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Sophie’s role: What do we expect of prime ministers’ spouses?

As Sophie Grégoire Trudeau copes with her workload, we talk to an expert about the ‘vague, ambiguous’ role of the PM’s wife


 
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, holds their son Hadrien Grégoire while she greets students from D.C.'s Patterson Elementary School, after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (Cliff Owen/AP)

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, holds their son Hadrien Grégoire while she greets students from D.C.’s Patterson Elementary School, after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (Cliff Owen/AP)

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has recently spoken up about the fact that there are too many public demands on her time to juggle with the minimal staff she’s been allotted. Which raises the question: Exactly what do Canadians expect of their prime minister’s spouse, and what are they willing to supply to help them do the job? Maclean’s asked Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, an associate professor of political science at Queen’s University, who specializes in gender and elections.

Q: How would you sum up the role of the prime minister’s spouse?

A: Vague. Ambiguous. It’s not institutionalized the way it is in other countries; the U.S. would be the most stark comparison. It’s an apparatus in the U.S. The first lady’s office is an official component of the White House, and she has a very large staff. She actually has a person on the payroll in charge of floral.

In the Canadian case, that institutionalization is not there at all. What it means is that over time, as the person in the position changes, the duties and public face of the prime minister’s spouse changes, too.

If we look at Stephen Harper’s wife, she was basically a non-entity in public. She maintained real distance from political life and just kept doing her own thing. Whereas other prime ministers’ wives—and Grégoire Trudeau is one of them—have been involved quite closely.

Q: What does that lack of definition mean for the role in Canada? Does it make it more difficult to navigate, or does that give them more freedom?

A: Probably both to some extent, but on balance I think it makes it more difficult. Especially for someone like Grégoire Trudeau, who is obviously committed to participating in and enhancing her husband’s political career. Because she doesn’t have the resources she needs to do it. Let’s think back to the fall, when the public—and some journalists—raised this big stink about the fact that there were paid nannies accompanying them on official visits where she was expected to perform a host of duties. And part of the story that’s come out now is she’s saying she’s overtaxed. Basically, her rope is fraying.

Now, we don’t need to go to the extent that the first lady’s office has in the United States, but there could probably be a stronger formalization of the resources and structure of the role.

Q: How would you define the first lady role in the U.S.? What are the expectations there?

A: She’s like the mother of the nation, isn’t she? Part of the reason why things are so formalized and so well-resourced in the U.S. is that the ceremonial and diplomatic functions of the U.S. president are so much more extensive than most other jurisdictions in the world. She, as a host, has a lot on her plate—more than the Canadian prime minister’s wife—and she always will. Being the most important country in the world comes with that. That’s part of the reason for the difference.

But not only is she expected to be the host on state dinners and state visits, the first lady has, going back to Eleanor Roosevelt, had her own very well-developed policy agenda. So if we think about Michelle Obama, it’s been kids’ fitness and obesity, and she’s had all these formal initiatives. She plays a very overt political role, and the public expects that and in many cases, embraces it. If we think of Hillary Clinton when she was first lady: welfare reform and education reform. Nancy Reagan: war on drugs. There were these really strong policy roles.
There’s more acceptance of a strong political role, and that could also play a role in how well-structured and well-resourced the apparatus around first spouses is. I suspect that if first spouses in Canada became as political as they are in the U.S., there could be some pushback.

Q: It seems like that is a line they are trying to walk with things like the nannies. To even say that Grégoire Trudeau needs more help or staff, right away you could see the eyes rolling, right?

A: Not just about the prime minister’s wife, but about a lot of public officials: let’s do the countdown to someone mentioning the taxpayer’s dime. But you don’t see that in the U.S. with the extravagance of the White House and the first lady, and also senators and congresspeople and governors. Americans expect it and wear it as a badge of pride, like, ‘We’re the best country in the world. You’re goddamn right we’re having caviar at the state dinner.’ They see it as a show of economic strength.

