OTTAWA - The NDP may have a new face with Thomas Mulcair, but the new opposition leader doesn't plan on getting a new one for himself.
He says he is keeping his beard.
Mulcair's rich, neatly trimmed beard has generated a fair bit of media attention since he won the party's leadership last month.
There hasn't been a bearded prime minister since 1894 when Mackenzie Bowell was in office, and Bowell never had to run on his whiskers.
The Conservative senator made it into office when then-prime minister John Thompson suddenly died.
Mulcair told CTV's Question Period on Sunday that none of his advisers have suggested to him the beard is an image problem.
He says he has sported the growth since he was an 18-year-old law student at McGill University.
Mulcair says he grew whatever facial hair he could at the time to make himself look older.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair comments on the federal budget in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Thursday March 29, 2012. If there was any doubt that Thomas Mulcair's political universe revolves around Quebec, it was dispelled by his response to Thursday's federal budget. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair addresses the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday April 5, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)