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Jean Chrétien

Honorary Doctorate


Jean Chrétien

PC, OM, CC, QC

Honorary Doctor of Laws

Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien is one of Canada’s most successful political leaders, serving as our 20th Prime Minister from 1993 to 2003. Born and raised in Quebec, the 18th of 19 children (ten of whom did not survive infancy), Chrétien proudly wore his humble origins as “the little guy from Shawinigan”.

A law graduate from Université Laval, he was first elected to the House of Commons in 1963 and served in various cabinet posts under prime ministers Pearson and Trudeau, most notably as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Minister of Justice – where he negotiated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — and Minister of Finance.

In 1990, Jean Chrétien became leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and led the party to majority governments in 1993, 1997 and 2000.

Mr. Chrétien lived and governed through changing times: most notably the rise of the separatist movement in Quebec, and fought and won two referenda.  He pioneered the Clarity Act of 1999 to avoid ambiguity in future referendum questions. Despite the difficult economic times of the 1990s Mr. Chrétien balanced the Government’s books and laid a solid economic foundation from which the country still benefits today. His vision was one of fiscal responsibility merged with social awareness.

Regional rivalries and ethnic and linguistic tensions make national governance a complicated art.

Chrétien balanced these realities and remained a staunch champion of bilingualism and multiculturalism. He has believed in a strong, and as much as possible, generous federal government; he celebrates Canada’s bi-cultural — and with the inclusion of First Nations, its tri-cultural — identity.  He always believed the strength of our country’s unity was in based on its diversity.

Abroad he has encouraged Canada to provide leadership in a progressive, internationalist understanding of our global obligations — actively supporting Canada’s pivotal role in developing the concept of human security and the Ottawa Treaty, a landmark global treaty banning anti-personnel landmines.

Jean Chrétien represents the best of Canadian values: patriotism, tolerance, open-heartedness, humor and progressiveness. For his deep loyalty and dedicated service to Canada, The University of Winnipeg is honoured to present Jean Chrétien with an Honorary Doctor of Laws.