Trudeau’s song sparked backlash, but why?

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This past weekend was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau subject to backlash after a video of him singing at a hotel bar in London, UK, two days before Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral was widely circulated online.

In the 15-second video recorded Saturday, Trudeau can be seen wearing a t-shirt and singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen while acclaimed Quebec musician Gregory Charles played the piano. Critics on social media and in newspaper columns argued it was inappropriate and disrespectful at a time of grief.

And last month, a video of Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin dancing at a party leaked online, sparking outrage among some Finns who said the incident could damage the country’s reputation.

But experts say world leaders should be able to let loose and enjoy themselves every now and then – within limits.

Political marketing expert Clive Veroni says the outrage over Trudeau’s song in London was “blown out of proportion.”

“The prime minister was in London for a couple of days before the funeral … and had a Saturday night off and stood around a piano and sang with some friends for a couple of hours,” he told CTVNews.ca over the phone Wednesday. morning. “I think at the most basic level we can say that yes, people who are heads of government also have private lives and they should be allowed to enjoy themselves at their leisure.”

Veroni said it was “even more surprising” to see the outrage when the Finnish prime minister’s party videos were leaked.

“This is a perfectly normal thing for someone to do at that age — frankly, at any age,” he said.

Lydia Miljan, a professor of political science at the University of Windsor, says that while world leaders like Trudeau are “certainly allowed to have downtime,” they need to be mindful of context and timing.

“In the case of (the Finnish prime minister), it’s fine. She’s allowed to dance,” she told CTVNews.ca over the phone Wednesday afternoon.

“Trudeau’s case is a little bit different in that he was in the United Kingdom on government business. He was part of an official delegation to celebrate the Queen and it was during the period of mourning. And I think it’s there, people find the optics of his … impromptu sing-along reprehensible,” Miljan added.

In some cases, Miljan says a video of a prime minister singing can help humanize them, giving the example of then-prime minister Stephen Harper singing a Beatles song with Yo Yo Ma in 2009. But in the case of Trudeau, his critics have called him a rogue leader, and she claims this video only reinforces that view.

“It helped Harper because he had such a negative image of being a robot and anti-culture. It kind of made it possible for people to see him differently. Unlike Trudeau, he doesn’t need any bona fides on the cultural record . His shortcomings are not that he is a robot. It is that he is frivolous or that he is not a serious prime minister,” she said.

For Veroni, the most interesting part of the Trudeau song controversy was how it revealed the political divisions in Canadian society.

“There are some people who say whatever Trudeau does will be unacceptable. And this was one of those things that was ripe for comment and ripe for criticism because it happened right before the Queen’s funeral,” he said . “And I think a lot of other people kind of give a Gallic pat on the back and say it’s not a big deal.”

“I think the interesting thing about it is how it reveals the attitudes and perceptions of the people commenting on it.”

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