Mean Girls – How Opposition Politicians Love to Attack Sophie Gregoire Trudeau

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau made the mistake of telling Quebec newspaper, Le Soleil, last week that she felt overwhelmed by the requests being made of her as the prime minister’s wife and thought she needed help to meet the demands.


Niki Ashton, NDP MP, Churchill—Keewatinook Aski

Every woman in Canada can take a lesson from the reaction provoked by her confession. Best to keep your pie hole shut. Because the knives will come out quicker than you can say the word hypocrite.

Niki Ashton, NDP MP for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, Manitoba, population 85,148, took out the long blade.

“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. So if we’re going … to talk about women feeling overwhelmed, let’s talk about everyday Canadian women feeling overwhelmed.”

Candace Bergen, CPC MP from Portage-Lisgar, Manitoba, population 91,019, and one of the more rabid dogs in the former Harper government, bared her well-used teeth, saying, as if to a four-year-old, that being in the family of the prime minister was a big job that comes with sacrifices.


Candace Bergen, CPC MP, Portage-Lisgar

“It really is the hypocrisy of Mr. Trudeau at this point always wanting more, always wanting more to do self-promotion, to do vanity trips, to do the things that he likes to do,” Bergen said. “I think that’s where the challenge is and where a lot of Canadians would question more.”

So Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, mother of three small children, supporter of the empowerment of girls for many years before her political life, who had a successful career that she put on hold to help her husband with his, got the jagged knife, not in the back but in a full frontal from two lady politicians.

Imagine the NDP and CPC communications brain trust smirking with satisfaction like Death Eaters around Lucius Malfoy’s dining room table, political chops drooling in anticipation of a feast when they heard about Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau’s admission. She walked right into that one. How clever we are! It’s going to be a good day. We can score a talking point—on the back of a woman. How clever we are! Our constituency loves to hate her. She can be the red meat we use to feed the base. How clever we are!

And two women—Niki Ashton and Candace Bergen– were only happy to execute the day’s media strategy delighted to ridicule another woman for the godawful gumption to say she felt she needed help. Elitist. Out of touch. Not willing to sacrifice. She personifies self-promotion.

They themselves, of course, have five, six or more Parliamentary and constituency staff to look after the interests of their Manitoba ridings, where I’m sure they are continually fending off requests to participate in all manners civic life and represent the good people of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski and Portage-Lisgar on the national and international stage.

And what’s the overarching message to women by the personal attack on Gregoire Trudeau? Don’t complain, don’t ask for help and keep it zipped. Talking about your needs is worthy of derision.


Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau attended a “spousal program” with Michelle Obama in honour of girls’ education around the world, an issue that is close to Grégoire-Trudeau’s heart. (CLIFF OWEN/TORONTO STAR)

Ironically, it’s left up to CBC’s, Neil MacDonald, the unlikely Joan of Arc of the story, to defend Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau as he did in a column on Saturday, The hacking of tall poppy Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. This, after he wrote a column in October, Let’s give Margaret Trudeau the respect she deserves, apologizing in a moving and personal way for the way he and many other journalists wrote about Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau’s mother-in-law, when she was the wife of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

There were more than 6,000 comments responding to MacDonald’s column. The vast majority are ugly and reveal the an underlying current of misogyny in this country that you don’t have to scratch too hard to get at. Here’s a sampling of what people said:

“This attention was not thrust upon Sophie. She chose to put herself out there in the limelight from day one.

“She should be given billions of dollars to flutter around, because, after all, she’s better than the rest of us?”

“It’s not like she is vain and poses for magazines or anything like that.”

“What’s next on her wish list? Glass slippers, horse drawn carriage? Give me a break.”

“Sophie can get over herself and deal with the stress…she knew what she was getting into when she hooked up with the Trudeau’s.”

So the next time Niki f*ckng Ashton wishes us a Happy International Women’s Day or Candace Bergen, that foul-mouthed attack dog of the right, says anything about childcare, I might, like, retch, okay?

Because these people are mean people and will say anything to score a political point. They couldn’t give two shits about the broader message it sends.

Even if its a message that eats away at the lives and credibility of girls and women. Don’t dare ask for “too much.”


Cartoon by Montréal Simon


Author Photo 01 Sandy Tam PhotographyGail Picco is a strategist and nonprofit executive who has worked in the charity sector for 25 years, most of which as President of Gail Picco Associates. Prior to establishing Gail Picco Associates, she spent eight years working in a shelter for assaulted women and children. She is the author of What the Enemy Thinks, a recent novel set in the nonprofit sector, of Your Working Girl, a blog of memoir and commentary on politics, charity and popular culture, and writes a regular column for Hilborn Charity News. She is a Principal with The Osborne Group in Toronto and Chair of the Regent Park Film Festival.

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