To be quite frank, Canadian public sentiment about providing these kinds of things for public officials is really cheap. Remember when Justin Trudeau was first elected and they were taking a look at the state of 24 Sussex, and how it’s crumbling? They act as though it’s going to be Jacob Zuma in South Africa spending $55 million on the house. Our purse strings are very tight, especially for public figures we see as somehow less legitimate because there’s no electoral basis.

Q: How much of the demand in Canada right now would you attribute to branding? It seems like a lot of the interest in the Trudeaus is, shall we say, aesthetic rather than political?

A: There’s a lot of that. Let’s not also forget her own background, in that she is a media personality in Quebec and she was quite a prominent one. She’s obviously someone who enjoys the public eye, together with Justin Trudeau—they both enjoy it and have been successfully using it politically. That’s not a critique, it’s just an observation.

And she is also part of constructing this happy, healthy, beautiful young family image—the beautiful, vivacious, intelligent, devoted mother is a very necessary component of all that. In a sense, it’s quite traditional, gender-wise. Especially if we compare it to someone like Harper’s wife or even going way back, to Joe Clark’s wife, Maureen McTeer.

Q: In the U.S., the first spouse role has always been a lady. How might that role evolve if Hillary Clinton were to win the presidency?

A: It’s kind of a funny case, because the first gentleman would be a former president in his own right, so he has this legitimacy about him politically that wouldn’t be typical. And he’s always been wildly popular, no matter what he did. He would be given leeway to do whatever he wanted. Now, I think it would become less gendered in the hosting functions of the office, the attention to what they’re wearing, and going on all the daytime talk shows—the things that first ladies have often done would probably be diminished. But it’s a bit difficult to sort of divorce it from thinking about Bill Clinton in that role.

Q: Do you ever get a sense when people are critiquing Grégoire Trudeau that they’re bringing other things to that have nothing to do with her specifically? It seems like she is a bit of a projection screen.

A: She becomes a target for critics of her husband, critics of Justin Trudeau’s attention to aesthetic. Not just how they look and what their family looks like, but all the staged events. Of course, politicians always do these, but there seems to be a perception that this is excessive in his case—all the selfies, the self-focus basically, and then capitalizing on that for political gain. Some of that is directed at her as well, as though she’s just a prop, so why are we giving her a nanny or why does she have staff?

Q: I was thinking about anxieties and criticisms of working mothers.

A: She does have a job—she’s the first lady of Canada. We should give her a paycheque, probably! [Laughs] There is a crew of staff that comes with the prime ministership. In addition to that house, you get people to cook for you, clean for you, shop for you. And if you have children, part of that is people to mind your children. The problem, too, is we often don’t have young people in the executive position, so it’s unusual to have these requirements.

I’ve felt really badly for Grégoire Trudeau at times, actually, because of all of this intense scrutiny and criticism of her and her family. She gets into the public eye, and it’s all venom. I think it’s really brave of her for speaking up and saying, ‘Look, I’m overburdened and I need help.’


 

Sophie’s role: What do we expect of prime ministers’ spouses?

  1. Can’t speak for anyone else but my expectations of the PM’s wife are simple: Behave like a child of the mid 1950’s – be seen and not heard. Dress nice, look pretty and keep your opinions to yourself. You weren’t elected, your idiot husband was.

    • Canadians always want people to work for free

      It appears that you haven’t gotten past the 50’s and your misogynistic views.

      • She is already well compensated for the ‘work’ that she does. She has a home with housekeeping staff, a personal cook, two nannies and trips with her husband were she manages to drag her extended family along. Meanwhile, real people raise their children using their own money, while both parents work and if they manage a week holiday at a friend’s cabin at the lake they think they have hit the jackpot. She was not elected to do anything and ‘managing’ her schedule is not really a difficult job – she doesn’t need any more help.

        • She has a career that she has given up temporarily t see the country.

          Give the poverty angle a rest.

        • Really? Because I do not have kids, and yet I am paying for other people’s kids school and health care. Under Harper I was giving those people a bunch of money every month too, even though many of them were richer than me.

