stephen Harper was the first on the scene, playing dress-up in a Canadian Forces flight jacket, complete with pilot wings. Harper defended his wardrobe choice by saying he was honouring the military – I tend to think a better way to honour them would have been allowing Afghanistan troops to keep their danger pay.

Stephen Harper, Naheed Nenshi, Alison Reford

Next up would be Thomas Mulcair, sporting the official Stampede “hell or high water” t-shirt – four words that in southern Alberta usually follow “I’m never voting NDP come…”.

Mulcair stampede

Justin Trudeau put on his coveralls, got his hands dirty, and made history becoming the first aspiring Prime Minister to ever sport a backwards baseball cap:

trudeau work

While I have no doubts the Tory war room was dreaming up attack ads to use this picture in, at least Justin didn’t ruin a perfectly good pair of jeans:

harper relief 2 - wish he'd worn coveralls



Stampede Round-Up

But we were told come hell or high water the show must go on, so it was time for the politicians to pick up a cowboy hat and flip some pancakes. Alberta Premier Alison Redford proved to be a bit over eager on this front, sending her pancake into orbit, in what I can only assume was an attempt to out-flip Danielle Smith.

redford flips pancake

Although Chris Hadfield was the Stampede grand marshal this year, it appears that Justin Trudeau once again managed to overshadow an astronaut. Because everywhere you looked this weekend, there was Justin. At one point yesterday the Calgary Herald had three separate Trudeau stories on their website – this likely isn’t the first time that’s ever happened, but I suspect it’s the first time none of the stories involved effigies.

trudeau stampede headlines

Mercifully, Justin decided to forego cargo shorts in favour of jeans and belt buckle. It remains to be seen if he’s a big thinker, but the “XL” tag on his hat at least shows he’s got a big head.

trudeau stampede

And here’s Justin – again – with Calgary’s mayor and international Twitter superstar Naheed Nenshi. I’m not sure I agree with the FastForward survey which named Nenshi the “sexiest Calgarian“, but he’s certainly the most huggable.

trudeau nenshi hug



Also Pictured

Devinder Shory, Joe Oliver, Michelle Rempel, and Danielle Smith. (Thanks to MC for the photo)

Devinder Shory, Joe Oliver, Michelle Rempel, and Danielle Smith. (Thanks to MC for the tip on this one)

If recent scandals take down Alison Redford, she will at least have a fruitful career as a children's entertainer.

If recent scandals take down Alison Redford, she will at least have a fruitful career as a children’s entertainer.

Kidding aside, Redford actually gets my vote for "Best Dressed" this year. Not only did she cycle through a series of outfits, she is the first politician I've seen pull off a "Stampede skirt".

Kidding aside, Redford actually gets my vote for “Best Dressed” this year. Not only did she cycle through a series of outfits, she is the first politician I’ve seen pull off a “Stampede skirt”.

There were no disasters this year, but Jean Charest take home the "Worst Dressed" honours - it's a nice hat, but he looks completely out of place in the suit jacket.

There were no disasters this year, but Jean Charest take home the “Worst Dressed” honours – it’s a nice hat, but he looks completely out of place in the suit jacket.

100 Years of Bad Photo Ops

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Featured Posts, Federal Politics, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | 7 Comments

As you have probably heard a hundred times over the past month, the Calgary Stampede turns 100 this year.

Calgary has changed a lot over this time. A seat at the 1912 rodeo cost 50 cents. Calgary’s population was 70,000. And, oh yeah, back then Alberta was a Liberal bastion, with the Grits holding 6 of 7 federal Alberta ridings and 36 of 41 provincial seats. Times have changed.

So maybe then-Prime Minister Robert Borden can be forgiven for not braving the hostile frontier known as Liberal Calgary to visit the first ever Stampede.

The first notable political Stampede photo-opp I could track down came from 1928, featuring soon-to-be-Prime Minister RB Bennett. Bennett, after all, was from Calgary and actually once owned what would become the Stampede land.

RB Bennett left his Bennett buggy at home to walk the grounds

It’s not clear when it became expected for Prime Ministers to “go cowboy”, but I suspect the sight of Lester B Pearson in a three-piece suit and bow-tie may have been the tipping point that made politicians realize they needed to at least try and fit in. It’s hard to look more out of place than Pearson, so this photo may well have been his “leather vest” moment.

