Deborah Coyne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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.

Early life[edit]

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.

Early career[edit]

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.

Opposition to the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords[edit]

Deborah Coyne took a role in opposing the Meech Lake Accord,[2] 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.

Political career[edit]

Until the 2006 federal election was called, she was a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.[3] 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%.

In the next federal election, Coyne was nominated in April 2007[4] to again compete against Layton[5] and Green Party candidate Charles Battershill.[6] However, Coyne unexpectedly announced to her supporters via email on November 4, 2007 that she was withdrawing her candidacy because "it became clear that it was going to be very difficult to raise money from friends and family, who basically helped (her) out, to run a second time."[7] She also stated that she "decided to bow out and refocus her energies on her consulting business."[8] Nonetheless, on January 10, 2008, she filed her nomination papers for the riding of Don Valley West which was held by Liberal MP John Godfrey who announced on November 26, 2007 that he would retire in July 2008. Others interested in the nomination included former Liberal MP Sarmite Bulte,[9] Abdul Ingar, a local imam,[7] United Church Minister Rob Oliphant, and Jonathan Mousley, a former legislative assistant to former Liberal Cabinet minister David Collenette.[10] In February 2008, Coyne accused Oliphant and Bulte's supporters of paying the requisite fees of members their respective campaigns had signed up,[11] an act which is illegal under the Canada Elections Act if the candidate fails to disclose it.[11] Coyne said that while she wasn't accusing Oliphant or Bulte of personally signing up new members improperly, every candidate must be held responsible for the actions of their representatives.[12] On February 25, 2008, Coyne withdrew from the nomination race in Don Valley West and endorsed Rob Oliphant.[13]

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 2012–2013 leadership contest,[14] which was won ultimately by Justin Trudeau. Her campaign was managed by blogger Jeff Jedras. [15]

Following the leadership campaign, Coyne made an unsuccessful bid for the Liberal Party of Canada's nomination in Ottawa West-Nepean in 2014.[16][17]

Defection 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." [18] Coyne is the Green Party of Canada candidate in the Ottawa riding of Carleton for the 2015 federal election.[19]


Deborah Coyne is the cousin of journalist Andrew Coyne and actress Susan Coyne, and the niece of former Bank of Canada governor James Coyne. Deborah Coyne now lives with her family in Toronto. For years, she dated former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.[20] Her daughter, Sarah Elisabeth Coyne, is Trudeau's only daughter, and was enrolled in the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.[21] Her son, Matthew, is the son of Canadian journalist Michael Valpy. Valpy and Coyne have since divorced.

Published works[edit]

  • Roll of the Dice: Working with Clyde Wells during the Meech Lake Accord, Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 1992.
  • Seven Fateful Challenges for Canada: A Viable and Dynamic Canada in an Interdependent World, Montreal/Toronto: Robert Davies Publishing, 1993.


  1. ^ a b Binks, Georgie (2012). "She wants "one Canada for all Canadians"". Queen's Alumni Review. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ National Post article citing biographical information related to Deborah Coyne
  3. ^ "Constitutional expert may run for Liberals". CBC News. 2005-05-17. Retrieved 2015-07-01. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Delacort, Susan (2007-03-24). "Election fever gripping parties: Liberals and NDP hold nomination meetings in case Tories call vote". Toronto Star (TorStar Digital). Retrieved 2007-03-24. 
  6. ^ Town Crier article by Karolyn Coorsh
  7. ^ a b Cowan, James, "Tough fight expected for Liberal nomination", National Post, January 28, 2008
  8. ^ Queen, Lisa, "Coyne switches ridings for nomination", The North York Mirror, January 22, 2008
  9. ^ "Orchard knew Liberals wanted an aboriginal woman in Sask. byelection: Goodale", Canadian Press, June 9, 2008
  10. ^ Rana, Abbas, "Don Valley West Liberal nomination getting crowded, Bulte and Mousley interested", Hill Times, January 14, 2008
  11. ^ a b "Bitter fight for Liberal nomination in Don Valley West", Canadian Press, February 15, 2008
  12. ^ "Membership controversy unleashes bitter rivalry: Gloves off in Don Valley West Liberal race", Inside Toronto, February 19, 2008
  13. ^ "DVW Liberal Nomination Candidate Deborah Coyne Withdraws From Race and Supports Rob Oliphant",, accessed March 1, 2008
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ "A feast for Ottawa's political junkies". Ottawa Sun. February 9, 2015. Retrieved February 26, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Deborah Coyne looks to run in Ottawa", Ottawa Citizen, February 17, 2014.
  18. ^ "Former Trudeau rival Deborah Coyne leaves the red tent for a Green Party post", National Post, February 26, 2015.
  19. ^ "Greens pick Deborah Coyne to contest new Carleton riding". Ottawa Citizen. August 1, 2015. Retrieved August 1, 2015. 
  20. ^ English, John (2009). Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968–2000. Toronto: Knopf Canada. pp. 631–632. ISBN 9780676975239. 
  21. ^ Popplewell, Brett (November 24, 2010). "Pierre Trudeau's daughter, Sarah, lives under the radar". The Toronto Star (Toronto). Retrieved 2012-04-06. 

External links[edit]