The Daily News Online Desk | Published: August 03, 2023 14:27 PM | Update: August 03, 2023 14:29 PM
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife are separating after 18 years of marriage, and while they plan to co-parent their children, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau will no longer be considered the prime minister’s spouse in any official capacity.
In a brief statement issued by the prime minister on Instagram, he said that after “many meaningful and difficult conversations” the pair have “made the decision to separate.”
“As always, we remain a close family with deep love and respect for each other and for everything we have built and will continue to build,” said Trudeau in the post, which was also shared by Gregoire Trudeau’s account.
For the well-being of their children, the Trudeaus asked Canadians to respect the family’s privacy at this time.
The prime minister and Gregoire Trudeau have three children: Xavier who is 15, Ella-Grace who is 14, and Hadrien who is nine.
In a separate release, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) confirmed that the pair have “signed a legal separation agreement.”
“They have worked to ensure that all legal and ethical steps with regards to their decision to separate have been taken, and will continue to do so moving forward,” PMO spokesperson Alison Murphy said in the statement.
PLAN TO CO-PARENT, LIVE APART
Trudeau’s office said that the prime minister and Sophie are “focused on raising their kids in a safe, loving and collaborative environment,” and both will be “a constant presence in their children’s lives.”
Canadians can expect “to often see the family together, and they plan to be together on vacation, beginning next week,” at a yet-to-be disclosed location. Recent family holidays have seen the Trudeaus jet off to Montana and Jamaica.
Trudeau and his family have lived in Rideau Cottage on the Rideau Hall grounds in Ottawa since he became prime minister, given the state of disrepair of the prime minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex Drive. He also has a cottage at Harrington Lake, in Gatineau, Que.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly, Gregoire Trudeau still plans to spend considerable time at Rideau Cottage, but she has already made arrangements to move into a private residence nearby, at her own expense.
Emphasizing that it is a separation and not a divorce, the source told CTV News that the two plan to co-parent.
A key change is that going forward, Gregoire Trudeau will no longer represent the Government of Canada, will not be considered the spouse of the prime minister in any official capacity on the world stage, nor will she attend events as the spouse of the prime minister.
A HIGH-PROFILE RELATIONSHIP
As a political power couple, the pair has had a high public and international profile predating Trudeau’s time in elected office. Already, the news of their legal separation has been picked up by outlets across the world.
Justin Trudeau leaves with his new bride Sophie Gregoire in his father’s 1959 Mercedes 300 SL after their marriage ceremony in Montreal on May 28, 2005. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)
Trudeau, 51, and Gregoire Trudeau, 48, were married on May 28, 2005 at a widely-covered ceremony in Montreal, after Trudeau and the then-Quebec TV personality became engaged in 2004.
The pair first met in their youth, as Gregoire Trudeau went to school with Trudeau’s youngest brother, Michel, and then reconnected and began dating after co-hosting the Montreal Grand Prix charity ball in 2003.
In an anniversary post last year, Gregoire Trudeau spoke about the pair navigating “sunny days, heavy storms, and everything in between.” In the social media post, she acknowledged that long-term relationships can be “challenging in so many ways.”
In a post marking the occasion this year, the prime minister shared a photo of the couple holding hands, with the caption: “Every mile of this journey together is an adventure. I love you, Soph. Happy anniversary!”
Gregoire Trudeau has played a prominent role alongside Trudeau in his successive election campaigns, with CTV News political analyst and commentator Scott Reid describing her as “a very effective political asset.”
And, while she has been at the prime minister’s side on fewer public occasions recently— prompting predictable speculation about the state of their relationship—she has continued to use her platform to promote causes that she cares about, including mental health and wellness, as well as women’s rights.
This spring it was announced that she is writing two books that will be published by Penguin Random House.
The first, “Closer Together: Knowing Ourselves, Loving Each Other” has been billed as an “inspirational self-discovery and wellness book for adults” and is expected to publish in spring 2024. Gregoire Trudeau is also working on a children’s’ picture book in 2025, that will “draw on Sophie’s own love for nature and her advocacy work in mental health and emotional literacy.”
The source CTV News spoke with said Gregoire Trudeau plans to continue on with her own career endeavours.
The family last appeared together at last month’s Canada Day events, and the prime minister and his wife most recently travelled together to London to attend the coronation of King Charles III in May and hosted U.S. President Joe Biden’s official visit to Ottawa in March.
During the visit, Gregoire Trudeau and First Lady Jill Biden participated in a YouTube interview in which Gregoire Trudeau spoke about how at they end of the day they are “just a family” and she tries to “keep a sense of safety” in her house where her children can “discuss real things.”
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR PM POLITICALLY
Trudeau was first elected as the MP for Papineau, Que. in 2008. The then still-growing Trudeau family moved from Montreal to Ottawa as Trudeau’s political career advanced, ahead of him entering the Liberal leadership race which he went on to win handily in 2013.
After watching his father Pierre Elliott Trudeau announce a separation from his mother Margaret Trudeau while in office back in 1977, Trudeau wrote in his 2014 memoir ‘Common Ground’ about the impact his parent’s divorce had on him, and the considerations he and Gregoire Trudeau about the addition strain political life can have on a marriage.
He said that divorce always has “casualties where children are involved” but that his parents did their best to “minimize the pain and sense of loss.” While in his own marriage, he described his wife as his “soulmate” and said the two were honest with each other, “even when it hurts.”
Trudeau became prime minister in 2015, securing a majority mandate and has since led the Liberal party to two minority victories in 2019 and 2021. Trudeau has repeatedly stated his intent to stay at the helm of the party into the next federal election.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is joined on stage by wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, left, and children Xavier and Ella-Grace, during his victory speech at Party campaign headquarters in Montreal, early Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Last week he oversaw a massive reshuffling of his front bench, reassigning the majority of his cabinet ministers in an effort to refocus his government on the affordability issues that are top of mind for Canadians.
Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc briefed the Liberal caucus on Wednesday about the situation, according to two sources. LeBlanc, a long-time close personal friend of the prime minister was asked to communicate the news to MPs, fielding any potential questions on the prime minister’s behalf.
CTV News’ official pollster Nik Nanos said Wednesday that Canadians will likely have “a certain level of empathy” for Trudeau, given many families go through similar hard times. However, it remains to be seen what— if any—impact this news or future related developments may have on public opinion polling that currently shows the Liberals several points behind the federal Conservatives.
A source CTV News spoke with confirmed that the separation has not changed his political plans, and Trudeau remains excited to continue his role leading Canadians.
Source: CTV News