Canada’s most famous political couple was madly in love, but Margaret Trudeau was never an “equal partner” in the life of husband and prime minister Pierre Trudeau, son Justin says.
With a tinge of bittersweet regret, Justin Trudeau suggests his parents’ marriage was done in by an insurmountable age difference.
“They loved each other incredibly, passionately, completely. But there was 30 years between them and my mom never was an equal partner in what encompassed my father’s life, his duty, his country,” Trudeau said.
“She was a partner in the child-rearing stuff and the family stuff but not in his full life,” Trudeau told CPAC’s Beyond Politics in a show that aired last night.
The program was noteworthy for another reason: The interviewer, Catherine Clark, is the daughter of former prime minister Joe Clark. During the interview, Trudeau and Clark shared fond memories about childhood experiences at 24 Sussex Dr., the prime minister’s official residence, and the country retreat at Harrington Lake.
Trudeau, elected an MP in October, seems determined to learn the lessons of his own parents’ marriage breakup, pledging that his wife, Sophie Gregoire, is a valued partner in his political life.
“That lesson for me is the one thing I try with Sophie. She’s extraordinarily insightful. “I wouldn’t be a very good politician if Sophie wasn’t in my life. Knowing that she knows that is what hopefully makes everything a lot easier in terms of the difficult times we’ll always go through, ” said Trudeau, MP for the Montreal riding of Papineau.
Conscious of the toll that political life exacts on family, Trudeau, 37, said he asks himself every week whether being an MP is worth it.
He is learning that the life of a politician in Ottawa – far from home and family – can be lonely. “It’s amazing how lonely a life Ottawa is. … You go home, you grab a slice of pizza, you make a bowl of cereal, try and watch a little TV and you go to sleep alone and wake up the next morning and go to work. ”
Trudeau said it’s “heartbreaking” to have to leave children Xavier, 20 months, and Ella-Grace, 5 months, behind at his Montreal home during the weeks he is in Ottawa.
“That’s the question I ask myself every week when I come home and see Xavier and I see my daughter and my wife, I ask myself was it worth it that you were away from them for four days. “So far, the work I’m doing, the things that I’m learning, the building that is going on is worth it,” he said. “The day that I think I’m not making that much of a difference … I’ll leave politics.”
Trudeau spoke about losing younger brother Michel, killed in a 1998 avalanche, and his father, who died in 2000, saying he feels their deaths every day. “I wish my kids would know my father,” Trudeau said. “I know he’s watching. I just can’t ask him for his opinion anymore.”