Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie, said on Wednesday that they were separating in an unexpected announcement that appeared to mark the end of the couple’s 18-year high-profile marriage. The couple had talked frankly about difficulties in their relationship and, in recent years, were seen less often together in public. The announcement came just a week after Trudeau unveiled a significant cabinet shuffle to boost his Liberal Party’s chances of winning the next election in October 2025.
The prime minister’s office said the couple had signed a legal agreement and would focus on raising their three children, aged 15, 14, and nine. They will continue to live at Rideau Cottage, the prime minister’s official residence in Ottawa, where they have lived since Trudeau became the country’s leader in 2015.
A source close to the family who did not speak publicly said that while rumors about their marriage have circulated for some time, it is essential for the couple and their children to have as normal an upbringing as possible. The source said Gregoire Trudeau will move to a private residence in the Ottawa area but will spend plenty of time at the kids’ school and other places they attend.
It is not the prime minister’s first separation while in office. Trudeau’s father, former Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau, separated from his wife Margaret — known popularly as Maggie — while still in power in 1977. Trudeau has talked about being a child of divorce and noted the importance of staying connected to one’s parents.
However, this separation, which the prime minister’s office emphasized was not a divorce, may impact how the family is perceived in Canada and worldwide. The news sparked an instant reaction from the political world and the public and was picked up by global outlets.
The separation announcement also came at a sensitive moment for the government, with polls showing the Liberals trailing the Conservatives. It will be interesting to see if the split, which will likely lead to increased scrutiny of the cabinet, and any other government matters, impact the prime minister is standing in public opinion.
Pollster Nik Nanos of the Nanos Research firm said Canadians may empathize with Trudeau, given that many families face hardships. However, he said, it will be hard to determine what impact the news may have on Liberal public opinion if it leads to an upswing in Conservative support before the next federal election. The pollster said the timing of the separation announcement, in the middle of summer when few people are paying attention, might make it difficult to measure that impact.