Deborah Coyne has written a new memoir detailing her romance with Pierre Trudeau that is igniting debate about how much Canadians really need to know about their politicians' personal lives.
Coyne, a lawyer who is currently running for leadership of the federal Liberal Party, had a daughter with the late prime minister. In Unscripted: A Life Devoted to Building a Better Canada, Coyne writes at length about the details of their relationship.
In the past, Coyne has been reticent to discuss her romance with Trudeau and their child (21-year-old Sarah), but now that she's running for office it seems she believes it's important to satisfy some of the public's curiosity.
"Given that she’s running for significant political office, it’s something people are going to constantly ask about. This is her way of addressing it in an honest, heartfelt, forthright way," publisher Derek Finkle, founder of the Canadian Writers Group, told the Toronto Star.
The Star is participating in the publication of the memoir, making it available on the newspaper's online store. The book is also available on Kobo and Kindle.
On Monday, Coyne participated in an online chat with Star readers and wrote that she believes "people are entitled to know about my background ... That includes my relationship with Pierre Trudeau."
Of course, matters are complicated by the fact that Trudeau's first son from his marriage with Margaret is the front-runner in the same Liberal leadership race Coyne is running in. Asked by a Star reader whether Pierre would appreciate the fact that she is running against Justin, Coyne was terse.
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Canada's columnists have not maintained the same brevity on the subject.
Writing in The Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente describes the younger Trudeau and Coyne as "temperamental opposites," neither of whom can "remotely fill the shoes of the giant who inspired them."
"She has the gravitas and taste for policy he lacks. He has the charm and good looks."
While Wente expresses pity for Coyne over the distance Trudeau maintained in their relationship, the National Post's Kelly McParland questions the timing of the book's release.
"Why start spilling these details at a time when they could, if one were the malicious sort, be construed as an attempt to capitalize on the relationship for political gain? Since Justin is already doing that, it’s like a family rivalry to squeeze value from the Trudeau name."
On the whole, MacParland just feels "icky" about the whole thing.
The memoir leads to many questions about just what aspects of our politicians' personal lives should be fodder for public consumption.
The elder Trudeau and Coyne did not announce the birth of their child and the public only came to know of her existence four months after the fact, when the Globe reported that Trudeau's name was listed on the birth certificate. The couple's 37-year age gap captured headlines, much as the relationship between Senator Rob Zimmer and his much younger wife Maygan Sensenberger did last year.
Details about Trudeau and Coyne's romance, however, remained few and far between. Until now.
In Unscripted, Coyne writes about how a lunch in Montreal to talk politics blossomed into a love affair. The couple loved to see movies and Trudeau loved popcorn, as long as it didn't come from the microwave.
But while Coyne writes that she would have married Trudeau, he was unwilling to make a deeper commitment.
When Sarah was born, Trudeau adopted the role of the "distant uncle."
At the former prime minister's funeral, Coyne and her daughter stayed behind Margaret and her boys as the cameras captured every moment.
Trudeau's romantic involvements continue to attract attention to this day.
Last year, singer and actress Barbra Streisand seemed to admit to a relationship with the former PM during a concert. She also took the time to put in a good word for Justin and his campaign.
The highlight? "I'm usually drawn to older men, someone who likes music, and I prefer that he be rich."
What would Boyd think about Coyne's book? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Editor's note: Deborah Coyne has blogged for The Huffington Post Canada.
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