Aline Chrétien

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Aline Chrétien
Aline Chretien.jpg
Chrétien at the 300th anniversary of Saint Petersburg celebrations on May 30, 2003.
Spouse of the Prime Minister of Canada
In office
November 4, 1993 – December 12, 2003
Preceded by Mila Mulroney
Succeeded by Sheila Martin
Personal details
Born Aline Chaîné
(1936-05-14) May 14, 1936 (age 81)
Saint-Boniface-de-Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Jean Chrétien (m. 1957)
Children 3 (including France Chrétien Desmarais)
Profession Secretary

Aline Chrétien (née Chaîné; May 14, 1936 in Saint-Boniface-de-Shawinigan, Quebec) is the wife of Canada's twentieth Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien.

She left school at age 16 and never attended university, but took correspondence courses while working as a secretary.[1]

She married lawyer Jean Chrétien on September 10, 1957. They have two sons, Hubert and Michel Chrétien, and one daughter France Chrétien Desmarais. After her husband was elected to Parliament, she taught herself English, Italian, and Spanish, and became fluent in those languages (including her native French).[1]

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 Commons in 1963. In addition to her keen interest in languages, Madame Chrétien took piano courses during her 50s, and has become an advocate for The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

On 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."[2] In 2000, Allan Fotheringham in the same magazine described Jean and Aline Chrétien as the two "most powerful" politicians in Canada, above Eddie Goldenberg and Jean Pelletier.[3]

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 Justice of 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.

In her role as the prime minister's spouse, she went to the memorial of the victim of the W. R. Myers High School shooting in 1999, along with Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, Opposition Leader Preston Manning, and the Attorney General of Canada Anne McLellan.[4]

In 2003, she was awarded her first honorary degree from Laurentian University.[5]

On September 22, 2010, she was named as first-ever chancellor of Laurentian University, a bilingual educational institution in Sudbury, Ontario.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Self-taught Aline Chretien brings passion for education to university post". The Record. September 24, 2010. Archived from the original on October 19, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ "The opinions the PM heeds," Maclean's, October 14, 1996, vol. 109, issue 42, p. 18-19.
  3. ^ Allan Fotheringham, "Aline, the power player," Maclean's, December 11, 2000, vol. 113, issue 50, p. 68.
  4. ^, "Canada grieves along with Taber," May 4, 1999, URL accessed December 19, 2006.
  5. ^ "Aline Chretien appointed chancellor of Laurentian University". September 22, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Aline Chrétien named first chancellor of Laurentian University". Toronto Star, September 22, 2010.