Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has come under fire for accepting free gifts and clothes as a result of her new position as “First Lady” of Canada.
Based on filings Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, his wife has received some $3,000 worth of complimentary ensembles and accessories.
The items include:
- Five pairs of Aldo Shoes, provided to Grégoire Trudeau “to wear during the official visit to Washington, D.C.”
- Alan Anderson earrings, also given to the 41-year-old to wear in the U.S. capital
- A Rudsak Sweater Coat, worn by the Québec native at the funeral of René Angélil
- A Pink Tartan suit, donned by the brunette at the 2016 Catalyst Awards Conference
Items that aren’t disclosed are those Grégoire Trudeau borrowed from designers then later returned (for example, the Lucian Matis garments she wore to the White House earlier this year).
Under the rules which govern the behaviour of MPs, cabinet ministers and politicians, any gift with a value of more than $200 must be reported to Mary Dawson and logged on this website. Any present with a monetary value of more than $1,000 should be forfeited to the government.
The catch with these guidelines is they’ve never really been applicable to a Canadian “First Lady” before. That’s largely because none have had a similar celebrity status. Since taking office, she has appeared in Vogue, on the cover of Chatelaine and has been interviewed by dozens of other magazines.
To deal with this, Olivier Duchesneau, spokesperson for Trudeau’s office, spoke to the CBC and explained new rules have been set up to guide Grégoire Trudeau in her relationship with some of Canada’s top designers.
“In no situation would Ms Grégoire Trudeau accept an item of clothing or other gift that would place the prime minister in a situation of conflict of interests, whether real or apparent.”
Going forward, she’ll have to follow the same guidelines as MPs and cabinet ministers. If she receives an item worth $1,000, she’ll have the option to purchase it or give it to the Crown.
She can also donate clothing she receives to charity.
While a spokesperson for the Conservative Party of Canada declined to comment, Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, said he takes issue with the situation. He told The Huffington Post Quebec the prime minister’s wife shouldn’t be accepting gifts under any circumstance.
“It’s also just a matter of personal ethics… You don’t get that perk just because you’re the wife of the prime minister, sorry. Pay for your own clothes and jewelry and, if it’s for a one-time use, rent whatever you want to wear just like everybody else has to.”
He went on to add: “She’s a celebrity, but she’s also the spouse of the most powerful politician in the country.”
The practice of A-listers or top celebrities being gifted clothing isn’t new.
A few years ago, New York magazine found famous people get almost everything for free. Dubbed the “Celebrity Economy,” they found the average red-carpet walker “will receive about $100,000 in free goods and services annually, some in all-gratis pop-up shops and some unasked-for in the mail.”
And those are B-list and C-list stars. A-listers, like Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Aniston, take home even more.
It’s also common for designers to pay some of Hollywood’s biggest names to wear their garments for publicity sake.
For example, in 2011, Anne Hathaway reportedly made $750,000 by wearing Tiffany & Co. to the 2011 Oscars. Jennifer Lawrence made some $100,000 by wearing Chopard earrings to the 2013 Golden Globes, and Gwyneth Paltrow took home $500,000 to wear Louis Vuitton to the 2011 Oscars.
In an interview with Vanity Fair some of the industry’s most powerful stylists once said, “the astronomical fees celebrities are receiving to wear jewelry, and sometimes dresses, has gotten out of control.”