Aline Chrétien (born
May 14, 1936in Saint-Boniface-de-Shawinigan, Quebec) is the wife of Canada's twentieth Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien.
Born Aline Chaîné, she married lawyer Jean Chrétien on
September 10, 1957. They have two sons and one daughter:
France Chrétien Desmarais
Fluent in Italian, Spanish, English, and French, Aline Chrétien has been active in a number of charitable organizations over the years since her husband was first elected to the
Canadian House of Commonsin 1963. In addition to her keen interest in languages, Madame Chrétien took piano courses during her 50s, and has become an advocate for Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music.
November 5, 1995, an intruder, André Dallaire, broke into the Prime Minister's residence at 24 Sussex Drive, in Ottawa, Ontario. Awake next to her sleeping husband, Aline Chrétien confronted the intruder at their bedroom door. Seeing that he was armed with a large knife, she slammed the door and locked it, then woke her husband.
Her husband sought out her advice often. "
Maclean's" magazine in 1996 listed her first among his most influential advisors, saying "Never mind calling her the power behind the throne--she shares the seat of power." ["The opinions the PM heeds," "Maclean's", October 14, 1996, vol. 109, issue 42, p. 18-19.] In 2000, Allan Fotheringhamin the same magazine described Jean and Aline Chretien as the two "most powerful" politicians in Canada, above Eddie Goldenbergand Jean Pelletier. [Allan Fotheringham, "Aline, the power player," "Maclean's", December 11, 2000, vol. 113, issue 50, p. 68.]
Jean Chrétien has publicly stated that she is his key advisor. He once joked that Canada is run exclusively by women: the monarch, the Governor General and the
Chief Justiceof the Supreme Court were all women, and Madame Chrétien was pulling the strings of the Prime Minister. He made similar jokes often, once telling a reporter that he did not know when the next election would be because he had not yet asked Aline. The Prime Minister also joked about this when he met with U.S. President George W. Bushfor a border summit two days before the first ever America Remembers, meaning the first anniversary of 9/11.
In her role as the prime minister's spouse, she went to the memorial of the victim of the
W. R. Myers High School shootingin 1999, along with Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, Opposition Leader Preston Manning, and the Attorney General of Canada Anne McLellan. [CBC.ca, " [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/1999/05/03/taber_new990503.html Canada grieves along with Taber] ," May 4, 1999, URL accessed December 19, 2006.] She and her husband have also lauded Operation Yellow Ribbon, saying that it was one of the ways how Canada responded to 9/11.
Spouses of the Prime Ministers of Canada.
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