Mike Pearson lets loose at a 1960s Hays Breakfast

Next up is one of the most bizarre sights ever witnessed in Calgary’s history: The great satan himself, Pierre Trudeau, riding a horse down 6th avenue, in suit (with his trademark lapel rose) and cowboy hat, waving to the crowd. It’s a look any other politician would have been ridiculed about for weeks, but if there’s one thing even Albertans could agree Trudeau had, it was style.

And any time you can ride a horse with confidence, you usually get passing grades on the Stampede Fashion Report.

No, that’s not an effigy. That’s Trudeau himself. (1978)

Liberal Prime Ministers since Trudeau have not fared as well. While Jean Chretien delighted in telling the same story about his great uncle visiting Alberta in 1900 on each and every trip to Calgary, he always looked out of place at Stampede.

Paul Martin meanwhile, was always Paul Martin – trying too hard to make everyone love him. Photo ops galore with the Calgary Flames is one thing – the “I love Alberta Beef” sticker and full jean outfit was likely overkill.

Not only did he enjoy stealing Alberta’s money…the grinch himself stole their donuts (1995)

Paul Martin at the most important Stampede ever, in 2004

Which finally brings us to the most infamous Stampede picture of them all.

The year was 2005, long before then-leader of the opposition Stephen Harper hired a psychic/stylist. It’s too bad, because she could have cautioned him against the tight leather vest and backwards cowboy hat that made him look like one of the Village People. At the very least, she would have been able to predict the coast-to-coast ridicule his outfit prompted.

Mind you, 7 months later Harper was Prime Minister, so he got the final laugh.

Luckily, this picture doesn’t show the ass-less chaps.

Harper’s an Alberta boy, so he should have known better. But, for some reason, Albertans sometimes have great difficulty looking like Albertans.

Take Ed Stelmach who, in 2007, had one of the worst Stampedes ever. Stelmach kicked off his first Premier’s breakfast by welcoming everyone to the “Alberta Stampede“. Minutes later, he was nearly pied. To top it off, the man looked horribly out-of-place the entire time in a dark blue suit jacket and a “get me out of here” smile.

Miraculously, this picture was never used in a “flip flop” campaign commercial.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, are others who had varying degrees of success in pulling off the “cowboy look” over the years.

Mackenzie King can be forgiven for leaving his cowboy hat at home in 1939, when the King and Queen came visiting.

Carolyn Bennett finds herself at the Hays Breakfast, after getting lost en route to an “ugly Christmas sweater” party

PC leadership candidate Gary Mar poses with the winner of the Gary Mar look-alike contest, in 2011

Harry Chase always shows up to Stampede breakfasts looking like he’s ready for a gun fight at the O-K Corral.

Jim Prentice poses with the Tory caucus, in 2009

Gilles Duceppe, during a rare visit to the Stampede grounds, in 1997

Sixth Annual Politicians in Cowboy Hats

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Alberta PC Leadership Race, Alberta Politics, Featured Posts, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | Leave a comment

For a brief history of Stampede fashion, you can read the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 round-ups.

Although Rick Hansen served as Stampede Parade Grand Marshal, all eyes were on Will and Kate this year. I do find it somewhat perplexing how many of the same people who lambasted Ignatieff for his time outside of the country went absolutely ga-ga over our future head of state visiting us for the first time in years. If a 6-day cross-country tour isn’t the definition of “Just Visiting“, I don’t know what is. That said…

OH MY GOD! Will and Kate looked absolutely dashing!!! So young! So thin! So beautiful! And they pulled off Western wear more perfectly than most people who have lived in Calgary their entire lives! Their outfits were, like, so simple, and yet so perfectly perfect. I hereby crown them “best dressed” of the 2011 Stampede – the king and queen of fashion.

This was Naheed Nenshi’s first stampede as mayor, and I know many were worried how the man would look in western wear. After all, Dave Bronconnier left big cowboy boots to fill – the man looked the part of the Mayor of Calgary every Stampede, riding ‘ol leroy down 9th Avenue. Nenshi meanwhile, went to Harvard, is a University Professor, and spends his spare time blogging about population density rates in new housing developments. And let’s be honest, the man doesn’t really look like John Wayne (neither the actor nor the serial killer).

