Deborah Coyne

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Deborah Coyne
Deborah Coyne.jpg
Born Deborah Margaret Ryland Coyne
February 24, 1955 (1955-02-24) (age 60)
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater Queen's University
Osgoode Hall Law School
University of Oxford
Occupation Lawyer, professor, author
Political party Liberal (before 2015)
Green (2015-present)
Spouse(s) Michael Valpy (divorced)
Children 2

Deborah Margaret Ryland Coyne (born February 24, 1955) is a Canadian constitutional lawyer, professor, and author. She is the cousin of journalist Andrew Coyne and actress Susan Coyne, and the niece of former Bank of Canada governor James Coyne.


Coyne grew up in Ottawa.[1] She graduated from Queen's University with a degree in economics and history in 1976.[1] She received a Bachelor of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in 1979 and a Master of Philosophy from University of Oxford in international relations in 1982.

She was an employee in the Prime Minister's Office of John Turner, before spending two years teaching constitutional law at the University of Toronto Law School; she has also worked for the Business Council on National Issues, the Ontario Health Service Appeal and Review Board, and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

Deborah Coyne now lives with her family in Ottawa. For years, she dated former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.[2] Her daughter, Sarah Elisabeth Coyne, is Trudeau's only daughter, and was enrolled in the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.[3] Her son, Matthew Coyne, is the son of Canadian journalist Michael Valpy. Valpy and Coyne have since divorced.

Political involvement[edit]

Opposition to the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords[edit]

Deborah Coyne took a role in opposing the Meech Lake Accord,[4] a comprehensive package of constitutional amendments designed to gain the province of Quebec's formal acceptance of the Constitution Act, 1982. Coyne was among many prominent Liberals who disagreed with the Accord, including Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Donald Johnston and Jean Chrétien, although the issue split the federal Liberal caucus. She was a founding member of the Canadian Coalition on the Constitution, a grass-roots group that opposed the agreement. From 1989 to 1991, Coyne served as constitutional advisor to Newfoundland Premier Clyde Wells. Among the premiers, Wells was the staunchest opponent of the Meech Lake Constitutional Accord. Following the death of the Accord, partly at the hands of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, she opposed the Charlottetown Accord, a subsequent attempt to amend the Canadian constitution. The Charlottetown agreement was submitted to a national referendum in 1992 and was ultimately rejected by a majority of Canadian voters. Coyne led one of the "No" committees in the campaign and spoke widely against the deal.

Liberal candidate[edit]

Until the 2006 federal election was called, she was a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.[5] In that election, she ran in the electoral district of Toronto—Danforth as a Liberal Party candidate against New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton. Coyne finished second to Layton with 17,256 votes, or 34.2%.

Coyne was nominated in March 2007[6] as the Liberal Party of Canada candidate in Toronto Danforth but withdrew later in the year.[7] In 2008, she sought the federal Liberal nomination in the riding of Don Valley West but withdrew in favour of Rob Oliphant.[8]

Liberal leadership campaign[edit]

On June 27, 2012, Coyne announced that she would be a candidate for leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, during the Party's 2013 leadership contest,[9] which was won ultimately by Justin Trudeau. Her campaign was managed by blogger Jeff Jedras.[10]

Following the leadership campaign, Coyne made an unsuccessful bid for the Liberal Party of Canada's nomination in Ottawa West-Nepean in 2014.[11][12]

Move to the Green Party[edit]

On February 26, 2015, Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May announced that Coyne had been appointed as a senior policy advisor, noting "Deborah's thoughtful approach to One Canada for all Canadians complements the vision of the Green Party of Canada." [13] Coyne was the Green Party of Canada candidate in the Ottawa riding of Carleton for the 2015 federal election, where she finished fourth with just over 3% of the vote.[14]

Since the 2015 federal election, Deborah has stepped away from partisan politics and no longer holds a membership in any political party.

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015: Carleton
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Pierre Poilievre 27,762 46.9% -14.8
Liberal Chris Rodgers 25,913 43.7% +22.7
New Democratic KC Larocque 3,632 6.1% -7.3
Green Deborah Coyne 1,932 3.3% -0.8
Total valid votes/Expense limit 59,239 100.0     $204,911.88
Total rejected ballots 196
Turnout 59,435 81.0%
Eligible voters 73,418
Conservative hold Swing -18.7%
Canadian federal election, 2006: Toronto—Danforth
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
New Democratic Jack Layton 24,412 48.42 +2.08 $ 74,966.33
Liberal Deborah Coyne 17,256 34.23 -7.11 74,304.11
Conservative Kren Clausen 4,992 9.90 +3.69 32,138.91
Green Al Hart 3,583 7.11 +1.73 6,770.73
Marxist–Leninist Marcell Rodden 172 0.34 +0.16 –  
Total valid votes/Expense limit 50,415 100.00 $ 76,419.79
Total rejected ballots 242 0.48 -0.08
Turnout 50,657 67.67 +3.57
New Democratic hold Swing +4.6

Published works[edit]

  • — (1984). Monetary and financial reform: the North-South controversy. Ottawa: North-South Institute. ISBN 0-92049440-4. 
  • —; Howse, Robert (1992). No deal!: why Canadians should reject the Mulroney constitution. Hull: Voyageur Publishing. ISBN 0-92184220-1. 
  • — (1992). Roll of the Dice: Working with Clyde Wells during the Meech Lake Accord. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co. ISBN 1-55028369-3. 
  • — (1993). Seven Fateful Challenges for Canada: A Viable and Dynamic Canada in an Interdependent World. Montreal/Toronto: Robert Davies Publishing. ISBN 1-89585406-7. 
  • Valpy, Michael; — (1998). To Match a Dream: A Practical Guide to Canada's Constitution. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 0-77102277-8. 
  • — (2013). Unscripted: A Life Devoted to Building a Better Canada. Toronto: Canadian Writers Group. 


  1. ^ a b Binks, Georgie (2012). "She wants "one Canada for all Canadians"". Queen's Alumni Review. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ English, John (2009). Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968–2000. Toronto: Knopf Canada. pp. 631–632. ISBN 9780676975239. 
  3. ^ Popplewell, Brett (November 24, 2010). "Pierre Trudeau's daughter, Sarah, lives under the radar". The Toronto Star (Toronto). Retrieved 2012-04-06. 
  4. ^ National Post article citing biographical information related to Deborah Coyne
  5. ^ "Constitutional expert may run for Liberals". CBC News. 2005-05-17. Retrieved 2015-07-01. 
  6. ^ Coyne, Deborah (2007-03-24). "Notes for remarks by Deborah Coyne on the occasion of her nomination as the federal Liberal candidate for the riding of Toronto-Danforth" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-07-01. 
  7. ^ Cowan, James, "Tough fight expected for Liberal nomination", National Post, January 28, 2008
  8. ^ "DVW Liberal Nomination Candidate Deborah Coyne Withdraws From Race and Supports Rob Oliphant",, accessed March 1, 2008
  9. ^ Bryden, Joan (27 June 2012). "Liberal leadership race gains new Trudeau tie as Deborah Coyne announces plans to run". National Post. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  10. ^ Bryden, Joan (January 18, 2013). "Deborah Coyne and Joyce Murray say top Liberal brass are subverting the leadership process". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  11. ^ "A feast for Ottawa's political junkies". Ottawa Sun. February 9, 2015. Retrieved February 26, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Deborah Coyne looks to run in Ottawa", Ottawa Citizen, February 17, 2014.
  13. ^ "Former Trudeau rival Deborah Coyne leaves the red tent for a Green Party post", National Post, February 26, 2015.
  14. ^ "Greens pick Deborah Coyne to contest new Carleton riding". Ottawa Citizen. August 1, 2015. Retrieved August 1, 2015. 

External links[edit]