JEAN CHRETIEN Biography - Polititians


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Name: Joseph Jacques Jean Chretien                                                                             
Born: 11 January 1934 Shawinigan, Quebec                                                                       
Joseph Jacques Jean Chretien (generally known as Jean Chretien) (born                                         
January 11, 1934), is a Canadian politician who was the twentieth Prime Minister                               
of Canada from November 4, 1993, to December 12, 2003, and leader of the Liberal                               
Party of Canada from 1990 to 2003.                                                                             
Born in Shawinigan, Quebec, as the 18th of 19 children (10 of whom did not                                     
survive infancy) to Wellie Chretien and Marie Boisvert, Jean Chretien studied                                 
law at Université Laval. Chretien would later make 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. Chretien 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."                                                                         
On September 10, 1957, he married Aline Chainé. They have two sons (Hubert                                   
Chretien and Michel) and one daughter (France). He stands 6' (1.83 metres) tall.                               
Jean Chretien practised law in Shawinigan until he was first elected to the                                   
Canadian House of Commons as a Liberal from the riding of Saint-Maurice–Laflèche                           
in the 1963 election. He would represent this Shawinigan-based riding, renamed                                 
Saint-Maurice in 1968, for all but eight of the next 41 years.                                                 
After re-election in the 1965 election, he served as parliamentary secretary (junior                           
minister) to Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson (1965) and then to Minister of                                   
Finance, Mitchell Sharp (1966). He was selected for appointment as Minister of                                 
National Revenue in 1968 by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.                                                     
After the June 1968 election, he was appointed Minister of Indian Affairs and                                 
Northern Development. His most notable achievement in this role was the 1969                                   
White Paper, a proposal to abolish the Indian Act. The paper was widely opposed                               
by First Nations groups, and later abandoned.                                                                 
During the October Crisis, Chretien told Trudeau to "act now, explain later",                                 
when Trudeau was hesitant to invoke the War Measures Act. 85% of Canadians                                     
agreed with the move. In 1974, he was appointed President of the Treasury Board;                               
and beginning in 1976, he served as Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce. In                               
1977, following the resignation of Finance Minister John Turner, Chretien                                     
succeeded him. He was the first francophone Minister of Finance, and remains one                               
of only three francophones to hold that post.                                                                 
Early in his career, Chretien was described by Dalton Camp as looking like the                                 
driver of the getaway car, a condescending assessment which stuck with him, and                               
which was often cited by journalists and others throughout his career, and                                     
usually ironically considering his eventual success.                                                           
Chretien stands alongside Pierre Trudeau as André Ouellet approaches Elizabeth                               
II to sign the Constitution Act, 1982.                                                                         
The Liberals lost power in 1979. When they regained power in 1980, Chretien was                               
appointed Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. In this role, he                                 
was a major force in the 1980 Quebec referendum, being one of the main federal                                 
representatives "on the ground" during the campaign. His fiery and emotional                                   
speeches would enthrall federalist crowds, and his blunt warnings of the                                       
consequences of separation earned him a reputation as a "straight shooter." He                                 
also served as Minister of State for Social Development and Minister Responsible                               
for Constitutional Negotiations, playing a significant role in the patriation of                               
the Constitution of Canada in 1982. He was the chief negotiatator of what would                               
be called the "Kitchen Accord", an agreement which led to the agreement of 9                                   
provinces to patriation. His role in the dealings, however, would forever follow                               
him in his native Quebec, who did not ratify the Constitution (although the                                   
Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Quebec was bound by it). In 1982, Chretien                                 
was appointed Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources.                                                         
After Trudeau announced his retirement in early 1984 as Liberal Party leader and                               
Prime Minister, Chretien sought the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.                                 