          • I agree with both Gayle and Emily, but I wish the Trudeau government would stop helping the cons and dippers, oh, and Ezra with wedgies in order to stop them from making money from massive mail out fund raisers. Personally I think both cons and dippers are shooting blanks, the only ones they are making money off of, is their base. Question period and wedge politics will always have the opposition sitting on the other side on the house where they sit now.

        • The ‘compensation’ you project on the Prime Minister’s wife…is compensation of the Prime Minister’s. Your comparison of “real people” to the circumstances of the Prime Minister’s family can only be construed as bad faith. Firstly, Sophie and Justin are…real people. The demands being made on Gregoire Trudeau (as the Prime Minister’s wife) by requests from public groups and communities within Canadian society are clearly not those being made on other Canadian women and are unique to her public role. You clearly lack respect for the profile of her position and unique opportunity it provides to reflect the value of women in Canadian society.

      • Oh man, true that. Not only should everyone (except themselves) work for free, they’re quite confident that they themselves could do the job in half the time, much better, and they wouldn’t ask for a penny. Canadian attitudes suck sometimes.

    • I’m glad you started your comment with ‘Can’t speak for anyone else’ because most of your peers are crotchety old men in their 80’s. Be seen and not heard? You have got to be kidding!

    • That’s hilarious Mayo Man. But didn’t you miss the “barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen” bit?

      The loss of Harpo must cause you physical pain …

    • What a shining beacon of Conservative, misogynistic vitriol you are Steve Mayo. Your Mother must be proud.

      Perhaps you are new to Canada or just hide out in misogynistic enclaves, but our inclusive society values all members of family and have always looked towards our Representative’s leadership and projection of values in this area. I might also note that free speech is also a Canadian value and if the public makes inquiries and demands of the Prime Minister’s wife’s abundant skill sets and aptitudes in areas that contribute positively to aspects of Canadian society and international relations…who are you to dismiss it?

    • Why on earth would we go back to the fifties. My God- I was there. It wasn’t great- women were not expected to have roles outside the home at all.
      The spouse of the Pm (whether manor women) necessarily has a semi-public role- since h e or she would be expected at official functions. That alone can be a major role. However, if the person has special abilities and wants a more involved role- why not?
      We could certainly afford to provide MS Gregoire Trudeau another assistant.Peanuts.
      The hue and cry from the opposition is just ridiculous. They have even brought up the ‘nanny” issue again-
      (Although I notice that no one mentions the fact that Ms Ambrose has a live-in boyfriend at Stornoway- and he brings his children. )

      • The formal title of the G.G.’s wife is Her Excellency.

        (Just saying)

  2. Will you please do a follow up article from a person who is not a Liberal? Read what Valerie Pringle has to say about Mrs. Harper.

  3. Comedian Chris Rock succinctly described the three cardinal duties that are expected of any wife and they certainly apply to “First Lady” Sophie.
    The duties are: (1) Feed me; (2) F#&% me; and (3) shut the F#&% up.

    • Why is it Cons never know what “stay classy” means

      Peasants

      • My, my, my! Isn’t poor EMILYONE totally lacking a sense of humor ?
        Lighten up, Emily, life is too short to spend in your state of constant criticism of mortals lesser than you, in misery, and smug self-superiority. You’re really not that special.

        • Eleanor
          Cheapskate, dog-in-the-manger cons are not ammusing

          • EMILYONE:
            You misspelled amusing! You are hereby demoted to EMILYTWO.

  4. She knew the pay scale when her husband applied for the job as Prime Minister, and got elected. And, her husband is already a millionaire outside of his extremely well-paying job. She already has two tax-funded nannies. Responsible Canadians live within their means. This entitled woman, living a very privileged life by any definition, apparently expects hard-working Canadians to sacrifice even more of their hard-earned money, and to thus trim their own lifestyles, so that her already-charmed existence can be even more magical – at their expense. “Let them eat cake??”. Sorry. I get that he’s the head of our country, but she knew the ground rules and the pay scale going in, and their family is already wealthy outside of their current good fortune. I think if she believes she needs more help (Laureen Harper did just fine, didn’t she), she can pay for it out of her/their own pockets. I feel zero obligation to help her out. On the list of Canada’s needs and priorities, she’s at rock bottom in my book.

