MICHAELS: Maybe Trudeau deserves equal pay for equal work

Kathy Michaels is a reporter with the Kelowna Capital News, a sister paper to the Penticton Western News

The internet is somewhat right for a change. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau should not be dipping into the public purse to fund the wages of an extra assistant. There are better uses for our tax dollars.

Uses that could send a clear message to all women, but let’s work our way up to that.

The issue of Gregoire Trudeau’s need for assistance was raised last week when  she told an interviewer that she could use a hand to continue with all the charity and advocacy work she’s been asked to help with. She and the prime minister have nannies for their three children, and Gregoire Trudeau already has one assistant.

“I’d love to be everywhere, but I can’t. I have three children and a husband who is prime minister. I need help. I need a team to help me serve the people,” she was quoted saying.

Then, just like that, the floodgates holding back passive aggressive  Canadians from getting their hate-on were opened.

#PrayforSophie memes were aplenty on social media as she was generally mocked for being high maintenance and out of touch with the people.

The most annoying of all, however, was a letter circulating at a dishearteningly rapid rate through Facebook.

It was an open post by a woman who chose to have five kids — two of whom she thought worthy to note have attention deficit  disorder — and what she said was a high-stress job.

“What is most disgusting is how terribly out of touch you can be with the realities that working women in Canada face today. Canadian women, on a daily basis, struggle with the costs of childcare and activities that are increasingly creating hardship for Canadian families,” the woman wrote. “I’m talking about working women that struggle to find work-life balance. I’m talking about women who run themselves into the ground with ZERO help. And let’s be honest, you have no official duties. It’s YOUR choice to attend events and guest speak at charities.”

I read it three times, and each time I became increasingly disgusted.   Not with Gregoire Trudeau, mind you.

Disgusted, because Facebook missives are always  politicking wrapped in artificial folksiness and, more importantly, because the underlying message of this piece is that women  shouldn’t have to ask for help.

It’s apparently our job to white-knuckle it through difficult work/parenting moments, or as she said “run ourselves into the ground” because, what, it’s what we lady-folk do?

We should be toiling like it’s the 1800s?

It’s also a galling bit of writing because it’s just plain obtuse to hang Gregoire-Trudeau on her so-called “choice” to help.

Sure, she wasn’t elected and has no “official duties.” The only government spouse in Ottawa who does is the Governor General’s wife, I learned this week.

But we all know Gregoire Trudeau has been thrust into the public eye, and while she’s there I think she’s using that attention well. She’s continually talking about women’s empowerment, and issues like eating disorders, which she herself has dealt with and, for the record, not being paid for it.

This role requires great speeches — or, in her case, strange songs — that take attention and time to compose because those interested ears bring awareness and dollars to issues that need to be dealt with.

Do the teeming masses of suffering Canadians sharing this Facebook post think Gregoire Trudeau should do the country’s volunteer work off the side of her kitchen table, and feel grateful for the opportunity?

Gregoire Trudeau has made me cringe on more than one occasion. That hand over her heart thing she and the Prime Minister do at the glint of a camera lens makes me want to poke my fingers into my eyes. But if she needs help, the work that comes with her position and her place, then she has the right to ask for it without being told she is less of a Canadian woman for doing so.

In fact she deserves much more.

The real question Canadians should be asking is why isn’t she making a wage for doing this work? Maybe then she could hire her own assistant.

Kathy Michaels is a reporter with the Kelowna Capital News, a sister paper to the Penticton Western News

 

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