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Movember on the Hill has declined from Tom Selleck to dirtstache status.

Movember used to be big. In 2011, 75 Members of Parliament raised roughly $70,000 for the cause as they grew their staches. In 2012, Movember Foundation’s over one million global members raised $146.6 million. Canadians made up over one fifth of this population and  contributed around one quarter of these funds. Lip-sweaters were common in constituencies from P.E.I. all the way to B.C.

 

Tom Selleck: the moustache glory days.
Everett Collection/Rex Features

 

Yet Movember’s reach seems to have shortened. Canadian donations fell by almost ten million last year with almost 75,000 fewer members. At this point, news sources have only revealed two MP participants for Movember 2014. The numbers could increase, but the hype isn’t there— unlike in previous years, no major federal party has made an official statement to launch their Movember campaigns. Without an official stance, a party whip calling for members to grow moustaches is unlikely.

Movember Canada has many goals, which are probably in line with Canada’s universal healthcare values.  The organization strives to fund men’s health programs. It encourages conversations about men’s health risks, while also supporting men in action to remain well. It strives for treatment and care for prostate and testicular cancer. It highlights men’s mental health and seeks to end discrimination against those facing challenges.

These goals would be much easier to achieve if everyone on the Hill helped, not just the couple of men who can and really want to grow damn-fine moustaches.

At the same time, it’s important to recognize that many people feel excluded from Movember; not everyone can grow a stache, viewing the stache as the key to male identity is problematic, and people who don’t identify as men probably also want space to discuss their health issues. Many parliamentarians might have reasonable qualms with Movember.

We might want to take a step back, recognize that some people don’t feel included in this movement, and then try to rework it so that everyone’s energy can contribute to positive social change. If the Hill facilitates inclusion in Movember activities for all people, the movement might regain its mojo.

At this moment, we can honour those fine staches of Movember-past that really rallied people in the effort to bring awareness and action to health issues:

 

Sir Robert Borden: boy, he sure looked creepy.
Library and Archives Canada

Jack Layton: now that was a stache.
DAVE CHAN

Justin Trudeau: dreamy.
Jean Levac/Ottawa Citizen

 

Perhaps Canada’s moustached history can inspire a rebirth of the upper-lipped crumb catcher. With luck, MPs like Justin Trudeau will regain the nerve to rock facial fur in all shapes and sizes. Hopefully, our dialogue in parliament and around the country can improve health awareness and action for all people because that’s what Movember is really about.