The experience was a hard one for Chretien, as many of his longtime Cabinet                                   
allies supported the Turner campaign. He was thought to be a dark horse until                                 
the end, but lost on the second ballot to John Turner at the leadership                                       
convention that June. Iona Campagnolo would ominously introduce Chretien as, "Second                           
on the ballot, but first in our hearts." Turner personally appointed him Deputy                               
Prime Minister, and selected him for appointment by the Governor General as                                   
Secretary of State for External Affairs (foreign minister). Relations between                                 
the two were strained, especially after the Liberals were severely defeated in                                 
the 1984 election. Chretien was one of only 17 Liberals elected from Quebec (the                               
party had won 74 out of 75 seats in 1980) In 1986, Chretien resigned his seat                                 
and left public life for a time. Now working in the private sector again,                                     
Chretien sat on the boards of several corporations. These corporations included                               
the Power Corporation of Canada subsidiary Consolidated Bathurst, the Toronto-Dominion                         
Bank, and the Brick Warehouse Corporation, among others.                                                       
Chretien would be a major focal point of dissatisfaction with Turner, with many                               
polls showing his popularity. His book, Straight from the Heart, was a best-seller.                           
After Turner's resignation as leader in 1989, Chretien announced he would run                                 
for the party leadership at the June 1990 Liberal leadership convention in                                     
Calgary, Alberta.                                                                                             
Chretien's principal opponent, Paul Martin, was generally seen as the                                         
ideological heir to John Turner, while Chretien was the ideological heir to                                   
Trudeau. A key moment in that race took place at an all-candidates debate in                                   
Montreal, where the discussion quickly turned to the Meech Lake Accord. Martin                                 
attempted to force Chretien to abandon his nuanced position on the deal and                                   
declare for or against it. When Chretien refused to endorse the deal, young                                   
Liberal delegates crowding the hall began to chant "vendu" ("sellout" in French)                               
and "Judas" at Chretien. Martin continues to state he had nothing to do with the                               
response from the floor, or a similar outburst by his supporters at the                                       
convention, in which Chretien defeated Martin on the first and only ballot.                                   
However, his reputation in his home province never recovered.                                                 
In December, Chretien returned to the House of Commons after winning a by-election                             
in the safe Liberal riding of Beauséjour, New Brunswick. The incumbent, Fernand                               
Robichaud, stood down in Chretien's favour, which is traditional practice when a                               
newly elected party leader doesn't have a seat in Parliament.                                                 
Chretien later revealed himself to be as staunchly federalist as Trudeau.                                     
However, he supported the Charlottetown Accord while Trudeau opposed it.                                       
When Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney began to lose ground                               
in the polls, Chretien was the major beneficiary. In particular, Chretien reaped                               
a major windfall after Mulroney introduced an unpopular Goods and Services Tax.                               
Mulroney's approval ratings declined and by 1993, opinion polls showed that his                               
Conservative Party would almost certainly be defeated by the Liberals under                                   
Chretien in the election due that year. Mulroney announced his retirement in                                   
February, and was succeeded by National Defense Minister Kim Campbell in June.                                 
Campbell managed to pull the Conservatives to within a few percentage points of                               
the Liberals by the time the writs were dropped in September.                                                 
Campbell, however, had little luck overcoming the tremendous antipathy toward                                 
Mulroney, despite a substantial bounce from the leadership convention. Chretien                               
saw an opportunity, and on September 19, he dropped a bombshell by releasing the                               
entire Liberal platform. The 112-page document, Creating Opportunity, quickly                                 
became known as the Red Book because of its bright red cover. It was a very                                   
specific and detailed statement of exactly what a Chretien government would do                                 
in office.                                                                                                     
The Liberals did not promise to remove the GST altogether as a revenue producing                               
agent. Instead, the Red Book pledged to replace the GST "with a system that                                   
generates equivalent revenues, is fairer to consumers and to small business,                                   
minimizes disruption to small business, and promotes federal-provincial fiscal                                 
cooperation and harmonization."                                                                               
Chretien promised to renegotiate of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and                               
reform to the unemployment insurance system. Above all, he promised to return                                 
Canada to fiscal solvency. As proof, the Red Book gave costs for each of the                                   
Liberals' policy goals — the first time a Canadian party had gone to such                                   
lengths to prove that its proposals were fiscally responsible. In their first                                 
mandate in the 1993 election, they attempted to merge the GST, however most                                   
provinces refused to accept this change after the election. The Conservatives                                 
put forward the idea that Chretien had actually promised to "Scrap the GST"                                   
leading to wide public misperception.                                                                         
The Red Book gave the Liberals the reputation as the party with ideas, since                                   
none of the other parties had anything comparable. The Liberals quickly surged                                 
to a double-digit lead in most opinion polls. By October, it was obvious that                                 
the Liberals would win at least a minority government. Even at this stage,                                     
however, Chretien's personal approval ratings were far behind those of Campbell.                               
