Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien

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Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien, 20st Prime Minister of Canada Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Shawinigan, QC, Canada
Immediate Family:

Son of Willie Chrétien and Marie Chretien (Boisvert)
Widower of Aline Chrétien (Chainé)
Father of France Chrétien Desmarais; Private; Private and Private
Brother of Anonyme Chrétien; Maurice Chrétien; Marcel Chrétien; Carmenne Martel; Gabrielle Chrétien and 9 others

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Immediate Family

About Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien

Notes

Biography

Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien (born January 11, 1934), PC, OM, CC, QC, known commonly as Jean Chrétien (French pronunciation: ​[%CA%92%C9%91%CC%83 kʁetjɛ̃]) was the 20th Prime Minister of Canada. He served in the position for over ten years, from November 4, 1993 to December 12, 2003.

Born and raised in Shawinigan, Quebec, Chrétien is a law graduate from Université Laval. He was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1963. He served in various cabinet posts under prime minister Pierre Trudeau, most prominently as Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance, and Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. He also served as deputy prime minister in John Turner's short-lived government. He became leader of the Liberal Party of Canada in 1990, and led the party to a majority government in the 1993 federal election. He was re-elected with further majorities in 1997 and 2000.

Chrétien was strongly opposed to the Quebec sovereignty movement and supported official bilingualism and multiculturalism. He won a narrow victory as leader of the federalist camp in the 1995 Quebec Referendum, and then pioneered the Clarity Act to avoid ambiguity in future referendum questions. He also advanced the Youth Criminal Justice Act in Parliament. Although his popularity and that of the Liberal Party were seemingly unchallenged for three consecutive federal elections, he became subject to various political controversies in the later years of his premiership. He was accused of inappropriate behaviour in the Sponsorship Scandal, although he has consistently denied any wrongdoing. He also became embroiled in a protracted struggle within the Liberal Party against long-time political rival Paul Martin. He resigned as prime minister in December 2003, and left public life

Early life

Chrétien was born on January 11, 1934, in Shawinigan, Quebec, as the 18th of 19 children (10 of whom did not survive infancy) to Wellie Chrétien and Marie (née Boisvert). As a young boy his father made him read the dictionary. As a young man, Chrétien was well known for his love of violence, and as someone who relished his reputation as a local tough guy who was most happy when punching out his fellow students. One of Chrétien's classmates recalled that he was much feared on the account of his "atrocious temper". Chrétien attended Séminaire Saint-Joseph de Trois-Rivières and studied law at Université Laval. As a student at Trois-Rivières, Chrétien later recalled that his best day at that school was his first day when he attacked without provocation another student taller than himself, leading him to proudly remember that: "I really socked it to him bad. In front of everybody!". Chrétien recalled that his assault was meant to send the message to the other students: "Don't mess with Chrétien!". When asked in an interview about by his biographer Lawrence Martin about what subject he was he was best at in high school, Chrétien replied that: "It was street fighting that I was best at". He later made light of his humble origins, calling himself "le petit gars de Shawinigan", or the "little guy from Shawinigan". In his youth, he suffered an attack of Bell's palsy, permanently leaving the left side of his face partially paralyzed. Chrétien used this in his first Liberal leadership campaign, saying that he was "One politician who didn't talk out of both sides of his mouth." He is also deaf in one ear. On September 10, 1957, he married Aline Chainé. They have two sons (Hubert and Michel Chrétien) and one daughter (France).

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Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien's Timeline

1934
January 11, 1934
Shawinigan, QC, Canada
1958
July 5, 1958
QC, Canada