Another day, another attempt to manufacture outrage by Canada’s conservative media ecosystem.

This time, it’s over the prime minister’s two-week summer vacation, one that has outlets like True North tweeting: “Amid concerns about a looming recession in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hitting the beaches of Costa Rica for a two-week vacation — and taxpayers are paying for big parts of it.”

Even mainstream outlets like The Canadian Press, Global News and the CBC are treating his decision to take a well-deserved break as a legitimate news story. If there’s an upside to this latest apparent outrage, it’s that we’ve moved on from talking about the prime minister’s haircut.

Family vacations have long played a starring role in the Trudeau narrative. But the relentless focus on how and where he spends his private time — and yes, prime ministers deserve to have some of that, too — is about more than just the media’s inability to take their eyes off him. It’s also yet another red flag for anyone considering running for public office, especially if they happen to have young children.

In an August 2016 piece for Policy Options, Jennifer Ditchburn pointed out the contrast between the attention paid to the Trudeau family’s vacations and the broader conversations about the importance of work-life balance. This problem isn’t exclusive to Liberal prime ministers: “Anyone who has worked in or around politics knows what the life is like,” Ditchburn wrote. “There isn’t any real time off, the BlackBerry is always on, someone is always asking for something. Keeping marriages together is tough.”

On some level, this is understandable. Politics is a high-stress, high-pressure job, and there are any number of other professions out there that exact a similar toll. But while other careers and workplaces have made strides in the direction of a better work-life balance, politics and public life have probably gone backwards over the last decade. That’s because of the growing influence of social media, which can make it nearly impossible for elected officials to disconnect and decompress the way they used to — and the way they need to.

The challenge here — well, one of them — is that eliciting sympathy for elected officials is only slightly less difficult than trying to increase the popularity of colonoscopies. A member of Parliament makes $185,800, has paid staff and travel and can earn a very generous pension with just six years of service. Of course, this is the job they signed up for, even if they didn’t necessarily understand how taxing it might be. Of all the world’s problems, the mental health of politicians ranks about as low on the list as you can get.

But there is a cost here that we all pay, and it comes in the form of elected bodies that don’t accurately represent the population at large. As of the last election, just over 30 per cent of MPs were women, a proportion that puts Canada in 59th place worldwide. This isn’t just a bad thing if you’re a self-described feminist (or “woke,” as conservatives seem to love saying these days). It’s also bad if you’re a participating member of society and want to see less inequality and more justice.

As has been documented time and time again, having more women serve in elected roles would result in better and more representative decision-making. Or, as Vox’s Sarah Kiff wrote in 2017, “Women legislators are more likely to introduce legislation that specifically benefits women. They’re better at bringing funding back to their home districts. And, to put it bluntly, they just get more shit done: A woman legislator, on average, passed twice as many bills as a male legislator in one recent session of Congress.”

Opinion: If we want to ensure that our elected bodies look like the public they’re created to serve, we need to stop punishing the people in them for having private lives that include children and families, writes columnist @maxfawcett. #Trudeau

They also have to deal with a whole range of deterrents their male colleagues don’t. As the late Anne Kingston wrote in 2019: “Female politicians remain hindered by systemic biases, sexism, and double standards, be it in media coverage, threats of violence, and hateful online trolling.” It’s not hard to see how the excessive focus on how political leaders spend their family time would only add to this unequal burden. “One wonders what message women interested in federal politics drew from the coverage of the Trudeau family vacation (to Tofino, B.C., in 2016),” Ditchburn wrote in her Policy Options piece. “Maybe ‘Don’t even think about taking time off with your kids.’”

If we want to ensure that our elected bodies look like the public they’re created to serve, we need to stop punishing the people in them for having private lives that include children and families. And if we want to avoid having them filled with political lifers and professional masochists, we need to be willing to cut those elected officials a break now and then.

That means letting them, including our prime ministers, take a vacation once in a while. Regardless of their partisan stripes, they’ve more than earned it.

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I totally agree. If we want to have good people who have the mental capacities to do the important job of running the country, they need a break now and then. And they need to spend time with their families. Where is the work/ life balance for politicians?

I am so tired of the Trudeau-bashing that is so prevalent right now. And I'm concerned about the rise in hate and vitriol targeted against many MP's, MLA's and municipal .leaders. It is weakening our democracy.

Truly. Social media is starting to look like one of those worst ideas we ever had. It's "plucking the heart out of our mystery," and it's a bit of a petty, nasty grinch heart it turns out, with a misogyny so deep it's invisible to most except discerning women. When we're reduced to talking about Trudeau's haircut for gods' sake, the regular media at least should know better, but we have to remember who "owns" it, even though "lamestream media" or "liberal media" have become talking points for the right. The complete inaccuracy of that sums up what's happening right now with the truth.
The continued "bothsidesism" is a dangerous travesty at this point but I continue to see it with the Globe and Mail headlines, which speak volumes, and then there's their reliable endorsement of conservatives during elections. Like the subtle tactics of denying climate change, in the last one they declined to OPENLY endorse anybody, and with Harper's last election they still endorsed cons but with the caveat of them needing a new leader.
The white-hot hatred of Trudeau has become a truly shocking phenomenon that also has to have increased the security expenses for him generally, which of course the braying, tight-fisted cons never consider. Putting two and two together is not their strong suit so mindless social media algorithms are perfect for all those guy guys battling women in power. For them, the only thing worse than that is "girly-men" in power, which they see Trudeau as. Joe Rogan would suit them, or Alex Jones.

