Letter to Editor 2003 - Ottawa Citizen: Dressing Up Government


Morgan Duchesney: 2003

Response to Dec. 29 editorial Dressing for the part:

The Ottawa Citizen editorial board objects to NDP MPP Peter Kormos’ casual attire in the Ontario legislature. They believe he should dress for the part. In a backhanded way, I tend to agree. Since the main business of the legislature is creating the impression of genuine debate, perhaps the impression of ‘respectability’ created by jacket and tie is suitable. The suit and tie with short hair look is the conservative uniform of the corporate world and does not reflect the clothing habits and tastes of the vast majority of the population. This relationship of uniform appearance leads to the impression that politicians have closer links to the corporate world than to working people. Since appearances are everything in politics, this rigid dress code further stratifies our society. Furthermore, most people tend to give well-dressed people the benefit of the doubt. Just go to any courtroom and observe the defendants. Out of fear, they tend to mimic the attire of the legal authorities in the hope of creating a ‘good impression’.

Since MPPs are the people’s representatives, perhaps their legislative attire should reflect the fashion sense of their constituents. The first order of business for any legislature is honest and comprehensive debate leading to the creation of useful legislation. Once this requirement is met, perhaps the issue of clothing could be addressed. Pretty clothes and expensive haircuts didn’t prevent Walkerton, Ipperwash, hydro chaos or the current provincial financial mess. Let’s get our priorities straight.