August 03, 1981 12:00 PM

As the host of the seven-nation economic summit in Ottawa, Canada’s Pierre Trudeau was in the headlines last week. But speculation has it that he may not be there much longer. The reason: his concern for his children—Justin, 9, Sacha, 7, and Michel, 5.

Since Trudeau’s 1977 estrangement from his volatile wife, Margaret, he has raised the boys. Nowadays their mother, 32, lives only two blocks away from the Prime Minister’s mansion in Ottawa. She’s ensconced in a town house (on which Pierre holds a $100,000 mortgage) with her love of late, James Johnson, a lawyer and wealthy furniture business owner who looks a lot like Robert Redford. Maggie is typically open about the arrangement. When asked whether news reports of the live-in liaison would bother her, she said: “Well, it’s true.” If it bothers Pierre, he’ll never say. To any inquiries about his personal life he snaps: “I pay people to say ‘No comment’ to questions like that.”

Trudeau’s worries, however, are not about the flower child he married in 1971, but about their offspring. Almost every day he speeds home in a limo from Parliament to lunch with them, and occasionally he surprises the parents of the children’s school chums by dropping by their homes to join in some belly-on-the-family-room-floor games. But Trudeau, 61, craves more time with the kids while they are still young. He’s concerned that they’re not fluent in French, so he has enrolled them in school in Montreal this fall. That only fuels rumors that Pierre, who is in his second year of a five-year term, is about to resign. There are reports that he’s given notice to tenants to vacate his house in Montreal’s Mont Royal section (which he bought when he was defeated in a 1979 election but has never lived in).

Margaret has calmed down considerably since the days following their separation, when she flitted from photography to writing to acting—and flirted from man to man. Now she calls herself a “housewife” (in a liberal interpretation of the word) and friends say she’s never been happier. She didn’t get rich off her tell-all book, Beyond Reason (its publisher, Paddington Press, went out of business owing her a reported $750,000), but now she’s dictating notes for a ghostwriter who will turn out her second (still secret) opus. Meanwhile she’s having fun and earning money giving Japanese cooking lessons to friends for $50 a session. There’s some talk that she may give similar lessons on TV.

But Maggie says that her first priority—like Pierre’s—is the kids. This week, all five Trudeaus are scheduled to travel to London together. While Maggie promotes her new book, Pierre will look after the boys, and she’ll do the same for him while he attends the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

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