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Posts Tagged ‘Jean Chrétien’

ChretienIt helps to have thick skin if you’re contemplating serving as Prime Minister of Canada. One only has to look at the many books about recent leaders that take a negative — even hostile — stance. In fact, in the past 50 years the number of diatribes about PMs has kept pace with the number of dispassionate biographies.

Here’s a sampling:

  • His Pride, Our Fall: Recovering from the Trudeau Revolution 
  • Breaking Faith: The Mulroney Legacy of Deceit, Destruction and Disunity
  • Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal
  • Paul Martin: CEO for Canada?
  • Rogue in Power: Why Stephen Harper is Remaking Canada by Stealth
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CampbellSix Prime Ministers did not use their first given names. They were Henry (Wilfrid) Laurier, Joseph (Pierre) Trudeau, Charles (Joe) Clark, Martin (Brian) Mulroney, Avril (Kim) Clark and Joseph (Jean) Chrétien.

William King preferred his third name Mackenzie, while Lester Pearson was more comfortable with the nickname Mike.

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ChretienIn 1888, Sir John A. Macdonald appointed 33-year-old Charles Hibbert Tupper to be his Minister of Marine & Fisheries. Tupper, the son of Sir Charles Tupper, became the country’s youngest cabinet member, a record that remained his throughout Canada’s first century.

In 1967, another 33-year-old (although a few months older), joined cabinet. Lester Pearson appointed Jean Chrétien to be a Minister Without Portfolio.

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feb102005: Paul Martin appears before the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities that occurred during the period of Jean Chrétien‘s government. He set up the commission the year before, appointing Justice John Gomery as its chair.

Martin becomes the first sitting Prime Minister to appear publicly before a Royal Commission. Two days earlier, his predecessor Chrétien testified at the hearings.

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Sir Charles Tupper can boast to having the longest marriage of any Canadian Prime Minister. He was already married for 48 years when he became the head of government and ended up being together with Frances Morse for 66 years. The second longest marriage is that of Jean Chrétien and Aline Chainé, married for 53 years and counting. Aline recently became chancellor of Laurentian University.

The record for the shortest marriage goes to Kim Campbell, married to Howard Eddy for seven years. And the second briefest coupling? Kim Campbell again, to her first husband Nathan Divinsky, for 11 years.

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A growing number of people are aware that January 11 is Sir John A. Macdonald‘s birthday. The government has declared the date to be Sir John A. Macdonald Day. The celebration of his birthday gets bigger every year in his Canadian hometown: Kingston. Canada’s first Prime Minister was born in 1815 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Less well known is the fact that Jean Chrétien shares the same birthday. The 20th Prime Minister was born January 11, 1934, in Shawinigan, Quebec.

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There have been eight.

Since the creation of the Order of Canada on July 1, 1967, only two former Prime Ministers have not received it. John Diefenbaker was still an MP at the time of his death in 1979; sitting politicians are ineligible for the honour. Paul Martin stepped down as an MP in 2008; presumably he’ll receive the recognition in the next few years. His father was made a Companion of the Order in 1976.

For the record, PM Companions have been Louis St. Laurent, Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell and Jean Chretien.

Interesting side note: Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party and a sitting politician, belongs to the Order. She received the honour before entering politics.

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