I’m a loyal, proud Canadian. I love my country and feel immensely grateful for having been born here. I take an active interest in local and national politics and I always make sure to vote. But there’s one aspect of politics I’m supremely uninterested in, and that’s the personal lives of the politicians who serve us.
As long as what these politicians are doing in private is not affecting their ability to think or act rationally and as long as their actions aren’t illegal or corrupt, their personal lives are none of my business.
In the past divorce was not an option for a public figure
In the bad old days, when all the politicians were straight white men, they were expected to have supportive wives and loving children. Being the “head of a family” would mark them as stable individuals, capable of political leadership.
For this reason alone, politicians would remain in loveless marriages. Everyone in the family would be utterly miserable, but divorce was not an option, lest the politician be judged as untrustworthy and incompetent.
The view back then was that if you couldn’t “keep your marriage together,” how could you run a city, province, or country?
Societal views of divorce have changed for the better
In 2023, we know better. We understand today that the success or failure of one’s marriage has nothing to do with one’s ability to govern.
And these days, we are electing a much more diverse group of politicians whose marital status is a minor detail within the broader picture of who they are.
Marriage is a fascinating and mysterious institution. It’s hard to make a marriage work. Each person brings both their best and their worst traits to the relationship and with all the pressures of modern life, it’s not surprising that almost half of all marriages end in divorce.
They say that it’s harder for people to stay together these days, but maybe the truth is that it’s easier to separate.
Divorce can be the healthier decision
In the bad old days, people would be forced to stay together because of religious or societal pressures or for financial reasons. Abused spouses would stay because they had nowhere else to go or because otherwise, they’d lose access to their children. Today, more people have the freedom to choose what’s best for them.
In the bad old days, people would often stay together “for the children,” but today, studies show that in families with parents who are overtly hostile toward one-other, the resultant trauma means that it’s better for the children if they separate.
There is far less stigma associated with divorce these days. With a fifty percent divorce rate, any other perspective would be absurd. People no longer risk losing their jobs or ruining their reputations over getting divorced. Although celebrities might be subject to salacious gossip over their marital breakdowns, people still buy their music and watch their shows. It might be interesting — at least to some of us — but it’s not seen as shameful. And thank goodness for that.
Divorce is difficult for everyone, regardless of their role in society
I empathize with anyone who has to go through a divorce. It’s an absolutely miserable experience. I feel bad for the prime minister, Ms. Gregoire, and especially their children. But I don’t want to know what happened. It’s not my business why his marriage is ending. Just because he holds public office, it doesn’t negate his right to personal privacy.
Some far-right politicians might try to use the end of the Prime Minister’s marriage as political fodder but most reasonable politicians will avoid this tactic as they understand that it will only make them come across as brutish and sleazy.
Even people in the public eye deserve respect and privacy
I can’t imagine the stress of being in public office. I doubt it’s easy on a marriage. If a politician ends up getting divorced while in office, it strikes me as grossly unfair for anyone to rub it in their faces.
Justin Trudeau has written about the failure of his parent’s’ marriage and how hard he has tried to make his own marriage work. For this reason alone, he deserves our sympathy as well as a healthy dose of respect for his boundaries.
I’m much more interested in Mr. Trudeau’s policies than in his recent separation. Although it’s human nature to crane our necks and stare at the accident on the highway, we also have to remember what’s important and what isn’t; what is in the public domain and what is private. From where I stand, the prime minister’s divorce is none of my business.
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