Our parliament and legislatures are full of ex-lawyers, ex-economists, ex-business leaders and ex-community activists.
How about adding an ex-punk rocker to the mix?
That's what Joe "Sh#&head" Keithley is attempting to do in British Columbia. Keithley is one of Canada's pre-eminent punk rock legends and is the founder and lead singer of D.O.A. — a hard core punk band founded in the late 1970s in Vancouver.
After four decades as a professional musician, he's hanging up the guitar and running for nomination as a candidate for the B.C. NDP in the riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.
"I'm not your typical politician," he told Yahoo! Canada News. "But I think I can win this."
He says his top issue is education — specifically, he wants to push for more ESL and special-needs teachers and find ways to lower the student loan debt burden for new graduates. He also wants to utilize his skill set to promote the arts and make B.C. into a "cultural destination."
Keithley isn't completely new to political activism; D.O.A. has a storied history of participating in benefit concerts, including ones for anti-globalization, anti-nuclear energy and anti-Republicans.
In 1996 , Keithley ran for office with the B.C. Greens but has since soured on that party.
"I quit the Green Party because one I found them to be vote splitters. The other thing is they don't have a coherent fiscal policy and they don't have a coherent policy on social matters," he said.
"They have their head screwed on straight about the environment but they don't know much about the rest."
If you speak with Keithley for more than a minute, you realize he's not your stereotypical punk rocker. He is now 56 years old, married, has three children, and even coached his son's little league baseball team. He's also very articulate and has successfully managed his own record label.
But, as you might imagine — being a punk rocker — he has some skeletons in his closet.
As the Globe and Mail recently chronicled, at one of D.O.A.'s first shows in the U.S. — in 1978 — Keithley, noticing the audience was bored, urinated while on stage.
“I unzipped and sent forth a stream that went clear across the dance floor,” he writes in Talk – Action = 0: An Illustrated History of D.O.A.
But Keithley says his closet is wide-open for all to see; he isn't worried about the past coming back to haunt him.
"People should take me as I am because I'm an honest person," he said.
"I'm not worried about that. People can go search to see what I've been 35 years ago. Whatever that was 35 years ago. Jimmy Carter was the president 35 years ago.
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"The big thing is ... I've learned to listen and I think that should be a prerequisite of politicians. They should listen to the people who pay their way."
D.O.A.'s last performance will be in California in February.
The nomination meeting is in March. The election is in May.
Other musicians turned politicians:
Two NDP MPs, Andrew Cash and Charlie Angus, were bandmates in the 1980's punk rock band L'Etranger. The band was best known for its anti-apartheid single One People, which gained which received some airplay on MuchMusic.
Angus subsequently joined the Juno-nominated alternative folk band Grievous Angels.
(Photo courtesy Murray Siple, Sudden Death Records)
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