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VIDEO: Former prime minister Jean Chrétien rallies supporters in Yarmouth during quick West Nova campaign visit


YARMOUTH, N.S. —

With only a few days to go before the federal election, former prime minister Jean Chrétien made a brief visit to Yarmouth the evening of Oct. 18, telling Liberal supporters what there isn’t enough of in this world is countries like Canada.

Chrétien attended a campaign rally event for West Nova Liberal candidate Jason Deveau in Yarmouth, ahead of the Oct. 21 federal vote. He was introduced by Deveau as a champion of bilingualism and multiculturalism.

“He has always believed that strength in our country’s unity was based on its diversity,” Deveau said. “It’s great that he was able to join us in Yarmouth tonight to help us get across the finish line.”

Chrétien said he hasn’t been campaigning a great deal for the party during this election – saying to the Tri-County Vanguard, laughing, “I’m not a kid anymore,” he's 85 – but he told supporters that when he’s asked too it is difficult to say no.
“I would not like to see the Trump mentality to come to the north (in) Canada. I’m not interested at all,” he said, adding he’s also not interested in seeing Andrew Sheer form a government.

“I think we have to maintain our reputation,” he said further on in his remarks. “The problem in the world is there are not enough countries like us, where we have learned to live with two official languages, to welcome people as immigrants in reasonable numbers . . . What is needed in this world is the ability to live together. To share. To be generous. To be tolerant.”

There are five candidates running in the West Nova riding. Aside from Deveau for the Liberals the other candidates are Chris d’Entremont (Conservatives), Matthew Dubois (NDP), Judy N Green, (Green Party) and Gloria Jane Cook (Veterans Coalition Party of Canada).

Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien attended a West Nova Liberal rally in Yarmouth on Oct. 18. He flew to Yarmouth after a campaign visit earlier in the day in New Brunswick.TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien attended a West Nova Liberal rally in Yarmouth on Oct. 18. He flew to Yarmouth after a campaign visit earlier in the day in New Brunswick.TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Chrétien’s trip to Yarmouth was a short one, lasting less than an hour and a half. He said he was happy to be in southwestern Nova Scotia, telling the crowd, “Some years ago I received a doctorate from Université Ste-Anne and I was very, very proud.”

Chrétien flew to Yarmouth Friday evening after spending part of the day in New Brunswick in the riding of Beauséjour, where he had served three years as that riding’s MP. After winning the Liberal leadership in 1990 Chrétien needed a seat in the House of Commons and had won a by-election in that bilingual New Brunswick riding.

“And I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here, but here I am. At my age I should be doing something else,” joked Chrétien. He said the first time he was elected president of the Liberal club at Laval University, the majority of the people in the room were not even born. “It was in 1956, and I’m still around preaching for the Liberal Party.”

Chrétien was elected Canada’s 20th Prime Minister on Nov. 4, 1993. It was his first of three majority Liberal governments. He served as prime minister until Dec. 12, 2003.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien attended a West Nova Liberal rally in Yarmouth on Oct. 18. Chrétien shares a laugh with Yamouth resident Geoff McGray who showed the former prime minister a photo dating back to Chrétien's 1993 federal election campaign. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien attended a West Nova Liberal rally in Yarmouth on Oct. 18. Chrétien shares a laugh with Yamouth resident Geoff McGray who showed the former prime minister a photo dating back to Chrétien's 1993 federal election campaign. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

This federal election in 2019 has been a close one, with the polls putting support for the Liberals and Conservatives at nearly the same, which has led to ongoing speculation about a minority government for Canadians.

When asked about that scenario, and his thought about a coalition government should the Liberals win, Chrétien said the Liberal party will deal with the hand it is dealt with by the voters. If it is a minority government, he said, “Then we’ll have a good minority government. There is nothing you can do about it. You have it or not. I’ve been with four minority governments in my life, two under Lester Pearson and two under Pierre Trudeau, it’s not that bad. But it’s better to have a majority. I had three of them.”

There has also been a lot of discussion about the tone of this federal election, and what many point to as the nastiness of it. Chrétien doesn’t see it as different from other elections.

“It’s always nasty. I’ve been around for 40 years and when it’s over we forget about it,” he said. “There’s always some people who go a little bit overboard.”

Asked what he wants voters to think most about when they are filling out their ballots, Chrétien said, “To persevere the Canadian values – generosity, trust, sharing, acceptance of diversity and so on.”

Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien attended a West Nova Liberal rally at Sip Café in Yarmouth on Oct. 18. He's pictured here with former West Nova MPs Colin Fraser and Robert Thibault and with the candidate in this election, Jason Deveau. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien attended a West Nova Liberal rally at Sip Café in Yarmouth on Oct. 18. He's pictured here with former West Nova MPs Colin Fraser and Robert Thibault and with the candidate in this election, Jason Deveau. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Deveau, the West Nova Liberal candidate, was happy to have Chrétien make a visit to Yarmouth.

“It certainly means a lot to have former Prime Minister Chrétien’s support here in West Nova,” he said. Asked the same question that Chrétien was – what he wants voters to think about as they’re marking their ballots – Deveau said, “Certainly I want them to think about what kind of Canada they want to see. What future they want for their children and grandkids, and I really do think we’re at a crossroads with this election.”

Deveau said he feels this election is a choice between moving forward with the plan the Liberals have been implementing, or returning to an era of cuts in some of the services that Canadians depend on.

Chrétien, meanwhile, ended his comments in Yarmouth noting there are millions of people around the globe who would give everything they have to live in a country like Canada.

“Canada is a great country, but we shouldn’t be complacent about it. I will tell you as I always said all of my public life, there is nothing better than Canada. Vive le Canada. Merci beaucoup.”

Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien attended a West Nova Liberal rally in Yarmouth on Oct. 18. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien attended a West Nova Liberal rally in Yarmouth on Oct. 18. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

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