Canadian newspapers have their say after PM and his wife separate

Canadian newspapers have their say after PM and his wife separate

August 3, 2023

Justin Trudeau is ‘risking his family man image’ with split from wife and rumours will now ‘spread like wildfire’: Canadian newspapers have their say after PM and his wife separate

  • Prime Minister Trudeau announced the separation on Instagram yesterday 

Canadian outlets have weighed in on the announcement of a separation between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.

Mr Trudeau shared the news on social media yesterday that ‘after many meaningful and difficult conversations, we have made the decision to separate’.

He said that they would ‘remain a close family with deep love and respect for each other and everything we have built and will continue to build.’

But commentators were quick to assess how the announcement would affect his career in the leadup to the 2025 election.

Columnist Jamie Sarkonak observed in the National Post yesterday: ‘The timing doesn’t bode well for the prime minister — especially since much of his personal marketing has to do with image.

‘Trudeau can no longer play the loving husband, the family man. He can’t live by example on the family file, because he can’t claim personal success on that front.’

Brian Lilley, a columnist for the Toronto Sun, warned yesterday that rumours would spread ‘like wildfire’ following the announcement, as the family chose not to disclose their reasons. 

Justin Trudeau (L) and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau (R), wave to the crowd after a victory speech in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 22 October 2019

ustin Trudeau waits with his wife Sophie, son Hadrien and daughter Ella-Grace to cast his ballot in Montreal on October 19, 2015. The PM has cultivated a careful ‘family man’ image

Columnist Jamie Sakonak warned Trudeau’s political career could be hurt by the sad news

Justin Trudeau has been Prime Minister of Canada since 2015, serving three consecutive terms.

Only in May he vowed to run in the coming 2025 election, speaking at his Liberal party convention.

If he wins, he would be the first to serve four consecutive terms since Wilfrid Laurier in 1908.

But the news of his separation from his wife may affect his public image, columnists warn.

Mr Sarkonak wrote yesterday: ‘There will be no more family photo-ops of the perfect trail ride, the perfect British Columbia getaway or the perfect Christmas.’ 

The columnist said it was ‘no coincidence’ divorce is rare in public office. Should Trudeau and his wife legally separate, he would become only the third in Canadian history to do so.

Mr Lilley warned that rumours could spread following the separation as the couple chose not to disclose the reasons.

He wrote: ‘Canadian political culture shies away from prying into the personal lives of politicians. 

‘Rumours of infidelity, and marriage troubles more generally, might circulate around Ottawa, but almost never make it into the news. 

‘Unlike in the United States, we don’t have a tradition of valorizing politicians’ spouses, or expecting them to participate in political campaigns. 

‘There is no Canadian “first lady”.’

In 2014, Mr Trudeau was able to settle rumours about infidelity after a line in his autobiography, Common Ground, was deemed ambiguous.

The Prime Minister had opened up about some of the challenges of balancing family responsibilities with the top job.

He wrote: ‘Our marriage isn’t perfect, and we have had difficult ups and downs, yet Sophie remains my best friend, my partner, my love.

‘We are honest with each other, even when it hurts.’

In an interview with CBC later that year, interviewer Evan Solomon asked if this was ‘coded language for extramarital affairs’.

Trudeau was able to answer unequivocally: ‘no’. 

Brian Lilley wrote in the Toronto Sun that speculation would follow the announcement

Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, with their children Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien, host Joe Biden and Jill Biden at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, March 23, 2023

Althia Raj drew attention to the ‘inescapably’ political nature of the split in the Toronto Star

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire arrive at Felipe Angeles International Airport in Mexico January 9, 2023

Sophie shared a candid post in 2020. ‘Through all the ups and the downs, you’re still my person. I love you,’ she wrote

The couple have been candid about challenges to the relationship over the years. 

In 2015, Sophie had her say on the trials and tribulations of marriage in an interview with Global News.

‘I can tell you right away that no marriage is easy,’ she said.

National Columnist Althia Raj also commented on the ‘inescapably political’ nature of the split.

‘Liberal strategists have their work cut out for them after cultivating the prime minister’s image as a loving husband and family man,’ the piece noted.

Betfair gave even odds for Trudeau’s Liberal Party to win in 2025.

The Conservative party were given more favourable odds at 4/6 – an implied probability of 60 per cent.

The Liberal party held power for almost 70 years of the 20th century and has maintained its dominance through the early 21st.

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