07/25/2016 04:37 EDT | Updated 07/26/2016 12:59 EDT

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau Criticized For Accepting Gifts, Clothing Loans From Designers

Under current regulations, all gifts over $200 in value are disclosed to a registry.

OTTAWA - A citizen's advocacy group is accusing Sophie Grégoire Trudeau of being "for sale" because she accepts gifts and clothing loans from Canadian designers.

"Pay for your own clothes, like everyone else has to, and rent them if it’s for a special event, like everyone else has to," said Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch. "She’s a celebrity, but she’s also the spouse of the most powerful politician in the country."

Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau in a Lucian Matis gown, stands next to Michelle Obama, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama before a state dinner at the White House March 10, 2016. (Photo: Brendan SmialowskiAFP/Getty Images)

According to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's public registry, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has received clothes, jewelry, and shoes worth a total of $3,000.

On the list is:

  • Rudsak coat she wore to the funeral of René Angélil
  • Pink Tartan tuxedo suit worn during an awards ceremony in New York
  • Ellie Mae jacket, Alan Anderson earrings and five pairs of Aldo shoes for her official trip to Washington.

Under current regulations, all gifts over $200 in value must be disclosed to the registry. Loans with rental value over $200 must also be reported. Those valued at more than $1,000 must be forfeited to the Crown.

But the outfits at special events, like the dresses by Canadian designer Lucian Matis that Grégoire Trudeau wore at the White House, don't qualify in this category because they were samples that have no market value.

Matis said he wanted to give them to the prime minister's wife to thank her for all the publicity, but she "kindly declined" and returned them afterward.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, seen wearing a tuxedo suit by Pink Tartan, arrive for the 2016 Catalyst Awards dinner in New York on March 16, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Even if Grégoire Trudeau has only received a few gifts in the last eight months and pays for most of her own clothes, Conacher said the PM's wife should still not be accepting free items.

"It’s also just a matter of personal ethics," he told The Huffington Post Quebec. "You don’t get that perk just because you’re the wife of the prime minister, sorry. Pay for your own clothes and jewelry and, if it’s for a one-time use, rent whatever you want to wear just like everybody else has to.”

Wearing a dress by Lucian Matis, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau greets U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during an arrival ceremony at the White House on March 10, 2016. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Most designers are obliged to spend thousands of dollars in order to see their creations worn by a celebrity, said Matis. That's why he was so happy to see the Grégoire Trudeau wearing not one but two of his dresses in Washington.

"I believe her focus on Canadian designers brings attention to the fact that there is an abundance of talent in Canada and that Canadian consumers should be aware when they purchase garments as to where they are manufactured," wrote Mathis in an email to HuffPost.

Québéc designer Duy Nguyen from DUY agrees, calling it "a very great honour" to have Grégoire Trudeau wear his custom pearl grey suit when she arrived in Washington.

Wearing a DUY suit, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau greets children in Washington, D.C. in March. (Photo: Cliff Owen/AP via CP)

Some of the brands worn by Grégoire Trudeau have used the visibility to promote themselves on social media or on their website.

"I think that part [supporting these designers] is fine," said Conacher. "It’s no different from her going to a news conference and saying 'I support this cause or that cause.' But if she’s taking gifts to do that, she’s saying 'I’m for sale'."

According to the Prime Minister's Office, Grégoire Trudeau is "proud to support Canadian designers and will continue to promote their work." All the gifts received will be reported to the public registry as required.

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