However, Naheed hit it out of the park this year. His outfit is irrelevant – the man rode a horse in the parade, thereby making him a Stampede All-Star.

With Stampede a success, the big question now turns to what he’ll wear for pride.

FEDERAL POLITICIANS

Usually it’s the federal politicians who make the biggest splash at the Stampede – for better or worse. After all, Liberal academics, socialists from Toronto, and environmental crusaders don’t tend to have a large collection of denim in their closets. Heck, even the “Alberta boy” himself, Stephen Harper, committed the biggest gaffe in Stampede history.

But this year? Everyone’s tired out from the election. Jack Layton needs to spend time with Quebec. The Liberal leadership contest hasn’t reached the point where candidates need to parade in cowboy hats to court Calgary Liberals.

Stephen Harper did give a speech about how invincible he is (which always ends well in westerns...), but his stylist really earns her money come the second week of July every year, so the PM once again looked fine.

Here’s a pancake. You’ll get your eggs once Canada is out of deficit in 2015.”

PROVINCIAL POLITICS

In comparison, provincial politics are rockin’ this summer with an election on the horizon, and the PCs and Liberals both in the midst of leadership contests. As always, the media was all abuzz about the chosen one, Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith.

And 5,000 came to the Stampede breakfast, but there were only 5 pancakes and 2 sausages. So Danielle Smith said “bring them to me” and she placed her hands over them. She broke the pancakes and gave them to Prime Minister Harper, telling him to distribute them to the multitudes. Lo and behold, they were all fed, with stacks of pancakes left over. And so the legend of Danielle Smith grew.
PC LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES

The Stampede may be the most important event of the entire PC leadership race. After all, it gives candidates a dozen socials a day to press the flesh in Alberta’s largest city. As such, the contenders have all no doubt held countless strategy meetings and focus groups to find that outfit that says “I’m an Albertan, I enjoy a good rodeo, but I don’t look like a member of the Village People when wearing a cowboy hat“.

So as a public service, I’ve taken it upon myself to rank the PC leadership contenders choice of western wear.

1. Rick Orman

Winning the “Calgary Grit Best Dressed” trophy will likely be the highlight of the leadership race for Orman, so I hope he savours this. While Orman’s outfit isn’t Jim Prentice-good by any means, it’s the best of a rather uninspiring field. And he gets bonus marks for the 3 cute children in western wear. After all, in politics, nothing beats cute children.

2. Alison Redford

Redford has a bit of a “female Harry Chase” look going on. I know that doesn’t sound like a compliment, but it really is, since I consider Chase a stampede fashion superstar.

3. Ted “The Man” Morton

Here’s what I said about Ted when I voted him “worst dressed” last year:

Once again, Ted is just trying to hard. When he ran for leadership, he drafted a catchy little country music jingle. He holds “golf and gun” fundraisers. But, really, he’s just a university professor from the big city trying to pass himself off as a good ‘ol country boy. And, in this case, it shows.

Morton has improved this year, though I’d probably only give the prof a “C-” grade, and the vest above leaves a lot to be desired. However, in browsing the 7 Stampede Breakfast photo-albums on his Facebook page, I did notice he mixed it up and owns at least 2 different cowboy hats, so I’ll give him marks for effort.

4. Gary Mar

Here, PC leadership candidate Gary Mar poses with the winner of the Gary Mar lookalike contest.

While I recognize orange is a hot colour politically these days, I’m just not feeling it. I mean, seriously, have you ever seen Clint Eastwood wearing orange?

5. Doug Griffiths

Mercifully, Ed Stelmach no longer wears suit jackets to the Alberta Stampede, but his habit appears to have rubbed off on a few of his MLAs. Quite simply, it’s just something you don’t do.

6. Doug Horner

Like Griffiths, Horner dons the suit. What knocks him down to the “worst dressed” spot on this list is the cup of Starbucks in his left hand. Quite simply, cowboys do not drink Starbucks.

It appears Yvonne Fritz is equally aghast.

Fifth Annual Politicians in Cowboy Hats

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | Leave a comment

For a brief history of Stampede fashion, you can read the 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 round-ups.

