Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien remembers “great servant of Canada” Brian Mulroney

Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien remembers his former political rival, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, as a loving family man and a formidable opponent who “did his best” and “served the country well.”

Mulroney, who was Canada’s 18th prime minister from 1984 to 1993, died Thursday at age 84.

“He worked hard, had a good life, a great family, a lovely wife and beautiful children,” Chretien told CTV Question Period host Vassy Kapelos in an interview broadcast Sunday.

“He was a great servant of Canada and it is time to pay tribute to his tenure as prime minister,” Chrétien added.

Mulroney and Chrétien spent years on opposite sides of the aisle, first while Chrétien was a member of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s cabinet and Mulroney was the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, and later, when Chrétien became Liberal leader in recent years. three years into Mulroney’s tenure in office.

In 1993, Mulroney said she would resign as soon as her party chose a successor, which it did, making Kim Campbell Canada’s first female prime minister. During the federal election that same year, the Liberals won a landslide government, decimating the Progressive Conservative Party.

“Of course, I was his opponent for many, many years and on many different files,” Chrétien said. “We had different points of view on how to approach a problem, but we both believed that we needed a good, united Canada, we needed a tolerant, bilingual, welcoming and sharing country.”


This transcript of Chrétien’s interview with Vassy Kapelos for Sunday’s episode of CTV’s Question Period has been edited for length and clarity.


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Vassy Kapelos: Hello, Mr. Chrétien. Good to see you. I wish it were under different circumstances.

Jean Chrétien: “Me too.”


Kapelos: I heard you say, when you heard about Mr. Mulroney’s death, that it was better to participate than not participate. That was something you thought about his time in politics. Why did you say that?

Chrétien: “Because he was a Canadian citizen from Baie-Comeau, who from a very young age became involved in political parties. He was very involved in the organization of the Conservative Party throughout Canada and in Quebec. He was not elected for a long, long time. .. He became prime minister under two majority governments and, you know, he served the country well and did the best he could.

“Of course, I was his opponent for many, many years and on many different files. We had different views on how to approach an issue, but we both believed that we needed a good united Canada, we needed a country that was tolerant, that was bilingual, cozy and shared.

“And you know, he served, he left and I came.”

“But, you know, he worked hard, he had a good life, a great family, a lovely wife and beautiful children. You know, he was a great servant of Canada, and it’s time to pay tribute to his tenure as prime minister.”


Kapelos: You mentioned that you were on opposite sides of a number of issues, and many Canadians watching now will be familiar with that. As was? What were they like with each other personally?

Chrétien: “It was, you know, politics is when you’re in the House of Commons, the people on the other side of the aisle are your opponents. You know, they’re not your enemies. And we don’t agree, we fight, but we can accept disagreement We can agree to disagree, sometimes we can not be very happy, sometimes attack and other times defensive.

“It’s like playing hockey, sometimes you get tackled and sometimes you tackle someone else. And when the game’s over, the game’s over. And we start tomorrow, the next game.”


Kapelos: Now everyone is talking about what his legacy will be. What was your mark on this country? What do you think it was?

Chrétien: “It was controversial, and we all tend to be controversial, otherwise we’re pretty boring. I didn’t agree with some of his approaches. The unity of Canada… and all that jazz. It was an issue that was debated, about which we had a referendum on this constitutional debate. But, in the national referendum on separation, we were…both…on the no side and we fought together to keep Canada united.”


Kapelos: In later years you also provided advice to many politicians of different political persuasions. He wasn’t just talking to conservatives. We’ve talked about this before, Mr. Chrétien, do you think there’s still a lot of that going on and what do you think of him doing that?

Chrétien: I do the same.


Kapelos: Yes.

Chrétien: “I talk to people from other political parties, maybe I’m not looking for the headline, that’s a different problem. But I’ve talked to, you know… I talked to some people on the opposite side. Even some people who became Conservative Party leaders came to consult me ​​before running and it’s a pleasure when you have experience and can share it with people, you should do it.

“For me I did it in a different, calmer way, because it’s my way.”


Kapelos: It certainly is, but I think they both definitely share their wisdom. You also share your wisdom with people who are currently in politics. And I wonder why you think that’s important.

Chrétien: And I tend to do it from time to time.


Kapelos: That’s true.

Chrétien: You want to use me but I also use you.


Kapelos: I think they both considered it very important. To continue giving advice when they asked you for it.

“Because it’s normal. You know, politics is an art. It’s not a science, and you have to share your experience. You don’t learn experience in the book. You don’t learn how to play hockey in college. It’s on the ice, and it’s the same in politics. So, if people need some advice, you give it to them, because when it is in the interest of the country. If it is advice to defeat the leader of your party, No way, but help the country? Yes “


Kapelos: You and Mr. Mulroney are some of the few people who have led this country and served as prime minister. Is there any connection between you because of that?

“Of course, you know, it is not the club that is very large and you know, on many, many occasions we had the opportunity to meet and exchange points of view at different ceremonies, funerals, etc.

“We remain very civil with each other.”


Kapelos: Mr. Chretien, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today. I apreciate it. Thank you.

It’s a pleasure to be with you again. Good night.

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