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Gilles Duceppe's hairnet raises eyebrows

Call it a blunder, a slip-up, a goof or a gaffe, but if it happens on the campaign trail it can make an election a lot more interesting – or even alter the outcome. From a Tory leader's famous fumble to a Liberal staffer's "beer and popcorn" bungle, CBC Digital Archives presents a selection of memorable Canadian federal election errors.

It may be clean, but a white hair cover isn't a good look for anyone - especially someone in politics, a business where image is everything. So when Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Québécois, toured a Quebec cheese factory wearing what looked like a shower cap, it was a gift to the province's political cartoonists. This CBC-TV clip from the 1997 federal election shows some of the cartoons and the hygiene protection that inspired them.
• The Globe and Mail described the hairnet as "a very goofy-looking rubber headgear" that made Duceppe "an early favourite for the Award for Most Preposterous Photo-Op of the Campaign."

• The 1997 federal election was Duceppe's first as leader of the Bloc Québécois. He had taken over the job from Lucien Bouchard just a few weeks before the election was called. According to the Globe and Mail, Duceppe's campaign was beset by "myriad organizational problems" and "an ambiguous message." He fired his campaign manager, press liaison and media bus co-ordinator shortly after the cheese factory incident.

• In the 1997 election, the Bloc lost enough seats that the Reform Party replaced it as the official opposition. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: June 9, 1997
Guest(s): Gilles Duceppe
Reporter: Terence McKenna
Duration: 1:02
Political cartoons by Aislin (Terry Mosher) and Garnotte (Michel Garneau).

Last updated: June 17, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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