    • There is no ‘pay scale’……this isn’t some factory union job. He is the CEO of the second large country on earth.

      There is a salary, but he job also has perks and benefits……a chef, cleaning staff, plane, house…….

      Same as Harper got

    • Please stop focusing on the 2 nannies: the Trudeau family has no more staff than the Harper family. They chose to use 2 as nannies. Go find out what those 2 staff did for Harper.

      BTW it seems to me that Lauren Harper only became busy with outside activities in the last few years of Harper’s mandate. She was never seen during the first 5-6 years.

      • Other than adopt a few stray cats, Laureen Harper did nothing in the ten years her husband was PM. She was barely seen in public. She went to more charity events with John Baird as her guest than her own husband.

      • Does anybody question Rona Ambrose’s expenses? Does her live-in boyfriend pay for nannies for his children, or is that part of HER household budget?
        What is the matter with people “nickel and dimeing” the PM?

    • You miss the point entirely. Let’s put this in terms that neoliberal tax adverse/free market Conservatives can understand…Through no fault of her own, and owing only to her abundant skill set and personal qualities, Gregoire Trudeau, has brought a high value proposition to the position of elected Prime Minister’s Spouse that the public and Canadian stakeholder and international communities are asking to leverage. This increased public/international value of the Prime Minister’s wife (over the apparent comparable demands and leverage requests made of previous Prime Minister’s wives) is an opportunity for increased engagement of both Canadian stakeholder groups and International relations at a bargain (read…free) rate. Gregoire Trudeau is actively offering to contribute in this way without pay, requesting merely the administrative support required to effectively do so. The return on this issue for the Canadian people far exceeds any so called ‘cost’. Improving International relations and internal community engagement should be high “on the list of Canada’s needs and priorities” after the Harper administration diminished diplomatic relations and reduced Canada’s reputation in so many international areas (like the UN Security Council, treatment of Indigenous Treaty Rights or meeting our international Environmental and Climate Change targets).

      • So many peoples show their petiteness that I am ashamed. We Have a very intelligent Lady and it is to our adventage as Canadians.
        Please stop looking at your feet.

        • She might be intelligent but she is not a lady, just a sleazy con-artist. I voted Liberal in the last election but I did not vote for Sophie, she was not a candidate and does not deserve any money from taxpayers.

          • Sleazy con artist? Where does that come from? Do you know something the rest of us don’t

      • Great Post. Politely sarcastic and spot on accurate. Thank you.

        Ms Gregoire’s position is so similar to the “Vicar’s wife” role. Expected to do all the work to support her husband’s position but open to constant criticism from the stingy parishioners

  5. Canadians want things CHEAP.
    Workers, health care, building codes, pipelines….everything that when it dies, long waits for treatment, burns down, or blows up the insurance industry or government or charities will fund the consequences.
    Why then would we spend $BILLIONS on security which saw 2 Canadians killed by terrorists in 2014 and fund on a much lesser scale medical research which see hundreds of Canadians killed EACH DAY by cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
    Only in Canada you say…..pity.

    • What does this have to do with Trudeau’s wife wanting more $$help?

      Sorry – but she gets free housing, cleaners, chef, nannies, and lots of free travel….and is she still getting royalties from her infomercial? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vcXyGKplqE
      Justin hid away some of his inheritence from PET so he could avoid paying any taxes, before he was PM. Now he doesn’t have to pay any taxes – and he gets to travel with an entourage that often includes his and her parents. Why doesn’t she ask him to support his own family…most working Canadian men who have kids, take care of them.
      And why doesn’t she let the grandparents take the little Turdeaus every so often.
      it’s not like Magggie or Sophie’s folks are paying for their own way when they tag along on trips with the “kids”, so shouldn’t they at least kick in for some “free” babysitting of their grandchildren, so as not to have people see them as complete parasites?
      Sorry- but Ms. Sophie isn’t a first lady or princess. Canada can’t afford to supplement her income. Her hubby is well off on his own.
      Maybe she should take apage from his book, and if people want her to speak at a function, get them to pay her.
      I don’t want to.
      There are too many homeless and working poor in Canada.

