Canada Politics

Happy 20th anniversary to Jean Chrétien’s first majority

Canada Politics

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Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien

Friday marked the 20th anniversary of day Jean Chrétien became prime minister of Canada for the first time.

On October 25, 1993, Chrétien's Liberals swept into office winning 177 seats and decimating the Kim Campbell Progressive Conservatives who were left with only two seats.

The little guy from Shawinigan" would go on to win two more majority governments (in 1997 and 2000) and stepped (or maybe pushed) aside in 2003 to make room for Paul Martin.

Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay marked the occasion in the House of Commons on Friday morning:

Mr. Speaker, today marks a momentous anniversary.

Twenty years ago today was the 1993 election that elected many of my colleagues, but which also elected the government of my great friend, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

I send my congratulations to Mr. Chrétien this day, but also to the person he always called his most trusted advisor, his wife Aline.

I appreciate the confidence the former prime minister showed in me and was honoured to serve in many roles, including minister of labour and solicitor general.

Together our team achieved much to be proud of: turning a $42 billion deficit into nine years of balanced budgets, team Canada trade missions, massive job creation, a UN land mines treaty, sustaining the CPP, the Clarity Act, and the list goes on.

I would also like to sincerely congratulate my colleagues in the House who are celebrating their 20th anniversary today.

We may have different views, but we are all here to make a better Canada.

Liberal insider and Sun News analyst Warren Kinsella — who was a Chretien staffer — is celebrating the anniversary on his website here.

In an email exchange with Yahoo Canada News, Kinsella lauded his old friend.

"He was three things," Kinsella says.

"One, the winningest Prime Minister of our lifetimes. Two, he balanced the books and kept Canada together - and out of Iraq. Three, he's the guy who could still be PM if he wanted to be - because all of his successors make him look so good!"

[ Related: 4 former prime ministers, 4 rebukes of Stephen Harper’s foreign policy ]

While in office, Chrétien had his share of scandals: Shawinigate, the sponsorship scandal and the APEC summit pepper spray incident to name a few.

But unlike other PMs — ie: Brian Mulroney — the scandals didn't seem to define Chrétien's time in power. Chrétien maintained a high approval rating even near the end of his term. More recently, in an online poll that asked Canadians to select the "best prime minister since", Chrétien finished third (behind Pierre Trudeau and Stephen Harper).

[ More Canadian Politics: Stephen Harper takes to the airwaves to defend Senate suspension motions ]

And he seems to have a earned a bit of a celebrity status in recent years.

Earlier this year, he got a lot of attention during the tenth anniversary coverage of his decision not to send Canadian troops to Iraq.

And the former PM, now aged 79, also gets 'props' for doing things like this:

And this:

October 25 was also the 20th anniversary the first election victory for a young MP from Calgary. His name is Stephen Harper.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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