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Our First Makeover Story

Frank McKenna is virtually perfect, but wait till you see those other guys.
Could it be possible that Joe Clark might still be prime minister if God-or a good plastic surgeon-had only given him a chin? It may not be fair, but in a world of 10-second clips, you can come up short on the political smarts if you look really terrific. With that in mind, Elm Street asked two of Canada’s top makeover artists, plastic surgeon Michael Jon Bederman and cosmetic dentist Ed Philips, to overhaul each of the nine provincial premiers. (Prince Edward Island’s Catherine Callbeck just missed the cut by resigning in August.)

Dr. Philips in the News…

He could improve every one of them, boasts Dr. Bederman. Well, almost every one. New Brunswick’s premier, Frank McKenna, 48, is virtually perfect. "Unless he came in saying he really hated his nose or something, I’d leave him alone," says the doctor; who runs the Centre for Cosmetic Surgery in Toronto.

Elm Street provided official photographs of the premiers, pictures chosen to put their best faces forward. Even so, Dr. Philips, whose Toronto practice specializes in smile analysis, believes he could turn up the wattage on the smiles of several of the men. He wouldn’t bother changing Saskatchewan’s Roy Romanow; somebody, he believes, beat him to it.

Using the two experts’ know-how, plus electronic photo- manipulation software, we could have turned back the clock and made the premiers look like their high-school photos. We didn’t. "These days plastic surgery aims for subtle, natural- looking refinements that leave the patient looking refreshed," says Dr. Bederman. The goal is to soften lines, not to pull the skin so tight that the face looks permanently startled.

One word of caution. No matter how gifted the practitioner; cosmetic surgery is a mix of science and art. Computers aren’t bound by the realities of scalpel and sutures. In real life the premiers might not emerge from surgery looking as sleek as they do in our manipulated portraits. "It would be lovely if we could just say, ‘OK, let’s slim the nose by another 10 per cent,’ and have that happen," says Dr. Bederman, "but we can’t."

Still, just look at what a little electronic nip here, a digital tuck there can do to Ralph Klein’s chipmunk cheeks, to Mike Harris’s schnozz, to Brian Tobin’s ears.

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