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Damn Straight, We Should Be Paying For Trudeau's Nannies

12/02/2015 01:57 EST | Updated 12/02/2016 05:12 EST
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This is why people hate politicians. No, not Trudeau. The Conservatives using this nannygate non-scandal against him as a cheap political ploy to puncture his post-election popularity.

The accusation of hypocrisy over government-paid nannies to help with the prime minister's three young children feels petty and penny-ante. But as a parent, it's also incredibly insulting because of what it reveals about the lack of value and importance that these people put in child care.

Now the line that Conservatives like finance critic Lisa Raitt are peddling is that it's hypocritical because Trudeau slammed Stephen Harper's child-care tax plan.

"He is one of the one per cent and he was speaking on behalf of them when he said 'we think we can pay a little bit more, I'm going to reject personally the Universal Child Care Benefit,'" Raitt said to the CBC. "But then in another guise [he] does accept taxpayer dollars ... so that he can care for his kids by the use of two nannies funded by the state. I think that's hypocritical and I think he should take it out of his own salary."

Oh, and speaking of hypocrisy, the UCCB was a total election season con job. The CBC crunched the numbers and discovered that because it was taxable, and replaced an existing tax credit, the promised $720 added benefit for an Ontario parent would be $158.22 a year, or $13.18 a month net. It would be even less in many other provinces with higher marginal tax rate.

That's where the Conservative's true colours come out. They don't really think the government should be in the business of childcare at all, or else there would have been a national strategy to address this crisis during their decade in power.

And it is indeed a crisis. The Hamilton Spectator reports that there are currently "regulated spaces for only one in five children. For many Canadian families, child care is the second highest household expense -- one that many are unable to afford, especially with more than one child."

Raitt also groused that "the only man in Canada who makes $325,000 a year who is going to get taxpayer dollars for his child care is the prime minister of Canada and I think that's wrong." This, of course, is more hypocrisy. For one thing, Trudeau was discussing a national policy, not the singular situation of the prime minister. And while Raitt may have paid for her own child care as a cabinet minister, there are plenty of added responsibilities and expenditures when it comes to the big gig.

By the way, the two women, who have additional job requirements beyond being "secondary caregivers," will be paid between $15 and $20 an hour during the day and between $11 and $13 at night. (If any attack is valid, it's the NDP line that they're not being paid enough, but just imagine the blow back if they were paid above market rates.)

The Globe and Mail editorial board complained about this "largesse," while also admitting that "no one expects Mr. Trudeau to pay the gardener at 24 Sussex Drive, or pick up the car payments for the motorcade. He doesn't have to gas up the plane or vacuum the carpets."

Nope, that's because he's the prime minister and so he lives in a taxpayer-funded house with a taxpayer-funded car and taxpayer-funded guards, etc. etc. etc.

The notion that childcare should not be included among these is an affront to all working parents and our childcare providers.

This attitude is why we don't have a national child-care strategy that could actually make the situation better for families with single parents or two working parents. Which, by the way, is most of us.

CTV reported that in 2014 a full 69 percent of couple families with a child under 16 -- 1.9 million families total -- were dual-income. "In other words, couple families with one stay-at-home parent represented less than one-fifth of couple families with children in 2014, down from more than half in 1976." The report also said that 69 per cent of single mothers and 82 per cent of single fathers were employed.

A lot has changed since Justin was raised by a nanny at 24 Sussex after his mother, Margaret Trudeau, left his prime ministerial pops. Nobody made a big deal about that at the time because Pierre was a single man. Brian Mulroney also had a nanny, but by then it became a quasi-scandal. He reportedly said he'd pay out of pocket and then never did. Laureen Harper, meanwhile, decided to quit her job and be a stay-at-home mom.

There's nothing wrong with that, but it's sexist to assume that Sophie should be minding the kids rather that out fulfilling other national roles. It is no longer 1976 and stay-at-home parents are a tiny minority.

Until our politicians take child care seriously, we are not going to be able to help the vast majority of parents dealing with a lack of daycare spots and a lack of money to pay for them.

My own kid was put in a daycare waiting list while still in utero and when he finally got in, the cost was astronomical, though the care provided was wonderful. These women were with my child many more hours than I was during the week, so I honestly couldn't think of any more important of a job.

It would be hypocritical for me to buy into nannygate and claim that the government should not be paying for Trudeau's nannies because I think they matter. Yes, even more so than the taxpayer-funded gardener. But really the government should be paying for more than Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien. This is about all of our kids.

We already have universal education and universal health care and because of dramatic increase in working parents over the past few decades, it's become time to bring in universal child care, too. After all, I hear they're our future and everything.

Justin Trudeau's Kids At His Swearing-In Ceremony