You never quite now what you’ll get at the Stampede. The boy from Calgary became a national laughing stock when he mistook the Stampede for a Village People convention in 2005. And the geeky Liberal pushing the carbon tax was named “best dressed” by both this blog and CP in 2008.

Of course, 6 months later Dion had been pushed out as Liberal leader, and 6 months after leathervestgate, Harper was Prime Minister. So it’s best not to read too much into this (unlike, say, a broken down bus which we all KNOW is directly linked to electoral fortunes).

Federal Politicians

Once again, we have a surprise winner this year in the “best dressed” category. Why, it’s none other than Mr. Ivory Tower Michael Ignatieff. The urban legend in Calgary is that no one had ever been able to find a cowboy hat big enough to fit Ignatieff’s head, but for the first time in five years he has moseyed into town in full gear, hat included, and he doesn’t look the least bit out of place.

Wait, I thought he said he liked the smell of barns! Flip flop!

Layton and Harper have been to enough stampedes that we know what to expect from them. Layton always winds up looking surprisingly at ease for a mustached Toronto socialist. And Harper? Well, since leather vest gate, he always plays it safe and gets a C+/B- grade. The man never looks comfortable, but at least he doesn’t embarrass himself.

You know, despite all the talk of Harper playing chess, I’ve always thought his tactics were more of the “detonator” variety. Kelowna Accord? KABOOM! Census? KABOOM! Promises not to appoint senators? KABOOM!

But if Harper and Layton have become too predictable, let’s all raise a glass of sillabub to toast Elizabeth May. Worst dressed in 2008. Best dressed in 2009. And this year? I’ll reserve judgement until I can find a picture of her before she tumbled into the tie dye trough.


And, in the interests of by partisanship, a special shout out to stampede superstar Jim Prentice – yeah, he’s got a bad record as environment minister, but he rides a horse in the parade every year and looks like he could handle himself in the rodeo.

Prentice has a wide range out outfits and he makes them all work. And the ladies can’t get enough of Jim’s talk of voluntary 40 year emission reduction targets.

Provincial Politicians

Ed Stelmach disappoints every year at the Stampede. In 2007, he had us all smacking our heads on the ground when he called it “the Alberta Stampede“. The last two years, he has celebrated the Alberta Stampede by wearing a suit jacket over top of his cowboy duds. A major no-no.

And this year, it’s more of the same. On the weekend, he went with a rather unflattering vest that Ed’s mom appears to have sewn his name into, and on Tuesday he dusted off the suit for the third straight year.


But despite my criticism of Stelmach, I’m going to give his Finance Minister the title of “Worst Dressed” this year. I’m hesitant to do this based on a profile picture, but I can’t imagine anything going on below the shoulders that could salvage this outfit.

Once again, Ted is just trying to hard. When he ran for leadership, he drafted a catchy little country music jingle. He holds “golf and gun” fundraisers. But, really, he’s just a university professor from the big city trying to pass himself off as a good ‘ol country boy. And, in this case, it shows.

Which brings us to David Swann who is an academic from the big city and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. In fact, he rode his bicycle in the Stampede parade this year.

But you know what? Even though Swann looks completely out of place every year, he puts on the hat, the boots, and the belt buckle. He hosts one of the largest stampede breakfasts in Calgary. And he always looks like he’s having a great time. That’s something Albertans can respect.

Municipal Politicians

This is Dave Bronconnier’s last stampede as mayor and I’ll give the man props, he has always dressed, looked, and acted just like the Mayor of Calgary should during stampede. Hell, the man even rides a horse for crying out loud.

Fourth Annual Politicians in Cowboy Hats

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2008
2007
2006

There were no see-my-vest incidents this year but, thanks to a few news stories, a few e-mails, and Jim Prentice’s facebook page, I’m able to present the fourth annual Stampede Fashion Round-Up.

First up, the federal party leaders:


Elizabeth May, quite fairly, won “worst dressed” last year, but the experts turned it around and named her “best dressed” this time around.

Looking at the comparison below, she has obviously improved, but I think it’s probably a case of low expectations and a better picture being used this year, so I’m not quite prepared to crown her as the champ.


So while May earns a solid runner-up ribbon, I’m going to go with Jack Layton as my choice for “best dressed” among the party leaders. For a mustached socialist from Toronto, he pulls off western surprisingly well.