      And what makes the writer of this story an expert on anything besides TV sitcoms?

      Seriously – she is thinking she is in the sma eleague as the First Lady, or those in the Royal family.

  6. OHHHH poor little Laurentian elite. My heart pounds for you, you are so ill done by. This “woman” is an effin joke. She couldn’t hold a candle to the many hard working single women in this country who are barely able to sustain themselves, but are able to through hard work and determination. This poor excuse of a woman should be ashamed of herself.

    • Cons have always had a huge case o class envy.

    • Ever heard of someone called Mila Mulroney? I guess not.

      • Both the Mulroneys and their Con supporters had class envy. Brian wore Guccis and the country went mad.

  7. Seems to me these many demands on her time involve being asked by charities to assist in raising money for them. It also seems to me that paying for her to have another assistant is a very small price to pay given the obvious benefits to the needy people served by the charities that are asking for her help. She will bring in money, charities will have more to spend on needy people, and everyone is happy. It is a good investment. Unless you are some Neanderthal who believes that a woman’s place is in the home, and poor people should just stay poor.

    Though I find it amusing how many con supporters here have suddenly discovered the plight of single mothers! Where were they when Harper was offering tax breaks to families with two parents without offering the same to single parents?

    • What the heck are you talking about – single parents were treated the same way as two income families probably better. IF they has earned income they were entitled to the same benefits as any other family with the same earned income.

      • Income splitting for families with children. Using our tax dollars to subsidize other people’s choices to have children and allow one parent to stay home to look after them. Instead of using our tax dollars to assist those hard working single moms you lot are suddenly so fond of.

        Not to mention that ludicrous 100$ per child even for billionaires.

  8. What an interesting glimpse into the PM through his better half: they are both bringing up important issues to light, and so making them negotiables.

  9. What is funny is that the article nor any of the commenters here mention that Mila Mulroney had a nanny to help her and she also had an office in Langevin Block with staff to help her out with functions. That was back in the 1980’s. She too was raising young children while her Conservative was PM at the time. I guess the conservatives have some memory loss.

    • Different Conservative party. Mulroney decimated that one. When he was finished with it, it had three seats. Harper was the Reform party. He joined with the three seats of the conservatives to make a new party. He and Mulroney never saw eye to eye. Perhaps that is why Laureen was no Mila. Canadians punished Brian and Mila Mulroney.

  10. Weren’t we also paying for the upkeep of Laureen Harper’s cats too when they were at 24 Sussex ?

    • We don’t know that. The Harpers won’t tell. We know that for a time, which the cons refuse to provide details for, we paid for the salary of Harper’s personal groomer. We know we paid for Ms. Muntean’s per diem and travel expenses – and she always accompanied with PM for the nine years of his tenure. We know they sheltered some 200 cats but we are asked to believe that the Harper changed the kitty litter remotely from Europe somehow, or that their kids did whilst left alone at 24 Sussex. Well, I don’t believe these cons. The Harpers were nice, responsible persons who spent their allotted household budget to meet their needs.

      What I believe we are witnessing here is the Frenchie-hate factor that has plagued this federation since before its inception and that no more goes away than racism against First Nations. The basis is an interview written in French by Luc Lavoie in Le Soleil with opinions and translation provided by opposition MPs eager to create a scandal. Go figure. I am French. I read the article and nowhere does Sophie Grégoire ask for additional help. She says she and her assistant are overwhelmed by the number of mail and feel sorry that they can’t respond positively to all requests. But, I repeat, nowhere, is she quoted asking or Lavoie implying that she is asking for more help.

      • Whatever the case, Ms. Muntean’s coverage was less than ideal as Mike Duffy had to dip into senate expenses to pay for Harpo’s hair and makeup. While were on that theme, I wonder who’s the new replacement for Harpo’s clandestine operatives and how much do the positions pay? In any case, we should expect a certain amount of prime ministerial extravagance when mere cabinet ministers may expect publicly funded helicopter rides while on vacation.