Realizing this, the Tory campaign team released a series of ads attacking                                     
Chretien. The second ad, released on October 14, appeared to mock Chretien's                                   
facial paralysis, and generated a severe backlash from all sides. Even some Tory                               
candidates called for the ad to be yanked. Campbell was not directly responsible                               
for the ad, but ordered it off the air over her staff's objections. However, she                               
didn't apologize and lost a chance to contain the fallout from the ad.                                         
Chretien, taking advantage of the furor, likening the Tories to the children who                               
teased him when he was a boy in Shawinigan. "When I was a kid people were                                     
laughing at me," he said at an appearance in Nova Scotia. "But I accepted that                                 
because God gave me other qualities and I'm grateful." The speech, which one                                   
Tory described as one Chretien had waited his whole life to deliver, moved many                               
in the audience to tears. Chretien's approval ratings shot up, nullifying the                                 
only advantage the Conservatives still had over him. All told, the ad flap all                                 
but assured that the Liberals would win a majority government.                                                 
On October 25, the Liberals were elected to an overwhelming majority government,                               
winning 177 seats — the third-best performance in the Liberals' history, and                                 
their most impressive win since their record of 190 seats in 1949. The Tories                                 
were nearly evicted from the House of Commons, winning only two seats in the                                   
worst defeat ever suffered by a governing party at the federal level. Chretien                                 
himself yielded Beauséjour back to Robichaud in order to run in his old riding,                               
Saint-Maurice. However, he was unable to lead the Liberals back to their                                       
traditional dominance in Quebec. He was one of only four Liberal MPs elected                                   
from that province outside the Montreal area.                                                                 
On November 4, 1993, Chretien was appointed by Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn as                               
prime minister. While Trudeau, Joe Clark and Mulroney had been relative                                       
political outsiders prior to becoming prime minister, Chretien had served in                                   
every Liberal cabinet since 1965. This experience gave him a masterful knowledge                               
of the Canadian parliamentary system, and allowed Chretien to establish a very                                 
centralized government that, although highly efficient, was also lambasted by                                 
critics as being a "friendly dictatorship" and intolerant of internal dissent.                                 
Chretien turned most of his attention to clearing away the massive debt he had                                 
inherited from the Mulroney / Campbell era. He was assisted by Martin. The                                     
government began a program of deep cuts to provincial transfers and other areas                               
of government finance. During his tenure as Prime Minister, a $42 billion                                     
deficit was eliminated, five consecutive budget surpluses were recorded, $36                                   
billion in debt was paid down, and taxes were cut by $100 billion (cumulatively)                               
over 5 years, the largest tax cut in Canadian history.[3] There were, however,                                 
undeniable costs associated with this endeavour. The cuts would result in fewer                               
government services, most noticeably in the health care sector, as major                                       
reductions in federal funding to the provinces meant significant cuts in service                               
delivery. Moreover, the across-the- board cuts affected the operations and                                     
achievement of the mandate of most federal departments. Many of the cuts would                                 
be restored in later years of Chretien's period in office.                                                     
One of Chretien's main focuses in office was preventing the separation of the                                 
province of Quebec, which was ruled by the separatist Parti Québécois for nearly                             
the Prime Minister's entire term. After the 1995 referendum very narrowly                                     
defeated a proposal on Quebec sovereignty, the government passed what became                                   
known as the Clarity Act, which said that no Canadian government would                                         
acknowledge a Quebec declaration of independence unless a "clear majority"                                     
supported sovereignty in a referendum based on a "clear question", as defined by                               
the Parliament of Canada. The size of a "clear majority" was left unspecified,                                 
but the Supreme Court of Canada made it clear that such a majority would not be                               
"50% plus one vote".                                                                                           
On November 5, 1995, Chretien and his wife escaped injury when André Dallaire,                               
armed with a knife, broke in the Prime Minister's official residence at 24                                     