In this picture, Harper tells a local farmer about anti-Stampede comments Michael Ignatieff had made earlier in the day. Harper would later return and clarify that it was actually PETA which had made the comments.

Ever since leather vest-gate, Harper has put in solid, but not spectacular, performances. This year is no different – he seems to have settled on the checkered shirt and dark cowboy hat as his go-to outfit.


So Harper went with the red shirt, and the rookie Ignatieff went blue. While Ignatieff didn’t embarrass himself, he played it safe, and deserves a 4th place finish. I know Ignatieff’s an academic and a bit out of his element, but if Stephane Dion can pull off a cowboy hat, anyone can.


A surprise appearance by Gilles Duceppe! He does go with a hat, so I may have to slot him in ahead of Iggy in the rankings.


Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier poses with Lisa Raitt. Raitt sported a black cowboy hat until she misplaced it by the pancake tray.


This brings us to Stampede superstar Jim Prentice. Sure, past environment ministers have turned in their SUVs for hybrids, but Prentice one-ups them by going horse back.


Prentice poses with the Tory caucus.


Like Prentice, Harry Chase is a Stampede superstar…the man is a cowboy, and could stare down Wyatt Earp. However, I must once again point out that the “Harry Chase MLA” apron is absolutely ridiculous.

While Chase always looks the part, provincial politicians often struggle at the Stampede. Ed Stelmach and David Swann are both nice people but both were clearly outdone by a bunch of city-slickers from Ottawa. I mean, for crying out loud, the tree-hugging Green Party leader had a better Stampede outfit than Alberta’s Premier and leader of the opposition!

Third Annual Politicians in Cowboy Hats

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2006 Politicians in Cowboy Hats
2007 Politicians in Cowboy Hats

A big thanks to everyone who sent in pictures or posted them on their own blogs. Let’s begin the photo round-up with the CP wire story’s winner and loser:

And with good reviews from the Alberta media scarce during his time there, who can fault the LPC from pouncing on this and making it the top story on their weekly e-brief:

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion attended the Calgary Stampede last weekend, where he was named the best dressed political cowboy. Wearing boots, blue jeans, a fitted plaid shirt, topped off by a broad-brimmed cowboy hat, Mr. Dion looked like a true cowboy as he walked the grounds of the stampede, meeting with Albertans.

Dion also gets top tough guy Clint Eastwood points for walking into a wild west town, knowing that everyone was gunning for him. So I’ll second the consensus and name him “best dressed” for Stampede 2008, taking the title from last year’s winner, Harry Chase.

As for the green party leader? Mayday mayday! Call in the fashionistas! Since Liz has gotten a lot of flack for the above picture, I will post a slightly more flattering one of her from Sunday. May also gets Clint Eastwood points for wearing the Canada-USA pin, something no other party leader in Canada would ever be gutsy enough to do:
So what about the Village Person? Well, his psychic may have dropped the ball on giving him the Maxime Bernier heads up, but she’s earning her paycheck in the fashion advisor role. Unlike the nerdy Quebec professor, who benefits from low cowboy expectations, Albertans expect a lot of their local PM and ever since leathervestgate, Harper has actually done a good job at looking presentable during the 15 minutes of public appearances he puts in every Stampede. In this picture, Steve gets into the spirit of things by giving a handshake so friendly to a little girl, you’d think she was his daughter.
Another Albertan on the hot-seat following his “Alberta Stampede” comments last year was Ed Stelmach. Now, after winning 72 seats in March, Stelmach could show up wearing nothing but a belt buckle and it probably wouldn’t matter much. Come to think of it, wearing nothing but a belt buckle might have been better than this random mish-mash of clothing:
So what about those trying to replace Ed as Alberta’s top cowboy? Well, politics are always at play during the stampede and with the ALP leadership race on, this year was no different. Saturday morning saw David Swann’s breakfast go head-to-head against the federal Liberal one. For the first time in a while, Liberal MLAs visited the federal breakfast, with Dave Taylor, Darshan Kang, and Kent Hehr eating pancakes with Dion. Meanwhile, the Swann breakfast drew 2000 hungry Calgarians, among them Harry Chase. Still, in our fashion review, we must give Taylor the win over Swann:

Last year’s winner of “worst dressed” for a bizarre animal sweater vest, Carolyn Bennett was much improved this year. I’ll give her credit – she stampedes every year and appears to have an extensive western wear wardrobe, which isn’t bad for a Toronto gal. She’s pictured bellow with newly elected MLA Kent Hehr:
Finally, the Liberal candidate looking to replace Myron Thompson in Wild Rose, Jen Turcott, sports a stylish cowgirl outfit. A good try, but how could anyone look better than Myron in western wear?

