Dance video

Canadian politicians defend Finnish PM’s dance video, say backlash shows double standard

As women around the world have taken to social media in the past few days, posting videos of themselves dancing to show #SolidarityWithSanna, some Canadian politicians and strategists are also coming to the defense of Finland’s prime minister. , suggesting that she is being unfairly judged due to her gender and age.

Sanna Marin became a target after a video emerged last week showing her dancing with friends at a private party. Following the clip’s leak, some political opponents questioned whether her judgment was impaired, prompting some to demand that she take a drug test.

Marin – who took the test and passed it – said she had done nothing wrong.

“I didn’t have any work meetings scheduled for this weekend,” she said after the video aired. “I had business meetings on Monday which of course I managed. But we didn’t have government meetings during that week, and I had some free time, and I spent it with my friends. and did nothing illegal.”

Marin became Finland’s youngest prime minister in 2019, aged 34. At the time, the Social Democrat told reporters she would stay true to herself. It’s not the first time her private life has been the subject of public debate, leading some to say she’s held to a double standard – while others say a world leader should always be ready to be called upon to make important decisions.

Celebrate – then destroy them

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante weighed in early on this latest debate, posting an Instagram story the next day featuring Cyndi Lauper Girls just wanna have funand the words “Me, responding to Finnish Prime Minister’s reactions,” adding an eye-rolling emoji.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante took to Instagram to show her support for Marin’s dance, seen here in an image taken from her Instagram Stories. (val_plante/Instagram)

“The fact that this has become a huge story is absolutely absurd,” said former Liberal cabinet minister Catherine McKenna, who faced gender-based attacks while in office, including being called Climate Barbie by a colleague from the opposition — an insult hurled at her for years by her detractors.

“When you think about all the critical issues we’re going through in the world right now – a climate crisis, a COVID crisis, a security crisis – and we focus on how someone, a prime minister, but a real person , behaves in her private time because she’s a younger woman… so I think we’ve lost track.”

McKenna said she didn’t go out socially for the first two years after being appointed minister because she felt under such scrutiny and pressure.

Former Liberal cabinet minister Catherine McKenna says female politicians need to be able to be themselves and bring their life experience without being targeted. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Former NDP MP Peggy Nash says people often celebrate the presence of women in public life, but then proceed to destroy them at the first opportunity.

There is clearly a double standard when it comes to women in politics — especially young women, said Nash, who wrote a book called Women Winning Office: An Activist’s Guide to Getting Elected.

“I think for women — not just in politics, but in all aspects of public life — there’s still this traditional stereotype of who a leader is,” Nash said. “And he is a man, unfortunately.”

More leeway is given to male politicians who make mistakes, she said, because they are often seen as not yet “fully trained”, with room for improvement.

“Men are held to a standard of their potential, whereas women are now held to a very rigid standard of responsibility,” she said. “And it doesn’t matter how much they’ve accomplished or how much experience they have. They have to be hyper-perfect or they’ll be hyper-criticized. It’s an unfair double standard.”

Former NDP MP Peggy Nash, who wrote a book on how to get more women into politics, says there remains a double standard in how women in the public eye are judged. (Richard Lam/The Canadian Press)

Conservative strategist Tim Powers, chairman of Summa Strategies, says while there might be a double standard at play, he believes there is more to it.

“I think there’s a lot of rigidity in view, which diminishes and takes away what we’re all saying about wanting authenticity,” he said. “I think there’s more hypocrisy than double standards.”

He suggested a certain ageism is also involved when it comes to Marin, who is 36.

Quebec Liberal leader Dominique Anglade, who spoke out on how women are treated in the province’s National Assemblysaid she was not surprised by the reaction to Marin’s video.

“Each level of diversity brings a level of complexity, if you will. So the fact that she’s female, the fact that she’s young…is two levels of diversity, in an environment where people are older and it’s more of a male environment.”

Anglade, however, said she was surprised at how quickly comments about Marin’s dancing turned into speculation about drug use.

“She’s not doing drugs, she’s dancing,” Anglade said of the video, wondering if a man in a similar situation would have been asked for a test.

“There was no evidence of anything. … It was just people thinking she might have.”

Quebec Liberal leader Dominique Anglade has spoken herself of the double standard she experienced as a politician. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

White men seen as natural leaders

Marin probably had no choice but to take the drug test to silence her critics, said Andrea Reimer, a former Vancouver city councilor. She agreed with Anglade that her male counterparts probably wouldn’t have even had to think about it.

“Where Boris Johnson or former President Donald Trump may not have had to deal with this type of request, a young woman in a leadership position doesn’t have as many options,” Reimer said.

People see older white men as natural leaders, she suggested, and it takes a long time to change that perspective — but it was different for Marin.

“This young woman, who led the country through very difficult times, and a period of dancing… was enough to confirm people’s prejudice that she is not capable in some way,” Reimer said.

Photo of a smiling person with long black hair, wearing glasses and a red blazer.
Former Vancouver City Councilor Andrea Reimer said Marin had no choice but to take the drug test, though she wonders if a male leader would have been forced to do the same. (Belle Ancell)

Societal expectations

On Wednesday, Marin opened up about the experience, telling a crowd in Lahti, Finland, that she is human and never missed a single work task because she took time off.

“I want to believe that people are watching the work we do, not what we do in our free time,” she said.

Powers, who worked on campaigns for former prime ministers Joe Clark and Stephen Harper, says a good leader must be connected to their own humanity.

“You can’t be a good leader if you’re a robot, you’re disconnected, you can’t, you know, figure out what everyone could be doing at this time of night and having fun,” he said. -he declares. .

“And what is the test that we still use in Canada? Who would you like to have a beer with?

Medium shot of a smiling individual with blond hair wearing a blue tie.
Summa Strategies President Tim Powers says people don’t want their leaders to be robots. (Cynthia Munster)

Yaroslav Baran, who led Conservative Party communications for three election campaigns, agrees there is likely a double standard applied to a leader. If it had been a male lead caught dancing on video, he said, “people would probably smile and, you know, move on. Or they’d think it’s hip. and cool, then move on.

The biggest question in the debate, he said, is whether a head of government is capable of making an important decision when the need arises.

“Certainly it wouldn’t pass the societal tests of the expectations that a public has of their leader, if a leader was truly weakened and an opportunity arose where they had to make an important decision,” he said, noting that he saw no evidence of this in Marin’s video.

“Where it comes into play are national security issues, where theoretically if a person’s perception or judgment is impaired, then they can theoretically give up state secrets or they can engage in some sort of activity that could later be used against them.”

Shot of smiling individual in white shirt and jacket.
Yaroslav Baran, chief executive of Earnscliffe Strategies, says the public wouldn’t want a leader to be too weak to make important decisions, but added that they saw no evidence of that in Marin’s video. (Earnscliffe)

As for McKenna, she said she was okay with any politician or leader being criticized for the job they do or for a policy decision – but not for having a personal life or having fun with friends. She fears that the kind of criticism Marin receives will have adverse effects, especially if women begin to change their behavior.

“It means you stop wanting to be a real person. It means you don’t bring, you know, what’s so valuable to you — your experiences — to the table,” she said. “Women have to push back and they have to push back hard.”

Canadian politicians defend Finland’s prime minister after leaking party video

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has come under scrutiny after leaked video of the 36-year-old leader partying with friends over the weekend. Some Canadian politicians came to his defense, saying the criticism was unfair.