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Jean Chrétien left political life he 20 years ago

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Jean Chrétien was Prime Minister of Canada from 1993 to 2003.

  • Marie-Ève ​​Trudel (View profile)Marie-Ève ​​Trudel

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It was December 12, 2003. Jean Chrétien left his position as Prime Minister after more than a decade at the head of Canada. As he turns 90, the “little guy from Shawinigan” remembers the moment he left the political arena, thus honoring the promise he made to his wife.

I had promised my wife to leave before the age of 70, he relates with humor. I was 69 years, 11 months and 1 day!

20 years have passed since then. It's a bit of nostalgia, but it was time for me to leave, argues the trained lawyer, elected for the first time in 1963 at the age of 29 as a member of Parliament for Saint-Maurice.

When I became prime minister, I discussed with Aline [Chrétien] and we came to the conclusion that two terms would be enough. Except that in the year 2000, there were difficulties as we always have in politics and Aline said in front of a group of people: “Four more years. Four more years” so we decided that day to continue for a third term, but it was definitely the last.

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Jean Chrétien, then Canadian Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party, kisses his wife Aline in Shawinigan, November 27 2000.

We take the weight off our shoulders. I had served 10 years as prime minister. Another 20 years as minister. And three more years as leader of the opposition. Let's say that I was no longer hungry for politics at that time, he remembers.

Jean Chrétien in an interview at the broadcast Live

The tireless worker had the appeal of the private sector. He took the plunge. It is still there to this day.

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I'm still working. I'm coming from the office! I go to the office every day. I leave the house at 9am. […] I [will] only be 90 years old in a month… When I'm old, we'll stop!

A quote from Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada from 1993 to 2003

In the 1990s, Jean Chrétien and Lise Landry evolved in parallel political universes . Him at the federal level. She is at the municipal level.

The former mayor of Shawinigan remembers very well the moment when the politician, whose humanity she praises, humility and simplicity, decided to leave.

I had a call from someone close to him telling me: "Jean will announce very soon that he is retiring from political life". For me, at the time, it was a shock. I said to myself: "My God, this is the highest person to help us!" But Mr. Chrétien never withdrew from the obligations in which he had undertaken.

Lise Landry describes the ex-politician as a family man. Even while being Prime Minister of all Canadians from 1993 to 2003, Jean Chrétien did not forget his people, she explains. I think that for him, the residents of the greater Shawinigan region were a bit like his children, she illustrates. He took it to heart!

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Many political actors showed their support for Shawinigan and its mayor, Lise Landry, in the wake of the announcement of the closure of the Belgo factory.

Factory closures seriously affected Shawinigan at the turn of the century. He came to help us and encourage us, explains the ex-mayor in a tone of gratitude.

Every time there was a hard blow in Shawinigan, we saw Monsieur Chrétien arrive.

A quote from Lise Landry, mayor of Shawinigan from 1994 to 2001

Even though Jean Chrétien is described as a family man, he always refused to play the mother-in-law because you get frustrated, he explains.

Certainly, he keeps himself informed of political news, but still keeping a certain distance because sometimes, he would do things differently. I can't influence anything. I came out. So I prefer to turn the page. If they need my advice, they can call me, but that doesn't happen too often.

Jean Chrétien has always been visible in his native Mauricie, even though he was no longer elected. “I have great respect for this man. He could have retired, had a quiet life, but no,” relates Lise Landry.

Mr. Chrétien always responds.

A quote from Lise Landry, mayor of Shawinigan from 1994 to 2001

One ​​of the causes he embraced after his political career was the founding of the palliative care home in Shawinigan in 2014, which was named in honor of his late wife, his “rock of Gibraltar” as he often described her.

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Former Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien accompanied by his wife Aline Chrétien.

If today we have a palliative care home that bears the name Aline-Chrétien, it is because Mr. Chrétien helped me set up this home, relates Lise Landry, today president of the board of directors of the establishment.

He was involved throughout the process, frequently calling Lise Landry to inquire about developments.

Failure is not an option for the ex-politician, who shows unwavering optimism and contagious energy. He ensures that the file moves forward. "Will it work? It has to work!" When he gets involved in a cause, he wants it to work, she explains.

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Maison Aline-Chrétien offers palliative and end-of-life care in Shawinigan. (File photo)

The project remains to this day a source of great pride for the former prime minister, who did not miss the benefit event marking the establishment's founding anniversary last September. He shows the [Aline-Chrétien] House to I don’t know how many people from everywhere, exclaims the former mayor.

It’s a symbol, Mr. Chrétien, summarizes Lise Landry, concluding that the former prime minister, despite his venerable age, never really retired from public affairs in the end. The dynamism that characterizes it is immutable. All the people want to have it and Mr. Chrétien is coming. It still has the same size. It's still there.

Present and influential, recognizes the former mayor who adds with a laugh: “And he still has his good contacts! »

Jean Chrétien continues his activities in the private sector in Ottawa, but always with the sacred fire for the public. The little guy from Shawinigan is never far away.

When we look back, we cannot correct the mistakes of the past. So what we must do is build a future that is better for our children, our grandchildren and in my case, for my great-grandchildren.

A quote from Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada from 1993 to 2003

Even in his post-political career, Jean Chrétien strives to honor his commitments. To keep his word, as he demonstrated to his sweet Aline… one day in December 2003.

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