Canadians are jumping to Margaret Trudeau's defence amid the WE scandal
Margaret Trudeau is under fire after it came to light on Thursday that she accepted $250,000 in exchange for appearing at WE charity events in recent years, according to a Canadaland report.
The Canadian author and mental health advocate has since become embroiled in the ongoing WE charity scandal, which has also expanded to involve the Prime Minister's brother Alexandre and even Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Now, many Canadians are leaping to Margaret Trudeau's defence, arguing that her role in the charity scandal shouldn't be conflated with her son's actions.
As if Madame Margaret Trudeau has not suffered enough in her life, she is dragged into a media frenzy to score political points on her son.— Abdul Nakua (@AbdulNakua) July 10, 2020
I find this reprehensible to the point of becoming shameful.
Madame Trudeau deserves better. pic.twitter.com/lEvFqEsyb5
Some people are pointing out that Margaret Trudeau has a lengthy history of advocating for mental health programs, as well as speaking out about her own struggles with bipolar disorder.
For 15 years, Margaret Trudeau acted as the honorary president of WaterAid, a charitable Canadian agency that helps communities in developing countries build sustainable water-supply services, before retiring in 2017.
"I've been with [WaterAid] for 25 years and it's been the most consistently good part of my life," she told Canadian Living in 2016. "I've had a rock and roll life to say the least, and I've always found that, in my worst times, if I could just get up the energy to get out there and do something for someone else, I would get out of my low place."
She also sits on the Executive Advisory Board of the UBC Mental Health Institute as a community advocate.
President Obama invited Margaret Trudeau to the White House dinner in Honour of the Prime Minister of Canada and she was given a standing ovation for her advocacy work for mental illness as well as other contributions. She was not introduced as "Justin's mother"!— Cobalt (@CobaltCate) July 9, 2020
Other Canadians are taking issue with the fact that Margaret Trudeau's long career of being an author, actress, philanthropist and photographer has been boiled down to simply being Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's mother.
"Margaret Trudeau has been a wonderful advocate for mental health programs for decades," one person wrote. "Reducing her to 'the PM's mother' really pisses me off. If there's one thing young women need it's an advocate."
"It's this aspect of the coverage that really bothers me," another person wrote. "They're saying only way she could get work is from nepotism. They're labe[l]ling her a grifter. I have so much respect for her. This is unconscionable."
Is this the 1950? Where a woman is valued not by her own accomplishments but by whatever it is the men in her life happen to be doing. How dare she earn a living with speaking engagements, she couldn’t possibly have anything worthwhile to say or contribute.— Nora Heuer (@NoraHeuer) July 10, 2020
Some Canadians are even pointing out the double standard that comes with calling out Margaret Trudeau for accepting paid speaking positions, while former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other male politicians continue to do so without reprimand.
Margaret Trudeau was given a speaking fee of about $9,000 per appearance; in 2018, Maclean's reported that Harper receives about $50,000 for each appearance.
Admittedly, it's difficult to compare the two since Harper's family members aren't government officials awarding a $900 million contract directly tied to his appearances, but it raises an interesting point nevertheless.
ME to WE sold tickets to 28 fundraisers at which Margaret Trudeau was one of the several paid speakers. She was paid less than $9000 per event; Harper gets $10,000 and she is a helluva lot more interesting. #IStandWithTrudeau #FactsMatter pic.twitter.com/ybdEb2UM5O— anne boleyn (@Coolermama) July 10, 2020
Nobody is denying that there are major issues with how the WE charity contract was handled. Politicians with ties to the charity like Trudeau and Morneau are being scrutinized for not recusing themselves from voting on a $900 million contract, for example — and rightfully so.
Similarly, the news that Margaret and Alexandre Trudeau were paid for their appearances is troubling in that it contradicts an earlier claim by WE Charity that no member of the Trudeau family had been paid for their work.
But Canadians are pointing out that Margaret Trudeau's involvement should be considered separately, considering that she didn't have a direct role in awarding the contract to WE Charity.
"Margaret Trudeau has been speaking at events for decades," one person wrote. "Why shouldn't she get paid? It's not her fault WE didn't tell the truth."
"Margaret Trudeau does speaking engagements on mental health separate from her son," another person wrote. "I had hoped we were past a woman has value only in relation to a man but maybe the press is not there yet."
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