I'm not tired of Trudeau-bashing as such. But I prefer it to be about real things, ideally fairly important things. There are a moderate number of those. Bugging him about taking a two week vacation is pointless and mean-spirited and shows no sense of decency.
And really, "amid concerns about blah blah blah" . . . what nonsense. There's always SOMETHING happening, and yet they couldn't even come up with an actual event; if we're gonna be banned from taking a vacation whenever alt-righters feel a sense of vague malaise, that break time will be a long while coming.

Hard to understand why you're not tired of "Trudeau-bashing as such" when it has taken on the proportions it has with the convoy being primarily about that, and a brewery pub in P.E.I. ends up getting the company van's windshield broken simply because they spoke positively of having Trudeau visit there recently. And that was on top of the what have become common streams of vitriol condemning them and their business wholesale. This is both unprecedented and alarming, going beyond just the pettiness of his bloody socks and personal mannerisms. His boyish enthusiasm, lisping at times, although weirdly loathed by so many because it runs counter to their manly "leader" ideal, can also be seen as a fresh perspective much needed right now. And he's grooming a woman to follow him, proof positive of that.

Good perspective. Pierre Populism would be just opposite.

He's proven to be quite good at positioning women to clean up his messes, or do his dirty work for him.
Listen: I'd have voted for him in a thumb-snap, had it been between him and a Conservative. He's still proven himself to be ... unh ... not fit for purpose.
The difference is, I suppose, that I fault him for thing he's actually done or promised and then neglected to do, a quite different thing from making stuff up.

True enough but it's a bit like Joe Biden with this miserable approval rating despite steering his wildly fractious country in a good direction against many significant odds, big picture. The philosophy of the political party is more important than any individual, never more so than now. Getting too bogged down in the cult of personality is a conservative type of distraction after all.
As far as the championing of women goes, I agree that the treatment of Jody Wilson Raybould and Jane Philpott in particular flew right in the face of Trudeau's declared philosophy, I was also angered by that, but on the other hand Chrystia Freeland IS being groomed as leader. We're lucky overall.

Did you read what I wrote? It would appear not. "But I prefer it to be about real things, ideally fairly important things."
I bash Trudeau because the man takes many very bad substantive political actions, many of them diametrically opposed to his professed principles. And then lies about it. The dang pipeline is just the tip of the iceberg. He's in the pocket of big oil, indeed he seems to bow with the wind of every deep-pocketed donor to the Liberal party. The man is corrupt--perhaps not to the core, it often feels like there is some vestigial sense of wanting to do the right thing, if only it didn't offend any rich people, but for practical purposes that feeling that he wistfully wishes he did have integrity does not make much difference to his policies.

I don't bash him for existing, or for his delivery style, or for his socks or whatever. But unless he changes his policies, bashing him for those will never go out of style for me. It would seem your position, to the contrary, is that because people have made hay out of irrelevancies, we should compensate by giving him a free pass for any and all conduct while in office.

I did read what you read and I agree about the important things and his odd predilection for doing the worst things in a sort of covert "just watch me" fashion that may be derivative since his father must have been a tough act to follow and he may have lost him before some things were worked out there. So he might be a bit of a pushover for powerful, confident business men. But he also seems to like a fight, and seeing how much more infuriatingly provocative the conservatives are all the time, and how nasty and personal they have made it, sometimes I think he just does things to taunt them.
My point was the increasing level of personal threat that social media is rife with. When I first went online and with facebook several years ago I was truly stunned. So that's where I'm coming from. Seeing Alex Jones cornered finally has been the best thing the last couple of days; he's been wreaking havoc for a surprisingly long time.

Sorry, I meant I did read what you wrote....

Our Conservatives can't think of any thing else other than hate and personal attacks. They claim scandals but fail to read the list of Harper scandals. Or Kenney in Alberta. One a week for 3 years, my goodness !

A rather odd justaposition of issues: Trudeau's "private vacations," and shoddy treatment of women in government Hopefully he paid for this vacation himself, and didn't accept gifts from geo-politically questionable "friends"), or double-dip by "doubling up" on government work and family vacation time (ISTR a whole huge scandal around something similar but actually costing government nothing: an MP taking a night's layover on the way back home, and visiting a friend).
Can the author have forgotten about the treatment of Jody Wilson-Raybould, Jane Philpott, Corina Gould, and gosh, there was one other neophyte MP made cabinet minster, who announced Trudeau's lies for him.

Completely agree, and would go further. As a wealthy, supposedly civilized country, we need to start calling out hate speech wherever it happens. The Conservative tendency to personalize issues, name call, and spew hatred of any of our elected officials should be challenged, wherever it happens.

Its not that hard. We can all do it. Tell the friend or neighbour ranting about how bad T. is, that you're offended by hate speech. Suggest they discuss issues not personalities. There is a house near where our daughter lives that has a large F Trudeau sign on his balcony.

It shouldn't be too hard to tell that family they're shaming the neighbourhood. We didn't vote for him, but he is our Prime Minister. Talking trash about our elected officials won't be as easy when the haters have succeeded in installing their preferred strong man. And as for women in politics? Fascists believe we belong in the home, having babies for the imperial armies.

We need to defend all our freedoms now, including the rights of elected officials to take family vacations. The fascistic tide rising around the world needs to be named. A few history lessons from the 30's and 40s need to be revisited.

Then perhaps we'll have the courage to tell would be leaders: One more dog whistle that's racist, sexist, homophobic, or inherently violent, and I'm going to work hard to make you a blip in history.