My Stories, My Times

A memoir about former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

Jean Chrétien, translated by Sheila Fischman & Donald Winkler

October 2018 marks 25 years since Jean Chrétien took the helm as prime minister. In this collection of short essays, he has picked up his pen to reminisce about his long years in the public eye, and the many luminaries he met and worked with.

Readers will learn why his commonsense judgment continues to influence our lives to this day, in ways both profound and subtle: from forging long-lasting relationships with foreign countries to making it easy to identify our national airline when we travel. He recalls a memorable trip with the royal family to the Northwest Territories in 1970, and how Ross Perot tried to influence his views on free trade in 1992. Of course, many familiar names figure in these stories, including George W. Bush, Boris Yeltsin, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Pierre Trudeau, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

There are reflections on the many different posts over Chrétien's career, including becoming Canada's first-ever francophone finance minister. He pays tribute to old friends and colleagues, where the values of honour and dedication to public service transcend political views. He reserves his greatest admiration for his wife of more than 60 years, Aline, whom he calls his Rock of Gibraltar.

These stories offer his unique perspective: we are at the Prime Minister's side on 9/11 when he is asked to give authorization to shoot down a passenger airliner that has not responded to identification requests. We learn how he attempted to correct the record as explained in his grandson's history book on the so-called "Night of the Long Knives." (Despite having special access to an eyewitness to history, his grandson got a failing grade on his paper.) There are even glimpses of the young Jean, as a teen canvassing with his father, and as a young man who dared complain personally to Premier Maurice Duplessis about the food at his seminary. (From Random House Canada)

From the book

We live at a time when the fate of our liberal democratic system is being intensely questioned, autocracies appear to be on the march, and too many people speak despairingly and cynically about the ability of the democratic countries to provide good government for their citizens.

I spent 50 years of my life working in politics as a member of Parliament, a minister, leader of the opposition, and prime minister. Throughout that period I developed a profound faith in the merits of our Canadian democracy.

From My Stories, My Times by Jean Chrétien ©2018. Published by Random House Canada.

More about Jean Chrétien

Jean Chrétien talks to The National's Rosemary Barton

4 years ago
Duration 10:11
The former prime minister weighs in on several news issues - many of which he tackled during his own career - ahead of the release of his book, My Stories, My Times.

The political up-and-comer

3 years ago
Duration 14:53
A young Jean Chrétien is touted as the one to watch.