I don’t really care about any of the wives of any Canadian politicians—Canadian politics just aren’t made for us Canadians to be that invested in.
But that’s not the case with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the cherubic face that Justin Trudeau has woken up to every day for nearly 20 years. Sophie is notorious for her almost charming lack of self-awareness, for singing (without invitation) at a Martin Luther King Day event, and for wearing this mother-of-the-bride getup while touring India. For the near-eight years that her husband has been Canada’s Prime Minister, she has been a source of fascination. While American First Ladies generally fall into a few predictable categories, from the highly competent (Jill Biden) to the alarmingly dispassionate (Melania Trump), the wives of Canadian Prime Ministers are less canonized. Sophie’s influence was always more cultural than political. She is a celebrity of sorts within Canada; a mascot, a charity aid, and of course, a woman famous for being Wife.
But now, Sophie has made herself even more compelling by shaking off that last label. Wednesday, on Instagram, she announced her separation from Justin—in French and English, just like dieux intended. “After many meaningful and difficult conversations, we have made the decision to separate,” she wrote, surprising anyone in Canada who hadn’t heard all those pesky rumo(u)rs about how her husband [redacted] [redacted] his [redacted] in the [redacted] before [redacted] [redacted]. (Sorry, Canadian libel law is a lot stricter than it is in the States. Anyway, here, look at this photo of Justin Trudeau in blackface from 2001, a time when flip phones already existed.) Apparently, she’s had enough.
We seem to be in a divorce, era, don’t we? The last months alone provided us with some of the juiciest heterosexual celebrity breakups in recent memory: Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez (and, I guess, the marriage of the little Pixar goblin she met at work); Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello; Tina Knowles and Richard Lawson; Chirlane McCray and Bill de Blasio; Kyle Richards and Mauricio Umansky; Taylor Swift and that white guy who looks like the off-brand Ken my mom bought at the Red Deer Dollarama in 1999 just to shut me up. Sophie’s always been less political attaché than celebrity, and so it makes sense that her divorce feels at home with celebrity gossip. Call it the Great Separation of 2023—women are realizing they fuckin’ hate their husbands. Why would the wife of Canada’s most punchable face be any different?
A spouse leaving her Prime Minister husband while he’s still in office is incredibly rare. Justin and Sophie are only the second example in Canadian history; the first was Justin’s dad, Pierre Trudeau. Justin’s mother, Margaret, married Pierre in secret when she was 22 and he was 51. After six years together, they separated, foisting Margaret into decades as tabloid fodder. Her partying in New York combined with tales of her mental health meant she was ridiculed and gawked at.
But Sophie will likely have a different divorce trajectory. Studio 54 is closed, first of all, but her public perception is more like Bridle Path royalty than rebellious, political liability. In that way, it’s even more surprising they’re breaking up; Sophie seemed uniquely tasked with the job of being the Prime Minister’s Wife. You can say a lot of things about her—and boy, will I ever—but one must give her credit where it’s due. She was always ride or die for that loser. Who else would have sang and held half-crow on stage next to her husband, for reasons that remain entirely unclear to me? Who else would have written a horny Instagram post about her former-teacher spouse on World Teachers Day? (Also, he was a substitute. Everyone re-lax.)
When the Wife Guy archetype fell last year, it happened with a hollow but heavy clang. Ned Fulmer, formerly of the Try Guys, Adam Levine, and John Mulaney all fill out the archetype: Men who love their wives so much that it becomes a part of their identity. Their subsequent divorces and splits, then, were a special kind of perfidy: A Wife Guy’s betrayal is made more potent by how much he waxed falsely about his love for his spouse.
But when a Husband Lady, like Sophie, leaves her spouse, it’s not a tragedy, not a crime, not something devastating or anything worth mourning. It is a release. A Husband Lady throwing in the towel feels like cause for celebration. Hark! A woman held in the position of supporting actor for her husband is now free to be the full freak she probably is. If Sophie Gregoire was spontaneously singing at government events in an attempt to help her husband’s cabinet, imagine what kind of spectacle she’ll be as a 48-year-old rich divorced woman in Ottawa. We need Andy Cohen and three cameras posted up at the Lieutenant’s Pump, immediately. I’ll film with her. I have several peplum dresses waiting in my closet for this exact occasion.
There is, as I write this, conjecture still being established around Justin’s faithfulness, or Sophie’s, or the general state of their marriage, which has often been treated in Canada like a facade. Already, Canada’s worst-faith actors are arguing online that Justin’s inability to keep his family together means he can’t keep the country together either. They’re wrong—Justin’s manifold failures as a Prime Minister have nothing to do with his wife. The good news is this split will give the Trudeaus more time to decide which of their three children will inherit the family business and run the government in 20 years despite having no qualifications other than a recognizable last name. (My bet’s on Hadrian—I know he’s only 9, but there’s something unruly about him. I am afraid of him. You’ll see. You’ll all see.)
It is just always so hard to see a hot woman down bad for a dud, even one with pleasingly tan forearms. But Sophie’s departure makes something clear: Even the most devoted Husband Lady has her limits. Now, we can do nothing but hope and pray that she does the right thing and loudly rebounds with one of the Toronto Raptors. I mean, it’s the least she can do. For the good of the nation.