OTTAWA – The opposition parties are making some political hay over media reports that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife wants extra staff to help manage her official duties.
Sophie Gregoire was quoted this week in the Quebec City newspaper Le Soleil as saying she is overwhelmed by the crush of requests from groups that either invite her to speak or ask her to help promote their causes.
She has pointed out she only has one aide to help manage her official duties, noting she must also raise three young children.
The issue became fodder for the opposition parties in the House of Commons on Thursday as well as on social media.
Tory MP Candice Bergen told reporters that former prime minister Stephen Harper’s wife, Laureen, managed with just a single aide.
Bergen wondered how the government could hire more staff for Gregoire when there are Canadian families who are struggling to make ends meet.
Bergen said the couple had to be aware of what they were getting into when Trudeau sought the Liberal leadership.
Tory MP Jason Kenney was even more blunt, saying Laureen Harper never complained about her duties.
“Harpers paid for babysitters, not taxpayers,” Kenney tweeted Thursday night. “And they didn’t inherit millions. Nor did Laureen whinge about it.”
New Democrat Niki Ashton said it shows how out of touch the governing Liberals are with the realities that working women face today.
“Hearing statements like that certainly doesn’t speak to the reality that Canadian women face and the kind of struggles that, you know, that they’re undertaking day in, day out,” Ashton told reporters in the Commons.
“Certainly the kind of statements we heard from the prime minister’s wife, you know, speak to that disconnect with the reality that Canadian women face.”
Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc said it’s a long-standing tradition that the prime minister’s wife gets support in performing official activities she is asked to do, saying she is asked to attend an enormous number of events.