Canada PM pushes work-life balance, cabinet too busy to listen

Thu Jun 16, 2016 1:04pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel and David Ljunggren

WINNIPEG/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is so committed to "work-life balance" that he took a whole day off during a work trip to Japan last month to celebrate his wedding anniversary. It's an example he wants his cabinet to follow.

If only it were so easy, his ministers say.

Trudeau's forthright move while abroad for an important foreign visit followed a 2015 election campaign where he stressed the need for more flexible work hours and parent-leave options for Canadians.

While such luxuries are admirable goals, some of his young Liberal ministers struggle to find a balance between their portfolios and their families.

"Who do you love more? Me or Justin Trudeau?" Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said her six-year-old son asked her as she prepared to fly to Japan with the prime minister.

"That was quite heartbreaking," the 47-year-old mother of three told a recent panel discussion in Winnipeg, saying she felt inadequate both at home and at the office.

"I worry about my kids and also my husband. And I worry at work - I worry my officials will think, 'Oh God, we're the department that has the mom as a minister.'"

Such angst was absent when Trudeau, 44, came to power last November, promising to boost the role of women in society. He's already become the first Canadian leader to name a gender-balanced cabinet.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to sign a book of condolences for the victims of the shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie