Jean Chrétien Biography

Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien, a Canadian lawyer and politician, served as the Prime Minister of Canada from November 1993 to December 2003. With a background in law and a successful political career, Chrétien played a significant role in the patriation of the Canadian Constitution and the Canadian Charters of Rights and Freedom. His close association with former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau allowed him to hold various ministerial positions, including Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance, and Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. As the leader of the Liberal Party, Chrétien led his party to victory in the 1993 elections and became the 20th Prime Minister of Canada. During his tenure, Canada experienced its first surplus in over 30 years. However, his decision to support the USA in the war against Afghanistan while refusing to send help during the American invasion of Iraq created a divide among his supporters.

Quick Facts

  • Canadian Celebrities Born In January
  • Also Known As: Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien
  • Age: 89 Years, 89 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Aline Chrétien
    • Father: Wellie Chrétien
    • Mother: Marie Boisvert
    • Siblings: Michel Chrétien
    • Children: France Chrétien Desmarais, Hubert Chrétien, Michel Chrétien
  • Prime Ministers
  • Political Leaders
  • Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), 6’0″ Males
  • Ancestry: French Canadian
  • Notable Alumni: Université Laval
  • Education: Université Laval
  • Awards: Companion of the Order of Canada, Order of Friendship

Childhood & Early Life

Jean Chretien was born on January 11, 1934, in Quebec, Canada. He was one of the 19 children of Marie and Wellie Chretien. Wellie was a strong Canadian nationalist and supported the war efforts during World War II, which made him a controversial figure. Despite the opposition from the Canadian-French community, Wellie held onto his principles, making their family outcasts. Jean inherited his father’s strong will and aggression, often getting into fights and bullying his weaker classmates.

At the age of 12, Jean developed Bell’s palsy, which caused paralysis on one side of his face. However, he never let it affect his confidence and always joked about it. He had a passion for reading and discussing politics, often participating in rallies and distributing pamphlets for his favorite politicians.

Jean graduated in law from Laval University in 1959 and started working with a political firm in Shawinigan. Despite his law career, his support for the Liberal Party and interest in politics remained strong.

Political Career

In 1963, Jean Chretien ran for a seat in the House of Commons and won, becoming a strong supporter of the Liberal Party. He joined the cabinet of Prime Minister Lester Pearson and later served as the Minister of National Revenue. When Pierre Trudeau became Prime Minister, Jean’s portfolio expanded to include various ministries such as Treasury Board, Industry, Trade, Commerce, Finance, Energy, Mines and Resources, and Aboriginal Affairs.

In 1980, Jean became the Minister of Justice and gained popularity for his emotional and strong speeches. He played a significant role in the patriation of the Canadian constitution and the enactment of the Charters of Rights and Freedom.

Despite facing tough competition, Jean became the leader of the Liberal Party in 1990. Under his leadership, the party focused on job creation during the 1993 elections. The Liberal Party secured a clean victory, and Jean became the 20th Prime Minister of Canada.

During his first term, Jean made difficult decisions to address Canada’s high annual deficit, national debt, and unpopular tax rates. He cut down on federal programs and maintained the Goods and Service Tax, despite promising to abolish it. Within five years, the nation saw a surplus, and Jean’s economic cooperation and trade missions with other countries helped strengthen Canada’s position.

In 1997, the Liberal Party won the federal elections again, thanks to the apparent economic turnaround. Jean focused on domestic politics, particularly countering the newly formed Canadian Alliance Party. The Liberal Party secured a clean victory for the third time.

Relationship with the United States and Retirement

During Jean’s third term as Prime Minister, the relationship with the United States became a core issue. While Canada was doing well financially, their armed forces were not in a strong position due to heavy exports to the USA. When the US waged a war against Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, Canada provided support. However, Jean refused to send Canadian troops to support the US invasion of Iraq, causing a stir within the Liberal Party.

Tired of politics and blame games, Jean retired from the leader’s post of the Liberal Party in December 2003, paving the way for Paul Martin to become the Prime Minister. Despite his retirement, Jean remained involved in politics, speaking out against moves that didn’t align with the national interest.

Post-retirement, Jean worked with organizations such as the World Leadership Alliance and Foundation Chirac, focusing on global challenges and peace-building efforts.

Personal Life

Jean Chretien married Aline Chaine in September 1957, and they have three children together: France, Hubert, and Michel. France Chretien has become a successful lawyer.

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