Sophie Scares Us

[Cache #240]

By Andris Pone – President, Coin Branding

Sophie’s crime?  Being popular.  And beautiful.  And articulate, stylish, pleasant, warm and giving.  

In sum, she has a strong personal brand, one that rubs some people the wrong way.  

Because she is Canadian, after all, in a country deeply conflicted about success.  

And she is merely a wife.

So here must be our new mission statement:  Keep Sophie down.  

How many administrative staff does she have?  Imagine, for a moment, nothing.  Nothing.

Now, add one to it.

There.  Now you have the total number of admin staff that Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has working for her.  Well, you may be saying, the increase from zero to one is in fact an infinite increase in staff, because zero is nothing.  And nobody, certainly not the unelected spouse of an elected, big-elbowed leader, deserves an infinite increase in staff (especially if I didn’t vote for him).  Do you think I can’t add or something?

Ditto for a 100% increase, from one body to two, which is what Sophie had the ridiculous temerity to ask for.

These are the kinds of attitudes that keep a country small.  That keep its brand, being what people think of it, small.  And let’s not kid ourselves:  we don’t matter for nearly as much as we think we do.  Jeffrey Simpson has been the Globe and Mail’s top national affairs columnist since at least I was a teenager, and last week he wrote about an international “Best Countries” survey that placed Canada’s brand as #2 in the world.  As very strong on many dimensions including human rights, and as best in the world on quality of life.

But as Simpson reports, the survey also finds us to be “nowhere in having an international cultural impact [and] a terrible 3.1 out of 10 for being a world ‘leader.'”

And then Simpson says this:  “These and many other surveys of Canada’s small impact in the world, alas, will not change the citizens’ sense of Canada as a moral superpower.”

So true.  Canada’s high sense of self-regard is, on some dimensions, vastly disconnected from its brand as perceived by the rest of the world.  Could this be because we are not willing to do things that greatness requires?  Like nudging up spending on defence (in which we earned 0.5 points out of 10), an area in which Simpson points out we’re a well-known “free rider”?

Fine.  That is never going to happen. But how about spending somewhere, I would imagine, between fifteen and fifty thousand dollars a year on a second admin assistant for someone whose help the people of Canada are clamouring to acquire?  So she can say “yes” to as many as possible of the speaking requests that are pouring in, from charitable organizations hoping she will help raise money, so they can do their important work?

Or is she just too good for us?

PS See this excerpt from “The Hacking of Tall Poppy Sophie Grégoire Trudeau,” by the CBC’s Neil Macdonald:

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