Unlike in the United States, the wife of the Prime Minister of Canada does not have a prominent role. Although some commentators have tried to style prime minister's wives as "First Lady of Canada," this title is not officially recognized. Use of the term is likely based more on the pervasive influence of American media than on any historical notions of a defined public role for the Prime Minister's spouse.
While the American First Lady has a number responsibilities and usually her own staff, the same is not true of the wife of the Prime Minister. This is partially a reflection of the much smaller role of the personal lives of politicians in Canadian media and the fact that the Canadian PM is not the head of state (see also Canadian Monarchy; Governor General of Canada).
Some Prime Ministers' wives have attracted a great deal of attention, however. Margaret Trudeau, who Pierre Trudeau married while in office, became a notable celebrity in her own right, especially during and after the couple's divorce. Maureen McTeer, in turn, attracted controversy when she became the first spouse of a Prime Minister to retain her own surname after marriage. Mila Mulroney also rose to some notoriety due to her extravagant spending habits.
At times, Prime Ministers' wives have used their public status to promote charitable causes--Mila Mulroney was a spokesperson for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and other children's charities and Aline Chrétien was an active campaigner for literacy programs.
Canada has also had a long tradition of bachelor Prime Ministers. William Lyon Mackenzie King, R.B. Bennett and Pierre Trudeau were all noted bachelors. Canada has had one female Prime Minister, Kim Campbell. However, as she was not married during her term in office, there has never been a "husband of the Prime Minister."