Jean Chrétien Quotes

20th Prime Minister of Canada

Jean Chrétien

A Canadian lawyer and politician, Jean Chrétien was Canada's 20th prime minister from 1993 to 2003. Chrétien was born and raised in Shawinigan Falls, Quebec. He is a graduate of Université Laval with a law degree. Having been elected to the House of Commons for the first time in 1963, he is a Liberal. Under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, he held a number of cabinet positions, including minister of Indian affairs and northern development, president of the Treasury Board, minister of finance, and minister of justice.

4:30 mins video of Jean Chrétien


1. To my mind losing is always better than never trying, because you can never tell what may happen.

2. I don't know what is marijuana. Perhaps I will try it when it will no longer be criminal. I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand.

3. Most Canadians don't understand the House of Commons. They turn on their televisions, see us yelling at one another, and dismiss us as a bunch of fools.

4. There's no such thing as a genius in politics, or at least I have never met one. There are only human beings, some better than others, who rise or fall on the challenges they meet.

5. Pierre Trudeau dreamed of a society that afforded all of its citizens an equal opportunity to succeed in life -- whatever their background or beliefs, whether rich or poor.

6. At one point Trudeau mentioned to me that the National Gallery wanted to buy a masterpiece by the great Italian painter Lotto, and it needed a million dollars from the Treasury Board. "Is that Lotto-Quebec or Lotto-Canada?" I joked, but I got the message, and the National Gallery got the painting.

7. A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It's a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it's because it's proven.

8. To be frank, politics is about wanting power, getting it, exercising it, and keeping it.

9. Our old - fashioned system is better than any new - fangled voting machine. Not only is it guaranteed to work, but there is something I find appealing in putting a mark on a piece of paper for the candidate of your choice, as opposed to pulling a lever as if you were gambling on a slot machine in Las Vegas.

10. When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans.

11. I learned early that business is business and politics is politics. The proof is how few important businessmen have made good politicians. They may think that they are very smart about everything because they made millions of dollars by digging a hole in the ground and finding oil, but the talent and luck needed to become rich are not the same talent and luck needed to succeed on Parliament Hill.

12. It is not the government's purpose to make a profit the way a company does, because a company doesn't have to give a damn about the unemployed poor or provide services that are non-commercial by definition.

13. I've never believed in seeking perfection at the risk of losing everything.

14. Vision is not political rhetoric.