Armed with distinctive blonde wigs, pursed lips and red power ties, a group of Ontario women are planning to dress up as U.S. President Donald Trump to protest the Hudson’s Bay Co. for carrying Ivanka Trump’s fashion line during two demonstrations in the Toronto area planned for Saturday.
The women call themselves the “Peeved Beavers,” and they have a bone to pick with HBC.
The Peeved Beavers are demanding the Canadian retailer drop Ivanka Trump’s fashion and accessories line and are encouraging consumers to boycott, or “Baycott,” the store until it does. Amanda St. Jean, a member of the newly-formed group, told CTVNews.ca that Ivanka Trump has a lot of influence on her father’s controversial policies throughout his campaign and in the current administration. Policies which she believes go against Canadian values.
“She [Ivanka] is part of this administration. She may not have a title, but she’s mixing public office with personal gain and we feel that’s just never appropriate,” St. Jean said in an interview from Guelph, Ont. on Thursday.
St. Jean also explained why they are specifically targeting Hudson’s Bay Co.
“I think the Bay is the priority because of their stock. They’re selling quite a lot of the goods [from Ivanka’s line] from jewelry to shoes and boots and also clothing,” she said.
“Plus, they market themselves as the iconic Canadian department store and we would point out that the values of the Trump administration are not the same as what I think are Canadian values.”
St. Jean has been heavily involved in a U.S. anti-Trump campaign started by Shannon Coulter called #GrabYourWallet, which encourages consumers who disagree with the president’s policies to boycott stores selling the Trump family’s merchandise. The Peeved Beavers is a Canadian offshoot of the #GrabYourWallet movement.
St. Jean and Coulter said they have both asked HBC about dropping Ivanka’s brand, but they haven’t received a response, which is why the Peeved Beavers have organized a protest.
Hudson’s Bay spokesperson, Tiffany Bourre, said the retailer aims to deliver a “strong assortment” of fashion in an email to CTVNews.ca.
“We respect our customers’ right to choose the brands that work for them. In turn, our customers’ choices inform our decisions on which merchandise we offer,” Bourre wrote.
St. Jean estimates that, since their secret Facebook group was created three or four weeks ago, it has grown to include approximately 30 members. Amanda Spencer, another Peeved Beaver, says they’re only expecting 10 to 15 members at the two planned protests on Saturday, so they can control the protest, and stay in character.
“We’re thinking of it as almost being a piece of performance art,” Spencer said. “We’re there to interact with passersby for a period of time and bring some attention to the issue.”
The two women said their Trump imitations (with maybe a few Steve Bannons and Kellyanne Conways thrown into the mix for good measure) are intended to be “fun and artful” to contrast some of the “heaviness” in the world right now.
St. Jean said a first “practice” protest will be held at the Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., followed by the second protest at the flagship Bay store located at the Toronto Eaton Centre, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Supporters of Ivanka Trump have organized their own counter-protests too, including the #BuyIvanka hashtag that gained traction on Twitter after U.S.-based retailer Nordstrom dropped her products. Nordstrom cited poor sales, rather than political reasons, for its decision to stop stocking Ivanka Trump products.
In Canada, Charles Edward Bae created a Facebook group, called “Ivanka TRUMP Belongs at The Bay,” to oppose the #Baycott campaign. Bae told CTVNews.ca that he created the group to counter the boycott demands and show his support for Ivanka’s designs.
“Canadians protesting a Canadian store over products that the American president’s daughter sells… It’s a little bit silly to me,” Bae said in a phone interview from Vancouver, B.C. on Thursday.
Protesting the Bay because it sells Ivanka’s brand is illogical and “guilt by association,” he said, because the president’s daughter doesn’t have an official role in the administration. He said it’s unfair to target Ivanka because of her father’s policies.
Shannon Coulter, the creator of the Grab Your Wallet campaign, takes an opposite view when it comes to Ivanka’s influence in the White House, arguing that Ivanka campaigned for Trump even after the leak of a now-infamous video that featured his crude remarks about women. Coulter said the first daughter was an official part of the transition team, regularly meets with business and world leaders and directly shapes policy through her relationship with her father.
“It’s a complete myth that she’s just daughter. She’s not. She’s a key part of this administration,” Coulter said during a phone interview from San Francisco on Thursday.
Bae, on the other hand, said Ivanka has continually advocated for female empowerment and should even be considered a role model for women boycotting her line.
“In what way do they have any evidence that Ivanka is in any way against human rights or the advancement of women or all of these values that Canadians hold dear?” Bae questioned.
The Vancouver-based actor went on to argue that protesters who view Trump’s policies as intolerant are actually being intolerant themselves.
“These people protesting Ivanka at the Bay, they’re basically trying to limit choice for all other Canadians, which personally, I find to be totally unfair and it’s not very liberal,” Bae said. “If you’re so insistent on having your way, you become a little totalitarian and tyrannical.”
An exchange of ideas
The Peeved Beavers said they’re simply engaging in a healthy and respectful exchange of ideas, which they said is integral in any democracy.
Coulter knows St. Jean from their work together on the Grab Your Wallet movement and said she’s supporting the women in their boycott of Hudson’s Bay Co.
“In the short term, the goal is to be able to do business with companies we love with a clear conscience,” Coulter said. “In the long term, the goal is a more respectful, inclusive society.”