Be careful with who you’re blaming for government mess-ups

Remember that Christmas holiday Justin Trudeau took with his family in the Caribbean? Cute photos, nice weather, tabloid coverage, et al.? If the answer is “no,” that’s OK, because it’s not actually as big a story as you might think — unless you’re a Conservative MP, that is.

See, the recent gossip is that some of the Trudeaus’ travel companions had their names redacted from the flight manifest. As it turns out, the Trudeaus were joined by nanny Marian Pueyo, as well as Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s parents, Jean Grégoire and Estelle Blais.

Controversy surrounding the new prime ministerial clan has already blossomed over the discovery that the public’s taxes are paying for things like nannies for Justin and Sophie’s children, and the extra security plus specialized flights required for their vacations. The redaction, followed by such a seemingly innocuous revelation, has set many political figures on edge. Some, such as MP Blaine Calkins in an interview with CBC, have gone so far as to say that it “smacks of a coverup.”

I understand the frustration. A lack of transparency is bad enough; an unnecessary lack is even more so. But this fuss is about minutia that Trudeau’s opponents are taking advantage of: championing “honesty” not because of any serious breach, but because they want an excuse to criticize the prime minister. It’s time to put down the “controversy” surrounding this undying adventure.

It’s not like Trudeau personally dived into the records and illegally destroyed information; the redactions were a decision made by national security, and I assume he has every reason to trust them to do their jobs correctly. That their judgment slipped in this case is hardly a bad reflection on him.

As for Trudeau overspending on his holidays? He doesn’t have much choice. Canada’s prime minister isn’t allowed to take ordinary commercial flights when he travels, because of the security risks. Sure, maybe losing out on exotic vacation destinations is a first world problem, but punishing his family for his job still seems unreasonable.

Besides, Trudeau actually did personally pay out quite a bit for that trip. While taxpayer dollars cover some expenses, the PM and pals still pay the equivalent to economy-class fare. Relax, guys — he’s not using you to gallivant across the land for free.

As for non-family member Pueyo? Of course the government paid her travel costs: she’s their employee, and it’s totally legal for them to do that for a residential staff member. Frankly, why would anyone see a job that requires you to pay enough money for a Caribbean visit as anything but counterproductive? Who would willingly take a job like that?

None of this is new procedure, either: Harper was doing it too. His New York weekend with his family in 2011 for baseball and Broadway expended $45,000 in taxpayer money.

I’m not saying that these are invalid concerns; there’s definitely merit to arguing against this, and critically analyzing your country’s leadership is important. But if you’re fighting for better allocation of your money and better transparency, stop blaming the guy who’s been in office for under a year. Political issues like this typically don’t trace back to just one person, and the problems people have come from long-standing policies and institutions.

That’s what we should focus our energies on challenging — not the three people you didn’t know were flying with Trudeau’s family.