Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Prime Minister Should Be a Volunteer Position

In all of the absurd right-wing instascandal about Justin Trudeau's nannies, there are really only two questions that should be asked, and strangely, they are the two questions that are apparently not worth asking:

  1. The last three times there was a sitting Prime Minister with multiple very young children, did he or she have childcare assistants paid for by the government?
  2. Is the money for the childcare assistants coming out of the PM's house budget?
The answer to the first question is yes: this is normal. The Globe & Mail actually knows that this is normal.  It even said that this was normal practice. That didn't stop them from running an editorial in which they suggested that this was scandalous and urged people to "remember the little things" in 2019.

Which prompts me to raise question 3 for the Globe & Mail: did you raise similar faux-outrage questions against sitting prime ministers before, or is this editorial simply the latest in the series of editorials you were directed to print in support of the Conservative Party?

Question 2 matters because, well, because it matters. There hasn't been a new budget or even a new sitting of Parliament, so I doubt that the prime minister's housekeeping budget has been increased to absorb the cost. Presumably it is coming from within the budget. Evidently unlike the very easily scandalized right-wing press, I do not particularly care whether the prime minister and his family use their house budget to buy nannies for their young children or food for the world's largest collection of rescued stray cats (to give one not-entirely-hypothetical example).

The reason that the media strays away from such questions, however, is that they are partisan and right-wing. If Harper had been prime minister, had three young children, and had nannies, it is a fairly safe bet that we would not be reading in the Globe & Mail about how this was a terrible scandal because it unjustly inflates his $330,000 a year salary.

Instead, we would probably be reading in the Globe & Mail the truth: that the Prime Minister's generous compensation package includes quite a variety of perks in addition to that salary, including a budget to hire paid help for his house, which could include a chef, or a gardener, or a nanny for his children, or even, for that matter, an official dog-walker.

In the meantime, the same media seems quite placid about our wealthy prime minister having a gardener he could have paid himself, a security detail that he could have paid for in part at least out of his private funds, and for that matter, a fancy taxpayer-covered house even though he could perfectly well afford to rent luxury accommodations anywhere in Ottawa.

So that's my editorial position, which I dare the Globe & Mail or any other newspaper to have the integrity to echo: nothing more for prime ministers. It should be a volunteer position only. If you really want to lead the country, you don't deserve any compensation for doing it. Obviously in such circumstances the only people who would take the job are people who really want it and would be good at it.

Like Doug Ford.

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