She can NOT handle 3 kids, But can she cook?

She can NOT handle 3 kids on her on, But can she cook?

If the wife of the Canadian prime minister must have help to look after her children at taxpayers’ expense, then the least she can do is prepare the meals and possibly look after the garden, too. The man of the house is too busy. He can’t even shovel the snow or paint the house, never mind fix the leaky faucet.

Only in Canada would the hiring of two nannies for a prime minister with three children under the age of eight erupt into an issue about tax fairness and abuse of power. Can’t they just leave the toddlers with friends in Montreal, or maybe the neighbours? There must be some Ottawa MPs with wives who could help out on those days when the Trudeaus can’t fulfil their parental duties.

Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose said Trudeau should be paying the nanny bill himself, while Tory MP Robert Sopuck of Dauphin-Swan River accused the prime minister of “dipping into taxpayers’ pockets to help him pay someone else to raise his children.”

The NDP said the Trudeaus weren’t paying the nannies enough. They are paid between $15 and $20 an hour during the day, and $11 to $13 an hour for night shifts. No charge for international travel.

Mr. Trudeau has also been accused of hypocrisy for criticizing the Conservatives over their universal child-care benefit and income splitting for families on the grounds rich families such as his did not need the help.

So, why can’t Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, dip into their savings and pay for child care, particularly since they are well off?

The Official Residence Act says cabinet can appoint “a steward or housekeeper and such other employees” deemed necessary for managing the prime minister’s residence. These employees are also allowed to hire casual employees for help in managing the household. The official chauffeur “may be provided lodging without charge.”

The question, then, is whether the nannies are necessary to help in the management of the residence. The question could also be asked about the chef, the gardener, the housekeeper and others.

Somehow, these jobs are necessary, but nannies, well, they’re a luxury, something only blue bloods use because they’re too busy or too lazy to look after their own children.

Ms. Grégoire gave up her career as a Montreal-based TV reporter several years ago after her children were born, but she has been active in several causes, including gender equality and children’s rights.

As wife of the prime minister, she has travelled with him around the world with the children in tow. She has yet to define a personal role, but her history suggests she will want to do more than bake cookies in bare feet in the kitchen.

Indeed, while the role of prime minister’s spouse is less defined in Canada than in the United States, there is an expectation she or he will be more than a stay-at-home parent.

The Trudeaus will be a busy couple, with a 24/7 schedule, and it is unreasonable to expect them to bear the full burden of child rearing without assistance. In fact, it would be impossible for them to meet public expectations without support.

Former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau reportedly hired nannies to raise his three boys, while Brian Mulroney employed a taxpayer-funded maid who “interfaced with the children in a habitual way,” whatever that means. And that was when he was Opposition leader.

This is not the same as paying $16 for a glass of orange juice in a pricey London hotel, as former Conservative cabinet minister Bev Oda famously did. That was abuse of the public purse.

Like any prime ministerial family, the Trudeaus are entitled to the support they require to perform their roles as Canada’s first family.