  11. So let me get this straight:
    – we want a military we can be proud of but we don’t want to spend the money on the equipment they need.
    – we want to pay less in taxes but want others to pay more so that we get more infrastructure, health care benefits, and monthly government money in some way, shape, or form.
    – we want to have our elected official head of state and his wife (who was not elected) to use their money to support their household and to pay for their needs, and we want them to do things on our behalf, but NOT in a flashy, modern way. Nope, we want them to quietly proclaim how awesome Canada is and make sure the rest of the world either absorbs it by osmosis, or reads about it when someone else writes about how awesome we are in a magazine.
    – we want our elected official head of state and his wife to be on call for us 24/7/365 until the next election but spend their own money on the staff they need to help them run their household.
    – we want our elected official head of state’s wife to revert back to an outdated ideological image of the ‘perfect wife’ who raises children and doesn’t worry her pretty head about important things but she needs to have quick and intelligent answers when talked to by the press, and needs to be available for all fund-raising or charity events she’s asked to go to.

    The hypocrisy is outstanding. Make up your minds people.

    And LesPaul – why would you put “woman” in quotes in regards to Sophie? Was she born a man? She’s a woman. Period. It’s the comparisons that people create for women (My woe is worse than your woe so it couldn’t possibly be as hard…) that keeps us ALL from moving forward. None of us have NO IDEA what she’s gone through, so don’t think that what you see is all she is.

    • Trudeau is most certainly not Canada’s head of state – I believe that would be, for better or for worse, the Queen. He is an MP and the PM (first among equals), and that’s it.

      I think the issue is that there are no clear rules defining what is appropriate and what is not (not unlike the situation that existed in the Senate). There is convention, but that seems to be malleable almost to the point of usefulness. If the spouse of the PM is meant to have use of taxpayers’ dollars for various purposes, then there should be reasonably specific rules that govern how many dollars and how they can be used. That would be a reasonable situation (and an ideal world).

      At any rate, the spouse of the PM was not elected by Canadians for anything, and as such a reasonable argument can be made that said spouse should not be treated any differently than the spouse of any other MP. Having said that, the very malleable convention of the spouse in fact being given support via taxpayers’ dollars would carry some weight. So, I dunno.

      I will say one more thing though, as far as I am concerned Grégoire Trudeau can go full time back to her career. She’s not part of the government, and I have no expectations of her acting as anything other than an ordinary citizen. In fact, I do find it somewhat bizarre that others (including Trudeau and Grégoire Trudeau themselves apparently) expect her to act as something akin to a First Lady.

      • No First Lady concept in Canada. Justine is an MP and elevated to PM only by his own party. And Mrs Justine is nothing politically. She is his wife. She has no constitutional duties. Period

        • Justine? Oh, you mean the guy who took over from Stephanie Harper. Sorry. Carry on.

        • Sorry, but Justin Trudeau is elevated to the position of Prime Minister by the powers of the Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II and her representative in Canada, the Governor General. Justin Trudeau is not elevated to the position of prime minister by his party.

          • The “Prime Minister” is put in that position by his party (the other Ministers) At any time, they can have a vote of non-confidence in him, and one of the cabinet can be elected as “Prime” (meaning “first”) That is the Westminster system.
            It happened in Australia not long ago.
            The Queen does not select the PM, not does her representative, the Governor General.

      • By the way, the Queen was not elected by Canadians or Brits for anything, which doesn’t stop her from working for Canada and Canadians.

        Grégoire is not herself writing letters and sending invitations to herself. Canadians do, more so these days mostly because, I think, they now have a prime minister who is interested in talking to Canadians. Mr. Trudeau is very at ease with Canadians which Harper was not.

