Jean Chrétien

Portrait of Jean Chrétien

2nd Prime Minister of Canada
April 10 1994 - November 10, 1996

Predecessor Brian Mulroney
Successor David Collenette
Deputy Prime Minister David Collenette

Chairman of the Cabinet-in-exile of Canada
March 1, 1982 - June 1989

Predecessor Gilles Rocheleau
Successor position abolished

Leader of the Official Opposition
June 1989 - April 10 1994

Predecessor position established
Successor Lucien Bouchard
Born 1934
Spouse Aline Chrétien
Political Party Liberal
Profession Lawyer, politician

Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien (born January 11, 1934) is a retired Canadian politician and statesman who served as Prime Minister of Canada from April of 1994 until his resignation in November of 1995. He led the centrist Liberal Party from its legalisation in 1988 until his resignation, giving him eight years as leader of the Liberal Party. Before his leadership of the Liberal Party, he served as the Chairman of the Canadian Cabinet-in-exile, which was officially dissolved in 1989 with the free elections held that year. He served as Chairman from 1982 until its dissolution, succeeding Gilles Rocheleau. Both he and Rocheleau were referred to as the "Young Franks" due to their Quebecois heritage and dominance over the government in exile in its latter years. He was at one time a Deputy Minister of Justice under the Trudeau government until his resignation and exile in 1977 in the fallout after the Vancouver Crisis.

Though a national hero upon his return, Chrétien became boggled down in a 1991 leadership challenge by Paul Martin and disagreements within his Québec-reliant caucus over the Quebec independence referendum. Chrétien managed to stave off the pro-referendum Martin in an omen for the general election three years later - with the coalition of center-right and right-wing parties running Canada in the early 1990s divided by the independence question, "revanchism" against former Communist officials and economic policy, Chrétien led the Liberals to win a weak majority government in 1994 with himself as Prime Minister, and in order to build support they added the right-wing Reform Party to their coalition to present a united front against the Bloc Quebecois and sovereigntist movement. Nevertheless, despite intense campaigning by Chrétien, Quebec voted in favor of independence and Chrétien, now without a seat in Parliament, announced he would resign effective immediately in order to avoid a Constitutional crisis. At shy of two years in office, he was the shortest-serving Prime Minister since the fall of Communism in Canada. He was succeeded both as Prime Minister and as Leader of the Liberal Party by David M. Collenette, the Deputy Prime Minister.