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Trudeau posted on social media post about going to the movies with his son. So much for privacy

Michael TaubeWhen an individual or group speaks of the need for privacy, most of us have a pretty good understanding of what this entails. It shouldn’t really be something we need to discuss or debate at any great length.

Alas, when it comes to our country’s leader, nothing seems to be out of the question.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, jointly announced their separation on their Instagram accounts on Aug. 2.

Trudeau’s official statement was as follows:

“Hi everyone, Sophie and I would like to share the fact that after many meaningful and difficult conversations, we have made the decision to separate. As always, we remain a close family with deep love and respect for each other and for everything we have built and will continue to build. For the well-being of our children, we ask that you respect our and their privacy. Thank you.”

Justin-Trudeau privacy

@justinpjtrudeau / Instagram

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His message was crafted in a pretty straightforward manner. It was a reasonable request, too.

A mere four days later, the narrative changed.

Trudeau posted a photo on social media on Aug. 6 with his eldest son, Xavier. They’re both wearing pink – the PM with a hoodie, while his son has a t-shirt – and are standing in front of a Barbie poster at a movie theatre. “We’re team Barbie,” reads the caption.

The image predictably went viral on social media. Over 35.3 million people have viewed it on X (the old Twitter) as of this writing. It’s been liked over 205,000 times on Instagram. These numbers continue to skyrocket.

What was the point? Many pundits, commentators, columnists and average people have expressed their opinions. Some ideas have been intelligent and thought-provoking, while others less so (or not at all).

Could it have been less-than-subtle political messaging on the PM’s part to provoke a reaction from his opponents and critics? It’s possible. The Barbie movie has been criticized in some conservative circles of interest as an example of progressivism and wokeness.

Did the PM simply want to post a photo of him and Xavier enjoying a movie together? That’s possible, too. He’s been called the “Selfie King” and “king of the selfie” with good reason, after all.

Is the PM trying to rebuild his old, tattered image as a liberal feminist? Does he deserve criticism for using his son as a prop when he could have taken it alone? Are people going overboard with their support and rejection of this photo?

These are all fair questions, and contain an assortment of answers.

What do I think?

If Trudeau wants to take a photo with his son at the movies, so be it. The image isn’t a professional look for a world leader. It’s not a film I would ever go see. The pink attire looks ridiculous. That’s neither here nor there, of course.

The only thing I found relevant was his unusual definition of privacy.

Merriam-Webster defines privacy as “the quality or state of being apart from company or observation” (i.e. seclusion), and the “freedom from unauthorized intrusion” (i.e. one’s right to privacy). While it’s obviously Trudeau’s decision to shine a light on his family, these two definitions don’t square with what he wrote in his separation announcement, “For the well-being of our children, we ask that you respect our and their privacy.” In many ways, they run counter to his original request.

How so?

Trudeau and his wife asked for privacy. It was a general request that didn’t target one specific individual or group (i.e. political opponents, media). Fair enough. When people do this during a period of family hardship, as the Trudeaus are facing, it’s usually a two-way street. Leave me alone, and I/we want to be alone. It would help get his wife and children off the grid, enable them to stay off the public radar – and start the long, difficult path in the healing process.

As for his role as PM, that’s a separate issue which didn’t fall under the same parameters. If he wanted to go under the radar for a spell, fine. If he wanted to post about his political musings and meetings on social media, fine. Both stances would have been acceptable.

In the end, Trudeau couldn’t even follow his own request to Canadians (and others) for a week. Grégoire Trudeau, to her credit, has kept a low profile in public and on social media since the separation was announced.

Which Trudeau truly understands what privacy means – and should entail? The answer is obvious.

Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.

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