'My Story' about vindication, not revenge: Couillard
Andy Johnson, CTV.ca News
Published Tuesday, October 7, 2008 8:00PM EDT
Julie Couillard isn't a scorned woman seeking revenge against former lover Maxime Bernier.
Instead, she says her new tell-all book about her relationship with the former foreign affairs minister is an attempt to clear her name and show Canadians the kind of man Bernier really is.
"The sole reason why I had to write this book was because there were a lot of things said about me that weren't true," Couillard tells CTV's Canada AM.
Bernier, a popular Quebec minister, resigned from the federal cabinet after it was revealed he had left sensitive NATO documents at Couillard's home.
He had stuck to his post despite revelations that Couillard had been romantically involved with men who had ties to Hells Angels.
The revelations set off a storm of questions about Bernier's own judgment, but it was the misplaced NATO documents that sealed his fate.
Bernier, who was elected in 2006, had been viewed by many as a hand-picked star in Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's cabinet, and a vital part of his plan to gain ground among Quebec voters.
In her book, titled "My Story", Couillard paints a picture of a man who, in private, insulted his own constituents and referred to Prime Minister Stephen Harper as fat.
In a sit-down interview with CTV.ca following her Canada AM appearance, Couillard said she actually limited how much she revealed about their private life. But the details about their relationship were vital, Couillard says, not to make Bernier look bad but to strip away the veneer and show Canadians who he really is.
"I thought it was important...so the reader will have a real picture of whom I was with, what type of man I was with and what I lived through with him, so they will understand better not his action but the lack of action that he had in this whole tsunami of a mediatic circus that came into my life."
Slim and pretty in person, wearing a modest blazer and turtleneck sweater, the soft-spoken Couillard says her main issue with Bernier is that he never stood up for her when her name was being dragged through the mud after they had broken up.
"Maxime didn't react and say a word," she vents during her first day of live media interviews in English Canada.
"And by saying nothing to the public it was like sending a message that he was endorsing all those written lies that they were saying about me, after not minding at all that I was good enough and dignified enough to accompany him and meet all those dignitaries for a year -- talking with the first lady and the president of the United States and having intimate suppers with the prime minister and Mrs. Harper.
"How is it that you could not even come forward and say 'hold on here, the woman that you're portraying has nothing to do with who she really is'? He had the tools, he had the power. He was the politician not me."
The 320-page tome is published in English by McClelland & Stewart in Toronto and hit shelves on Oct. 6. The French version is published by Les Editions de l'Homme in Montreal.
It has been described by her publicists as "completely open and honest," describing her entire life, including her youth in a working-class Montreal neighbourhood, right up to the present day.
"There's definitely some things that will be perceived as being very timely, especially given that the election is coming," Josh Glover, of McClelland & Stewart, told The Canadian Press ahead of the book's release.
Couillard says she's making progress clearing her name.
She is beginning to shift Canadians' perceptions through the book, media interviews, and by letting people see her and hear what she has to say, she says.
"It has changed the public opinion a lot by me coming out. And you have to understand that before people didn't have access to the other side, at least now my true story is there and if they have an open mind they can access it."