        We all know the basis of constitutional monarchy but we also know that the Queen does not govern us. She reigns. We govern ourselves through our parliament which we have mandated to keep an on the government upon which the Queen has entrusted her monarchical power of governance. We are living in a democracy and her subject understand where the will of the people of Canada is listened to and understood, and it is not with the Queen whose constitutional powers I fully respect. God Save The Queen.

        • Regardless, that nice German lady is our head of state and we, as good Canadians, support her and that Greek fellow she married to the tune of $50M per year. Some argue that this is good value for money. Possibly, $50M is a fair price to pay for immortalizing colonialism and elitism epitomized by the Family Compact and Anglican residential schools. Curiously, only 8.4% of Canadian residents identify as English and only 3.4% as Scots. Even though only a trivial number of Norwegians identify as such, I’d like my fair share – approx. $1.50 – to go to the Norwegian royals; sure Norwegians mostly stuck to cutting trees and catching fish rather than aspiring to ersatz Canadian nobility, but everyone deserves their due!

          • You seem to have forgotten the Welsh, Irish, and the British (who give the U.K. as their origin).

      • Further, Jim R., concerning your “He is an MP and the PM (first among equals), and that’s it.” This is incorrect. The “primus inter pares” or First Among Equals does not apply to the MP and PM relationship but to the relationship of the prime and other ministers. Members of the cabinet are “primus inter pares” or First Among Equals. Members of Parliament are not equals of the prime minister. They are equals to the Honorable member for Papineau.

  12. If we’re looking for a role-model for “First Lady” Sophie to emulate, we need look no farther than our good neighbor to the south. Michelle Obama surpasses every other first lady including the infamous Emelda Marcos of the Philippines in lavish, ostentatious, but ultimately selfish, parasitic, and useless lifestyle. Following Michelle’s example, Sophie can move her parents into 24 Sussex. Why shouldn’t they also share in the perks of First Family living?

    • Hmm .. I guess you mean Imelda Marcos … and as I recall, Mila Mulroney had a special shoe closet built at 24 Sussex when she reigned there…
      BTW – Nancy Reagan was the lavish, ostentatious, selfish parasite in the US … not Mrs. Obama.

  13. Why is this bottom for the esteemed Prime Minister even a subject in a piece. She is totally irrelevant and should remain so. In other words she should simply shut up

  14. Take a deep breath Canada … and give the Trudeau’s a break. They’re a breath of fresh, young air and they’re bringing a new sense of pride and vitality to the musty, crusty Canadian image. The costs are miniscule when compared with the old, tired Governor General’s office and staff and the pack of do nothing Senators. It is 2016 and it’s a new time for Canada. Enjoy it!

    • They are not a breath of fresh air. This is the same old elitist, entitled, arrogant Liberals that we have always known. Please don’t conflate your idiocy with their virtue.

    • Sorry- but they are a joke.
      Selfie taking, wannabes, whose sense of entitlement is really overblown.
      They want to keep up with the Obamas. And obviously the Kardashians.

      Justin has his own money- let him pay for his greedy fame hungry wife.

  15. Libertarian conservative white guy… Agree with the author completely but think it should be taken further. Pay her.. I absolutely dislike been given anything for free.. because when it happens i do not value it as much as when i paid for it..
    J.T. is different then Harper in so many ways and frankly its been refreshing and stunning. 7 months out, he seems to be trying to do the best he job he can.. He has been to more parts of Canada in 6 months then Harper was in 6 years. He has engaged more Canadians face to face then any PM before him including his dad..I stated this last fall when he was elected, and I say it here. The man runs a multi-trillion dollar enterprise called Canada. He is our CEO. He should be given every tool to manage it effectively. His position should be afforded the best technologies available to do his job. This should be paid by taxpayers. As a taxpayer I want to get the best and most valuable use of our leader’s time. I get it…it costs money.

    Ms. Gregoire-Trudeau… Pay her. Give her official duties with respect to her role. Define her role to prevent partisan politics from her work. Give her an office with staff to do her defined duties. Look to USA model of first-lady as a template. That is how Gregoire-Trudeau is being defined in the media and Canadian voter mind’s. She is valuable to Canada. It is ridiculous and unfair to compare her to ordinary Canadian women. She lives in the fish-bowl called the PM bubble. Her daily life is not the same as ordinary life. Under a microscope… she has tried to engage her position for the benefit of Canadians and Canada.

