Has Stephen and Laureen Harper’s marriage hit a rough patch?

A recent column by Norman Spector, which was pulled shortly after publication on Friday from the Globe and Mail website and has since been posted on Spector’s own site, suggests that it might be. Although as Spector freely admits, it’s just a rumour, and a vague one at that.

“In Ottawa,” Andrew Cohen wrote in a recent column for the Ottawa Citizen, “tongues have been wagging for two years about trouble in one political marriage. One of the partners is now said to have left the nest. It hasn’t made the newspapers, at least not yet.”

Cohen doesn’t even explicitly connect Stepher Harper and his wife Laureen to that rumour. But Spector tells us that “being as far away from Ottawa as one can get, it was only a few months ago” that he’d first heard rumours that the “first couple” were living seperately – and that his efforts to confirm the rumour with two journalists in Ottawa gave him “the sense that it was likely true.” Indeed, he suspects that the main reason why Laureen recently joined her husband in their first joint television interview since he took office in 2006 was to put the rumour to rest.

A reasonable person might argue that this is all just gossip, that it’s got no bearing on Harper’s ability to do his job, and that it’s therefore none of our business. In a sense, I agree; I’m by no means a fan of the guy, but I don’t wish him any personal suffering, and I’m tempted to think that such suffering doesn’t deserve to make the papers simply because he’s a public figure.

On the other hand, Harper himself has said that his wife’s support is one of the reasons he has been “successful in this business.” Spector has a point when he notes that if Harper’s marriage is indeed troubled, then that’s “something that could affect his performance and lead to bizarre decisions.” And yes, given the power of the office, “the troubled marriage could impact all Canadians.”

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3 Responses to “Has Stephen and Laureen Harper’s marriage hit a rough patch?”

  1. Sure, it could affect his decision-making abilities. So could the loss of a relative. Or the stomach flu. He’s a human being, and as such is vulnerable to all of the same things any of us are. The only reason this is making the news is because it’s gossipy and it sells papers. Otherwise, it’s rather irrelevant. We don’t ask our surgeons if they’re experiencing marital difficulties before they perform surgery, do we? Nope.

  2. Matt says:

    Hey, Katrina! I’m inclined to agree, as noted, and I’d even like to add two other things.

    First, there’s a limited extent to which this actually is news. I think people are talking less about the rumour itself, and more about the way in which Spector put it out there, with admittedly little grounding. That’s certainly what I’ve tried to focus on here, and I hope I’ve done it well.

    Second, a friend noted on Facebook that he felt the title of this post was misleading, and would only contribute to spreading a rumour with questionable foundation. As much as I hope that anyone who read the title would also read the post, I can see his point. More on that to come.

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