The Wisdom of Jean Chretien

January 30, 2008

I just had the opportunity to see Jean Chretien speak here at St. FX.  I have to be honest, he has what’s missing from Canadian politics these days: Charisma.  He spoke with deftness and humour about his time, not just as Prime Minister, but also in various cabinet positions and as a junior MP.  Though I probably never would have voted for him I can’t help but like him.

Here are some of the things he said tonight that I thought were great.

On Quebec:
When you have equality you can’t have special status.

On the arts:
Artists vote for the Bloc in Quebec and the NDP in Ontario.  Investing in the arts was not a great investment for me, but it was the right thing to do.

On his longevity in politics:
My trick was undersell and overperform.

On Africa:
Africa doesn’t need charity it needs investment and access to markets.
We don’t pay enough attention to Africa.  If we pay more attention to Africa, Africa will have to pay more attention to what it does

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