Sussex Drive. Aline Chretien shut and locked the bedroom door until security                                   
came. It is said Jean was ready to defend himself with a sharp-edged Inuit                                     
Taking advantage of the split status of the political right, Chretien easily won                               
another majority government in 1997.                                                                           
Chretien was involved in a controversy again in November, 1997, when the Asia-Pacific                         
Economic Cooperation summit was held on the University of British Columbia                                     
campus in Vancouver. The APEC summit was a summit of many Asian and Pacific                                   
countries, and students on UBC's campus protested the meeting of some of these                                 
leaders because of their poor human rights practices. One of the leaders most                                 
criticized was then Indonesian President Suharto. Demonstrators tore down a                                   
barrier and were pepper-sprayed. Other peaceful demonstrators were subsequently                               
pepper-sprayed as well. There was debate over whether the action was necessary.                               
Chretien responded to the media's questions about the incident by saying "For me,                             
pepper, I put it on my plate." Allegations soon arose that someone in the Prime                               
Minister's Office or Chretien himself gave the go-ahead for the pepper spraying                               
of protestors. Chretien denied any involvement.                                                               
In 1999, Chretien supported Canada's involvement in NATO's bombing campaign of                                 
Yugoslavia over the issue of Kosovo. The 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal                                     
Republic of Yugoslavia was NATO's and Canada's first deliberate non-defensive                                 
aggression against another sovereign state.                                                                   
The government under Chretien's prime ministership also introduced a new and far-reaching                     
Youth Criminal Justice Act, which replaced the old Young Offenders Act, and                                   
changed the way youths were prosecuted for crimes in Canada.                                                   
Chretien was known to be friendly in foreign policy towards the People's                                       
Republic of China. He led four "Team Canada" trade missions to China, and                                     
sharply increased the amount of trade between the two countries during his                                     
tenure as Prime Minister. Under his leadership, China and Canada signed several                               
bilateral relations agreements.                                                                               
With the Canadian political right still split, Chretien called an early election                               
in 2000, two years ahead of requirement, winning his third straight mandate.                                   
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks upon the United States, North                                     
American airspace was shut down and many Canadians opened up their homes to                                   
stranded travellers. Chretien praised Operation Yellow Ribbon, saying that it                                 
was one of the ways it showed the best of Canadians in a time of tragedy for                                   
their American friends and neighbours down south. In response to those attacks,                               
Canadian forces joined with multinational forces that invaded Afghanistan to                                   
pursue al-Qaeda forces there.                                                                                 
President George W. Bush and Jean Chretien address the media before a 2002                                     
bilateral meeting.                                                                                             
Chretien directed the Crown not to support the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. His                               
reasoning was that the war lacked UN Security Council sanction; while not a                                   
member of the Security Council, Canada nevertheless attempted to build a                                       
consensus for a resolution authorizing the use of force after a short (two to                                 
three month) extension to UN weapon inspections in Iraq. (Critics also noted                                   
that, while in opposition, he had also opposed the first US-led Gulf War.)                                     
Although criticism from right-wing opposition was vocal, the move proved popular                               
with the Canadian public in general. In December of 2003, it emerged that the                                 
government had prepared plans for Canada to send as many as 800 Canadian troops                               
to Iraq if the UN Security Council had authorized it; however, a UN request for                               
an increased deployment of Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan removed this option                               
from the table. This led some of Chretien's anti-war critics on the left to                                   
accuse the Prime Minister of never really being fully opposed to the war.                                     
Nonetheless, Canada was the first non-member of the US-led coalition to provide                               
significant financial aid to the post-war reconstruction effort, relative to                                   
Canada's size. This move allowed Canadian companies to bid on reconstruction