Second Annual "Politicians in Cowboy Hats" Blog Post

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | Leave a comment

Everyone seemed to enjoy last summer’s Stampede fashion review so, after hitting all the major breakfasts on the first weekend, I’m pleased to present my recap of how the big names fared this year. For some historical perspective, the Globe & Mail offers up Stampede pictures throughout the ages.

Ever since the disaster of 2005, the nation’s eyes turn to Stephen Harper every Stampede. Last year, Harper hoped in and out of the Hays breakfast in under 20 minutes, wanting to avoid human interaction at all costs. To his credit, this year the PM stayed and posed for pictures for double that time. As for the outfit, Harper looked about as good in western wear as it’s possible for Stephen Harper to look in western wear. Clearly his psychic stylist is earning her money, although it might be time for a taxpayer funded nutritionist.

I caught Prentice at BBQs Saturday and Sunday, and he wore the same outfit on both occasions. It’s also the same thing he’s worn every single day of the Stampede since, one imagines, his 12th birthday. It’s a good look but it might be time for Jim to mix it up a little bit.

I can’t make fun of Carolyn Bennett for her wild pink outfit since the Stampede has been running a “tough enough to wear pink” promotion to raise awareness for breast cancer. It’s a shame since it would have been really easy to poke fun at her pink shirt, bizarre sweater vest, and green Dion scarf.
Kevin Taft has been everywhere this week – the Stampede parade Friday, a series of breakfasts Saturday, and the Hays breakfast Sunday. The pink worked well on Friday, but Kevin’s wife pulled off Western a lot better than him at the Hays breakfast Sunday. The jacket? Definitely a no-no. Still, at least Kevin is aware that it’s the Calgary Stampede.
Actual conversation with Jason Kenney:
Me: Hey Jason, you’re in MP – I was hoping to get a picture with you.
Jason: Are you Young Liberals or Young Conservatives?
Me: Young Liberals.
Jason: I won’t hold it against you. I used to be a Young Liberal too.
Me: Yeah, in Goodale’s office. Just wanted the picture because I’ve got a collection of pictures of myself with Tory MPs…I got one with me and Anders last year.
Jason: Ha Ha. Well I’m not as bad as Rob, eh?

And, with that, Jason Kennedy went up about 200% in my books. Admittedly, he was starting pretty low so a 200% increase isn’t a lot, but he’s climbing.

Speaking of which…

Craig Cheffins, new to elected politics, obviously has yet to learn the “never dance when there’s a camera around” rule.

Stephane Dion looked almost the same as he did last year. For a French University professor, he always presents himself surprisingly well at Stampede.

Peter Miliken, a frequent visitor to the Hays breakfast flashes his sheriff badge. If only he could lay down the law in the House of Commons and keep the children in order…

Harry Chase is probably the only politician in Canada who can wear a coat like that and pull it off. The man looks like he’s straight out of a Western and probably deserves “best dressed 2007″ for that. That said, it’s never a good sign when you need to identify yourself as an MLA on your apron.

There were also a bunch of other politicians at the Hays breakfast I wasn’t able to track down. Lawrence Cannon was out and about espousing the values of Quebec nationhood to the Calgary faithful (which means he must have felt a bit like Jason Jones in those Molson Canadian commercials). Bill Casey was also shaking hands. Carol Skelton may have been around but since no one alive knows what she looks like, I don’t have a picture (unless she accidentally wandered into one of the other shots).

