Critics: Harper should pay for own fashion advice
Published Thursday, April 19, 2007 9:13PM EDT
Pierre Trudeau wore flowers in his lapel and Sir Mackenzie Bowell favoured a thick white beard, but Stephen Harper is the first prime minister to have a personal stylist paid for by taxpayers.
Michelle Muntean, a former stylist for CTV News, fusses over Harper's hair, selects his clothes, and even accompanies him on official trips -- most recently to France for the Vimy Ridge Memorial ceremony.
She's also been known to give her clients spiritual advice, leaving some critics wondering if Harper is getting more than fashion advice.
"What is wrong is the use of public dollars to pay for a stylist or a psychic," said New Democrat MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis.
Former prime minister Mackenzie King famously communicated with his dead relatives and dog, and believed his dreams were a good way to contact the spirit world.
But Harper's communications director Sandra Buckler said Muntean does not discuss psychic matters with either the prime minister or his wife.
"She doesn't," said Buckler.
"I don't care what she is. She is very helpful. She carries the bags, she opens the door. She is very nice."
That still hasn't stopped Wasylycia-Leis and other MPs from running with the idea in Parliament.
"If she is psychic, she must have seen the writing on the wall long before the prime minister: he ain't getting no majority government in Canada," said Liberal MP Todd Russell.
But the heart of the issue is whether Canadians should be paying for Muntean's services. The Conservatives have avoided questions about the issue for the past few days, and it's still unknown how much Muntean is paid.
There is also no record of her employment at the Prime Minister's Office, an official at the Privy Council Office told The Canadian Press.
An Access to Information request also yielded no records of contracts paid to the stylist.
In the past, Harper blasted then-Reform-leader Preston Manning for not disclosing his party-paid clothing allowance.
Manning finally relented and said the perk cost his party $31,000.
On Thursday, Conservative MP said Harper is not asking taxpayers to pay for his wardrobe.
"The prime minister buys his own clothes," said Batters.
"Sure he has some people who do some primping. He is the prime minister of the country and I think Canadians expect a certain look."
With a report by CTV's Robert Fife in Ottawa