April 8 is the Day of Pink and there is controversy because the organization promoting the day has named Laureen Harper an ambassador.
Harper is quoted on the website of The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity talking about her support for the organization, though her statement mainly addressing the bullying that many kids face.
What she doesn’t address is the gender and sexual diversity part of the equation – the fact that LGBT youth face more bullying and higher risk of suicide. And, of course, the fact that her husband’s government just killed a bill that would allow trans people to use the right bathrooms. (Read more about Bill C-279).
Many people feel that she should answer for that. I disagree. We don’t have a first lady here. The Prime Minister’s wife has nothing to do with politics or policy, and because she has nothing to do with policy there is no requirement for her to answer questions or address issues people take with what the government does.
This issue was raised for me when I saw an interview with Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau (one of many, many interviews she’s been doing). This particular article was headlined “A family affair: Canada’s next First Lady?”
In the United States the First Lady has causes that she works on, she has a platform – like Hilary Clinton’s health care reform or Michelle Obama’s healthy eating and physical activity campaign. We don’t have that here. The Prime Minister’s significant other travels with him or her, hosts dignitaries, but he or she is by no means as much of a focus as the First Lady (unless she’s Margaret Trudeau).
Laureen Harper does not represent Canada by herself. She doesn’t travel internationally by herself. Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau will not be the ‘First Lady’ because no official role has ever been given to the spouse of our Prime Minister.
If she chooses her own issues and decides to become outspoken on certain things, more power to her, but nothing says the PM will listen.