Margaret Trudeau reflects on time in psychiatric hospital, life at 24 Sussex in new show

Click to play video: 'Margaret Trudeau brings one-woman show to Toronto'
Margaret Trudeau brings one-woman show to Toronto
WATCH: Margaret Trudeau has had her share of ups and downs. Now, she's sharing her story on stage at Just for Laughs – Sep 17, 2019

Not many women have been the mother and wife of a prime minister, and at 71, Margaret Trudeau will tell you she’s had quite the life.

“I’ve had a very glamorous life. I’ve had a very sad life,” she told Global News.

The sad part is why Trudeau, now a mental health advocate, is bringing her one-woman show to a Toronto stage as part of the Just for Laughs comedy festival.

The four-show run called Certain Woman of an Age is a candid account of her marriage to Pierre Trudeau and years of untreated bipolar disorder. Trudeau discusses her lowest point after losing her son Michel and her former husband within more than two years of each other.

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“I had to rebuild myself. I had an intervention. I had the police take me to the hospital finally strapped down because I was so resistant and so ill but I didn’t know it,” she said.

Trudeau said she hopes this show will help smash the stigma that still exists around mental health. She uses personal examples to being the audience on her journey.

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One part of the show lists five reasons why “being in the psychiatric hospital and being the prime minister’s wife are similar,” including protocol, surveillance and living in a home that isn’t your own.

“There is only a little redecorating and, in the case of the psych ward, you can just put a few a little things on your wall and change the colour of your sheets,” she said, joking that 24 Sussex is “a crown jewel of the federal penitentiary system.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mother said she’s beyond politics but admitted she does bring a unique perspective as wife of the 15th prime minister and mother of the 23rd. Her father, James Sinclair, was also a member of Parliament in the 1940s and 1950s.

“No matter what you do, a third of the people will love you for it, a third of the people will hate you for it, a third don’t give a damn what you do so just do what you love,” she said.

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“Be honest, be real, be authentic, don’t be playing to the crowd, and I don’t believe Justin does that.”

Of course, the opposition may not agree. But Trudeau said the bad campaign press about her son doesn’t bother her because she doesn’t read it.

“Why would I? What would it serve me to have some opinion of somebody in Toronto who has got a political agenda one side or the other. Why would I care?” she said.

Trudeau said what does warm her heart is the many people who still stop her to thank her for her husband letting them into the country in the 1970s.

“Pierre said to me back in the ’70s: ‘It’s going to be sad for many of the of the immigrants who come in because they might have been doctors (in their countries), but you just wait and watch their children — they will be the best Canadians because they won’t for one second not take advantage of the educational opportunities in this country,” she recalled.

You can catch Certain Woman of an Age at Jane Mallett Theatre in Toronto on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.


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