Vogue magazine's latest pictures of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, by photographer Norman Jean Roy and released late today, are a kind Canadians have never before seen of their politicians: direct, intimate, glamorous, even sexy, even – who would have thought it? – revealing.
Apparently we can't stop tweeting it and looking at it. Its allure is surpassed only by our desire to figure out what the hell is going on.
Is he saying, "You know I love you, even if I have to work late at cabinet tomorrow," while she replies "I don't care, it still leaves me alone with three kids for supper?" Is the fact that he's gazing into her ear and holding her hips into his own while she's looking beyond him, at what's coming, an accurate reflection of the dynamic of their relationship? Quite possibly. The camera has never frightened Justin or his wife, who worked as a correspondent for CTV, and as Mikhail Baryshnikov once said, the body never lies.
"We've been preparing for this for years," Sophie said of the couple's political career in a private interview with The Globe shortly before the election in October. "Once Justin decided to go on the political scene, all the spotlights were on him. I think we've done pretty well finding a balance and a centre. It can be very scrutinized. We see a lot of leaders and people in the public service and the political world reacting with fear, or intimidation, lack of respect for other human beings. I think not only Canada but the world as a whole is called upon to really choose leaders who can generate unity and compassion throughout the world. This is how you find peace, right? I think it starts from within. And Justin has that capacity to swim through crazy waters but keep his vision, keep calm. He doesn't lose control. He analyzes. He opens up at that moment, whether it's in the boxing ring and he's getting shots, or whether it's in the political ring, or in nature. His personality stays true to who he is, wherever he is. And I think that's very reassuring."
"Justin's real weakness is, he's very much in his head. He intellectualizes a lot. I'm like 'hello?' And, I would say, it's another wife thing, but sometimes leaving his personal things out of order. I organize everything. Everything from the kids' lunch to the finances to the spending to the house, groceries, everything. He carries their travelling documents. For some reason. And you know, I choose my battles, so he can have that. And he doesn't forget that."
She admits their marriage hasn't been perfect, that they have seen a marriage counsellor. But revelations like that are standard fare for the Facebook and social media generation. "We're super open, we don't have much to keep secret. It's boring, relationship stuff. We were adjusting to life and to marriage."
As hyper-strategic and well-executed as the Liberal election campaign was, the couple's political career felt natural to Sophie, a yoga enthusiast who 30 years ago would have been a hippie, were she not also as practical as a nail.
"I feel all of this is made to happen," she said before the election. "And it's making deep sense. This whole political journey. Yes, in our life. For Justin in his life, as a man, I understand how all of this life, and my life, in other ways, prepared us to serve, and to serve fully, and to be surrounded by brilliant minds and hearts. That's a pure honour." She's not afraid of the logic of her feelings.
The Liberal majority in the federal election took most people by surprise. But the first time Justin Trudeau surprised his critics was three years earlier, when he clobbered tough-guy Senator Patrick Brazeau in a charity boxing match. Before the fight, Sophie kept repeating a mantra to her husband: "Stay humble." These days she still sees her job as protecting him. "He doesn't have a boundary. But what surrounds him can be disturbing. So my job is to create a distance. To keep your heart and mind and your eyes wide open to see the reality, wherever that is, in your life as a couple, your job, your kids. Not believing that you possess the truth, for me, is one basic value that we share, that's very important. And my job is to keep us grounded in those values, in those roots." Youth, beauty and an eye for the camera don't hurt either.