Stampede Round-Up

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Humour, LPC Leadership 2006, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | Leave a comment

It was a busy weekend for Calgary Liberals with a swarm of candidates descending upon the city for Stampede photo ops. Saturday morning was the annual Liberal breakfast, held this year at the Calgary Zoo. I was able to snap pictures of the seven candidates in attendance:

Gerard Kennedy likely won the cowboy competition of the Liberal leadership fashion pageant. He was the gutsiest when it came to “going western” and pulled it off the best (on both Saturday and Sunday). He seemed very relaxed when he spoke at the Liberal breakfast, keeping things light. (I have more GK pics posted on his OC)

Dion deserves full marks for effort. No one is going to ever confuse him for Clint Eastwood but, this being his fourth Stampede, he knows that you have to at least try (translation: the cowboy hat is a must). Stephane was proudly telling anyone who would listen that “I look better than Stephen Harper in my cowboy costume“. I did notice that one of the buttons on his shirt was undone when we had a sit down interview on Sunday, so my hope is he wasn’t walking around all morning like that. Of interest, on the pamphlet table his campaign included free cabbage seeds which was…odd.

Ignatieff stayed away from the cowboy hat, going with blue shirts both on Saturday and Sunday. I’m not sure how well he could have pulled off a complete Stampede wardrobe so maybe that was a wise move. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t mention the carbon tax at all in his Saturday morning speech…

Carolyn Bennett looked a lot better on Sunday than Saturday. The Sheriff badge on Saturday made her look more like an 8 year old at Halloween than a serious politician. But she bounced back well on Sunday and was probably the best dressed of the Liberals at the Hays breakfast.

Dryden got the biggest laugh of the morning when he talked about how he’s always worried about fitting into his jeans. Strange thing is, his outfit actually looked slimming. Like Iggy and Brison, he went with the jeans and open button shirt, avoiding the hat.

Scott Brison got a good response to his speech on Saturday and scored some points by talking about going to Cowboys when in Calgary. That might explain why he didn’t feel quite up to dressing up for Sunday. His jeans and golf shirt was probably the least “Stampedy” outfit of any of the politicians at the Hays breakfast.

Hedy Fry showed up late on Saturday and, along with Dryden, was a no-show on Sunday. Her speech was pretty much “I’m a Western Liberal. You’re Western Liberals. You should vote for me.” I found it quite odd that a Vancouver MP would say “I welcome the other candidates to Calgary and the Stampede”.

As always, every single candidate sucked up to the crowd with various variations on “Calgary Liberals are the best Liberals” and “we need to elect more Liberals in Alberta”. You can read Naylor’s Take on the Stampede Breakfast here.

Sunday was the Hays breakfast and Paul Wells has a good fashion review on his site. Among the highlights of his spy’s report:

Someone is dressing the Prime Minister. […] About a zillion times better than last year’s bizarre too-tight S&M gear.

Jim Prentice wore the same damn buckskin jacket he always wears, Stampede or not, but given his portfolio, it makes sense.

As for the Liberal pretenders, Carolyn Bennett looked great and stylish in denim and suede.

Stephane Dion looked like Stephane Dion in western wear, which is not as weird as it sounds.

Michael Ignatieff looked exactly as you would expect an academic who was told to dress western to look. […] No hat, though, which I’m told he claimed was because he has an enormous head and did not want to make it more enormous.

Most shocking outfit was on Scott Brison. Normally, our Scott pulls off the downtown-hipster-late-cowboy thing well, but he didn’t even try today.

The winner by far of the fashion sweepstakes was Gerard Kennedy. You can tell when someone is really a westerner, and this guy is to the ranch born.

Since I’d talked to the Liberal contenders the day before, my two main targets for the morning were Jim Dinning and Steve Harper. Unfortunately, I missed Harper completely. It sounds like he jumped out of his limo, did some media and left fairly quickly (with so many human beings around, Steve was no doubt uncomfortable).

I did manage to track down Jim Dinning. I went up to him and said “Hello Mr. Dinning, could I have my picture taken with the next Premier of Alberta“. Jim laughed and we had our picture taken. However, as soon as the click went, he turned and walked over to a nearby business exec without saying a word to me. Considering I could very well have been a potential supporter, that rubbed me a bit the wrong way; last year, Jim Prentice was willing to chat even after he knew I was a Liberal. On the fashion front, Jim wore a white top with his own name on it.

So, all in all, a fun weekend. I interviewed Stephane Dion after the Hays breakfast and will have a recap of that later this week.


Liberal MLAs Harry Chase and Dave Taylor [left] and the third amigo, Liberal MLA David Swann [right]

Rob Anders?

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