Chretien recounts visit to northern Cape Breton
Visit to Bay St. Lawrence said to be a highlight of his career
Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien recounted one of the most memorable moments in his political career during his keynote address at the March 20 Export NOW conference in Membertou.
It was the fall of 1981. Newly-elected Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau held a cabinet meeting at the Keltic Lodge in Ingonish. The next evening, Chretien accepted an invitation from Bay St. Lawrence community members to visit their northern village.
“It was the most interesting night I ever had. When I arrived there, it was a great reception, we met with the people and we had dinner. They served me illegal moose, they served me illegal lobsters, they served me illegal alcohol. Here I was the Minister of Justice,” Chretien recounted to a room full of laughter.
“It was during World Series. We were watching it. Suddenly, there was a terrible storm and no more electricity. [The game] was very contested, and we wanted to know what was to happen. Somebody reached out and came back with a radio battery. We found one station with the baseball game. It was a French radio program from the Magdalen Islands [QC]. So, for the rest of the evening, I translated the baseball game for the baseball fans there.”
During the keynote, Chretien credited Canadian statesman Allan J. Maceachen with encouraging him to visit the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The visit inspired Chretien to create Quebec’s first national park, La Mauricie National Park, in 1970 in his riding of Saint-maurice, QC.
Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien (left) responds to a question from Host Joella Foulds (right) during an on-stage conversation at the Export NOW conference held in Membertou on March 20. During the session, Chretien fondly recalled time stolen away...