Former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien was seen shaking hands with Liberal supporters at Stephen Fuhr’s candidate office in Kelowna on Friday. (Alistairs Waters)

Jean Chretien in Kelowna Friday to support Liberal candidates

Former prime minister is in the Okanagan today to support local Liberal candidates

Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal candidate Stephen Fuhr will get a boost from one of his party’s most popular figures Friday—former party leader and former prime minister Jean Chretien.

Chretien, in Kelowna for the Level Up conference, will make an appearance at Fuhr’s campaign office on Bernard Avenue Friday morning at 10 a.m.

Chretien served as the country’s 20th prime minister from 1993 to 2003 and before that held top positions in previous Liberal governments, including as minister of justice under current Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s father Pierre Trudeau. He also served as minister of finance and minister of Indian and Northern Affairs.

He was the chief negotiator for what became known as the “Kitchen Accord,” an agreement among nine provinces—not Quebec—that resulted in Canada creating its constitution in 1982 and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

He became the leader of the Liberal Party in 1990 and lead the party to three straight majority governments, in 1993, 1997 and 2000. He was succeeded by his finance minister Paul Martin as leader of the party and and internal party power struggle and what has become known as the “Sponsorship Scandal.”.

Born and raised in Shawinigan, Quebec, which Chretien represented as an MP, he was opposed to Quebec sovereignty and lead the federalist side in the 1995 Quebec referendum, which saw the No side win by a razor-thin majority of 50.58 per cent, thus keeping the province part of Canada.

Chretien is no stranger to the Okanagan, having visited often during his years as an MP, prime minister and after he left politics. An avid golfer, he played golf here and being close friends with local businessman and winery proprietor Ross Fitzpatrick, who he appointed as Canadian Senate in 1998. Fitzpatrick retired from the Senate in 2008.

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