The180·The 180

Shaming vacationing politicians could scare women away from politics, says Hill writer

Former Parliamentary Hill reporter Jennifer Ditchburn says shaming Justin Trudeau for being on vacation, dismisses the idea of work-life balance in politics. She argues that type of balance is one governments across Canada are trying to improve, in part so that they can attract more women.
This image released by the Conservative Party makes fun of the off-duty prime minister's appearances on social media in various shirtless encounters on family vacation. (The Conservative Party/Twitter)

There are plenty of ways to react to the photo below: 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau smiled as he watched a bride walk down the aisle during her wedding in Tofino, B.C. (Marnie Recker Photography)

Or this one: 

(Jim Godby)

For the Conservative Party of Canada and the CBC's This Hour Has 22 MInutes, it's been fodder for making fun of the Prime Minister. 

But Jennifer Ditchburn argues shaming Justin Trudeau for taking a vacation, shirtless or not, endangers the initiatives underway across Canada to strike a better work-life balance for people in politics. 

"There's a message sent to everybody that's interested in joining federal politics or any level of politics and that's 'you don't deserve to get any time off, you deserve to be working 24-7, and if you do try to take off time with your family you're going to get shamed for it."

(Jennifer Ditchburn/Twitter)

Ditchburn, the current editor-in-chief of Policy Options and a former parliamentary reporter, says there is actually a study underway on Parliament Hill to alleviate the pressure on families. 

"It's not a great place to work if you want to keep a connection to your family," she says,

Ditchburn argues the kind of shaming Trudeau was subjected to, could prevent women from entering politics because it raises two questions: what do Canadians expect from their elected officials and do those officials deserve any time off? 

There's a message sent to everybody ... if you do try to take off time with your family you're going to get shamed for it.-Jennifer Ditchburn

She says those issues matter to women who are interested in politics, because women often still act as the main caregivers for children.

"If you talk to women who are interested in politics, that's one of the things that puts them off is am I ever going to see my children? Am I going to have time to spend with my family?"

Click the play button above to hear Jennifer Ditchburn's full interview.


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