Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he first made the link between mental health issues and his own family’s struggles – including his parents’ public divorce – when he was in his 20s and looking at old pictures of his mother.
Trudeau, now 44, told CTV’s The Social on Wednesday that mental illness was taboo when he was growing up in the 1970s and there was no way to describe the difficulties facing his family.
“I was looking over old pictures of my mom and we sort of pointed out to her, ‘Oh, mom your hair was really short that day,’ or 'You look thin,’ and she was like 'Oh yeah, I was really fighting depression at that moment,’” Trudeau recalled.
“It was just totally out of the blue. I sort of look back and go, 'Oh, of course that makes sense,’ but there was no vocabulary for talking about that back then.”
Trudeau’s mother, Margaret, married his father, who was then serving his first term as prime minister, when she was 22 years old. He said their marriage crumbled, in part, because of the elder Trudeau’s frequent absences, which left Margaret Trudeau at home to care for her three children. Margaret Trudeau also struggled with depression and bipolar disorder.
Margaret Trudeau [Margaret Joan Sinclair; 09.10.48]
Margaret Trudeau is a Canadian author and former “First Lady”. When she was only 18 she met Pierre Elliott Trudeau, future Prime Minister of Canada, who caused the phenomenon Trudeaumania. Pierre was captivated by her flower child style and carefree personality. They married in 1971 and had three children; Justin (current Canadian Prime Minister/Liberal Party Leader), Alexandre “Sacha” and Michel. Trudeau was a frequent visitor of Studio 54 and was well acquainted with three of The Rolling Stones; Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. Shortly after spending a weekend with the Stones in 1977, Margaret divorced Pierre. This caused a lot of controversy and vicious rumours although Margaret denies having any romantic or sexual affair with any of the Stones.
After the divorce Margaret struggled with stress, depression and bipolar disorder–especially since Pierre won custody of their children and did not pay spousal support. She has since became a spokesperson for mental illness awareness, even publishing a book Changing My Mind.
“Margaret Trudeau was twenty-two and [Pierre] Trudeau was fifty-one when they got married. It was a bit like Sinatra and Mia Farrow–the power and the flower child. And now Trudeau’s bride–and this was exactly their sixth wedding anniversary–was seen walking in our corridors in a bathrobe. So the story was that she had left him. She had, in fact, moved into the room next to Ronnie, and they were hitting it off really well, or, as Ronnie put it so nicely in memoirs, ‘We shared something special for that short time.’ She flew to New York to escape the publicity, but Mick flew to New York as well, so it was assumed they too were an item. Worse and worse. She was a groupie, that’s all she was, pure and simple. Nothing wrong with that, but you shouldn’t be a Prime Minister’s wife if you want to be a groupie” - Keith Richards, Life.
“In the eyes of the world my weekend with the Rolling Stones was the freedom trip to end all freedom trips. […] To the journalists and newspapers of the world, my escapade was yet another example of what a wicked wife I had become; flaunting my infidelities in Pierre’s face.”
April 6, 1968: Pierre Elliott Trudeau chosen as Liberal Party leader on fourth ballot, replacing Lester Pearson.
Canada is in desperate need of another Trudeau to lead our country. Failing that, I’ll gladly take zombie!Trudeau over any of the current party leaders. Sorry, Jack. I adore you, I’m just not confident in your abilities to be the leader of Canada.
Nice piece by Neil Macdonald on the prospect of Margaret Trudeau being brought back into the orbit of 24 Sussex Drive, this time with her son who was born there.
I grew up aware of her celebrity without knowing the reasons why. But I remember the mockery and sneering at a woman who, thrust in the spotlight in her early twenties (she was half Pierre Trudeau’s age), had to deal with mental illness and the collapse of her marriage. And all of this viewed by the boy who will soon move into his old home as the nation’s prime minister.
I’d like to think today that we’re more knowledgeable and understanding about mental illness and that she’ll have a much easier time with the press forty years later.
A Trudeau family photo that bleeds patriotism. You can almost see the sugar from the Timbits smeared on the faces of the children and smell the Molson Canadian lingering on PE’s breath. I imagine Margaret smells like maple syrup or baked McIntosh apples.