It’s one thing to have our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, his wife, Sophie and his three children, Ella-Grace, Hadrien and Xavier, traipsing around India in funny-looking costumes. But is this disease catching?
A CBC TV reporter was wearing one of those funny-looking Indian hats while reporting on Trudeau’s visit to India on Wednesday afternoon.
And then there was the graphic that showed, among other things, Indian President Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump in RCMP costumes. German Chancellor Andrea Merkel was also in that obviously-fake graphic in another ridiculous looking outfit. The graphic was widely viewed on social media, including Facebook.
Are these people world leaders or have we changed the entire international political arena into a broadway show?
“It’s one thing to pay respectful homage to a culture, but it’s another thing entirely when your traditional attire starts to veer into costume territory. That’s exactly what some are saying about the Trudeaus,” Global News reporter Marilisa Racco wrote.
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is already ripe for the picking (or trashing) as many have criticized him for his official trip that includes his wife and three children, and has yet to demonstrate any true political relevance. But it is perhaps the family’s insistence on consistently donning traditional Indian attire that is starting to draw less than flattering attention,” Racco wrote.
“Described as “too Indian even for an Indian” the Trudeaus have commissioned some of India’s most prestigious designers to outfit them for every photo op. What was perhaps most glaring was the juxtaposition between the Canadian political family and the Bollywood stars they met on Feb. 20. Sophie was in a cream-coloured and beaded sari, their children Xavier and Ella-Grace wore a sherwani and lehenga, respectively, and the PM donned a gold sherwani complete with traditional mojari shoes — while the Indian stars wore slacks and jackets.
But it gets worse. Our national media, the CBC, had one of its reporters dressed up in Indian attire for his report on the Trudeau visit Wednesday afternoon.
“Criticisms of the Trudeau family’s ever-changing attire during their multiple stops in front of some of India’s iconic cultural landmarks, meanwhile, have not gone unnoticed by the official Opposition, with Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre and others wondering aloud how much Canadian taxpayers are paying for their many costume changes,” a Canadian Press report read Wednesday.
Nobody is saying how much these ridiculous costumes cost, but both Trudeau and Modi say their governments did not pay the bill.
“Applying brakes on the wardrobe controversy of Prime Minister Narendra Modrithe the prime minister’s office has clarified that personal attire of PM is not borne by the government office. The information was sought by RTI activist Rohit Sabharwal who sought information about expenditure on wardrobe of PMs since 1998 in which Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh are also included,” The Times of India reports.
“The RTI activist Sabharwal had sought the information from PMO to give details about the expenditure done (year wise) on the clothing of Atal Bihari Vajpayee from March 19 1998 till May 22 2004. Similar information was sought for Manmohan Singh during his tenure from May 22, 2004 till May 26 2014. For the PM Narendra Modi the information was sought from May 26 2014 till now.
“The PMO in the reply has clearly stated that the information sought is personal in nature and does not form part of office records. The PMO office also mentioned that it may be noted that expenditure on personal attire of PM is not borne on government account.”
So just how much this trip will cost and who paid for what is still up in the air. But one thing is for certain. The trip is creating more controversy than Trudeau, his family or his entourage probably expected.
Jeff Wilkinson is a Senior Politics Reporter at Debate Report covering provincial and national politics, . Before joining Debate Report, Jeff worked on several provincial campaigns including Jack Layton. Jeff has worked as a freelance journalist in Toronto, having been published by over 20 outlets including CBC, the Center for Media and VICE.com.