    Many Canadian PM wives have chosen to stay quietly in the background. That is fine. Comapred to USA first lady duties this could be described as lazy or uncaring.

    I agree completely with the extra staff. She is a Canadian asset. If we are able to leverage her popularity for the benefit of worthy causes then do it. It is hard to write and give coherent “polished” speeches weekly. Anyone thinking they can do it is showing defined ignorance. We are a dual-lingual country. Something the USA first lady and others do not have to contend with. If she is receiving 50 – 70 French/English requests per week, the correspondence alone is a full time task. Think of the media if she chose not to respond to requests. They would call her lazy or uncaring. Can’t win… She represents our country very well.. I didn’t hear her ask to be paid. Just more help. It is to our country’s benefit.

    • Sorry idiot- I don’t want to pay her. She wasn’t elected by taxpayers.
      And what work is JT getting done with all the frequent flying?
      Taking selfies doesn’t really qualify as work. He’s really good at giving away other peoples’ money, and self promoting.
      Maybe she could look into doing some worthwhile charity work at home.
      Or doing another infomercial on the product she invented…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vcXyGKplqE

  16. Judging by the frequently expressed opinions of the press, the public should at least fork out for some proper and appropriate clothing for the lady. Perhaps Justin could also have a white cowboy hat to cover up on bad hair days.

  17. I suspect her secretary needs an assistant to keep track of all those stupid, “come talk at our book club meeting.” all those rich Conservative politician’s wives keep doing.. Perhaps she just needs some gravelly voiced curmudgeon to answer the phone and tell people NO!

    • Have you read about the groups with which she is involved?
      No- I didn’t think so.

      • Yes we have, Peg. They are all mentioned in the above article. yYu have a problem with these groups?

  18. She could always charge the people who want to see her for her expenses and a salary.

    I sure wouldn’t pay to see her, but those who think she has some sort of specialness because she sleeps with the PM, should be able to pay for the “priveledge”.
    What on earth could she possible say that would be worth taxpayers forking out even more to keep this money hungry fame monger satisfied?
    Sorry, but we didn’t elect her.
    And we are not the U.S., or England- we do not have a First Lady or Queen. And she sure hasn’t got the class and manners of Prince Willie’s wife ( take a look at her infomercial- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vcXyGKplqE)

    And since her parents & Justin’s mom often travel along with their entourage, for free- maybe she could rope them into helping out to justify the cost of their travel expenses.

    This article is a joke, the writer is no expert on anything- maybe a real story on the costs of all the trips, including who went and what the cost was to Canadians, would be a better story.
    This fawning over the PM & his wife is akin to the mindless obsession with the Kardashians.
    It dumbs us down as a nation.

    And by the way- there have been recent PMs wives young enough to have minor children in the past- remember Mila Mulrooney ( Ben), Laureen Harper ( who selflessly did cat rescues around Parliament Hill, with not a lot of publicity) . . They looked after their own kids and handled themselves with grace and poise. ( ANd even Maggie Trudeau had kids- but she was a hot mess)

  19. SHE doesn’t get nannies, a chef, cleaners – the Prime Minister gets them as part of the Official Residences Act (technically, the house gets them). Are folks really saying that Sophie is responsible for cooking, cleaning, raising children and running the house – i.e. “women’s work”? If Trudeau were a single father would he still get this staff? Of course!

    Because there are many demands on her time she gets an assistant – someone to help manage her calendar and handle correspondence. At this point, the correspondence is more than one person can handle. She is in demand – Canadians WANT Sophie to attend functions and support charities. Even if she were to say no to everyone (and imagine how that would go over), it would take time and in the time it takes to handle one request another one or two more descend. She doesn’t have the luxury of not responding at all – that would cause an even worse backlash.

    That’s why she needs more help. A little space would be nice too – using the dining room table just doesn’t make sense.

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