Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) and his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau attend the Catalyst Awards Dinner in March
Ilya S. Savenok—Getty Images
By Belinda Luscombe
May 17, 2016
IDEAS
Luscombe is an editor-at-large at TIME.

Dear Gentle People of Canada,

You may not be aware of this, but there are a lot of folks on the other side of the Niagara who look upon you and your ways with envy. You have those cheap drugs, those affordable universities, that easy-to-draw flag, and that slightly better view of the Falls.

And recently you elected a criminally handsome feminist as your Prime Minister. He can explain tricky mathematical theories. He can do one-handed pushups. He has OMG eyes, GR8 hair, at least one tattoo, IRL abs. He can do yoga. He tweets funny videos. He’s the perfect leader for the Instagram generation.

Suddenly, all eyes are on you, Canada. You are modern and exciting. You’ve always been pretty cold, and now, finally, you’re cool, too.

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But then there’s this. Trudeau’s married to an accomplished woman, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, a former TV presenter, who mentioned in an interview with leSoleil that she’s a bit overwhelmed with all the requests she gets and could use a hand. Too many people want her to show up at their events, or help them out with a fundraiser, and she can’t get to them all or even respond to them all. So she asked for help.

And some of you reacted as if she asked for a bunch of hunky men to carry her around on a litter. You mocked her the usual old-fashioned stuffy ways, in op-eds and on talk radio, and in parliament, where Nikki Ashton, a New Democratic Party member, suggested Gregoire-Trudeau had no idea how hard most Canadian women worked. “Let’s talk about Canadian women feeling overwhelmed,” Ashton said.

But being cool and progressive, you also mocked her in all the modern funny ways, comparing her to crazy kittens…

…rich loafers…

…and, of course, great heroines from the movies.

Lol. You can tell this is the country that gestated Jim Carrey and Seth Rogen.

But seriously Canada, WTF? Are you really denigrating a woman suddenly thrust into a brand new role for asking: “A little help, please?” Is it just because she isn’t paid for all the stuff she’s expected to do that you think it’s not worthwhile enough for her to have help scheduling and organizing it? Is it because it’s the kind of stuff most men wouldn’t be asked to do? Does that somehow make it not “real work?”

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Yes, the Trudeaus have two nannies to help look after their three children. But guess what: they’re busier than most Canadians. Take a tip from your cousins to the south who have more experience with famous world leaders than you do. It’s a lot of work to be a celebrity spouse.

Ms. Gregoire Trudeau is essentially being asked to show up at things, look good, maybe make a speech, attract some publicity, make people feel loved. To spread the aroma of Trudeau around, to be the slightly more accessible version of her husband. She’s not making policy or brokering trade agreements or figuring how to annex Alaska. If her husband is school principal, she runs the Parents Association.

But if you don’t think that work is important or time-consuming, you should go talk to your queen, or your next king or the king after that, or even his wife, Kate Middleton, all working harder than one-armed bricklayers, doing exactly the same sort of stuff. Yet more than 60% of you still love the royals. Those people have help.

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I know the wife of your last Prime Minister, the lovely Ms. NobodyoutsideCanadaknowswhothatwas, did not have a lot of staff. But this time around you elected a rock star. And rock stars are just a lot more work for everyone.

Quite apart from that, Canada, frankly, with all this denigrating of unpaid and volunteer work, and of a partner’s contribution, you’re making North America look bad. You need to stop. That’s the U.S.’s job.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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