TORONTO — Aline Chretien, the wife and trusted partner of former prime minister Jean Chretien, is being remembered as a tenacious and devoted partner, one who played a quiet yet influential role in Canadian politics.
Chretien, 84, died peacefully Saturday morning surrounded by family at her home in Shawinigan, Que., a family spokesperson said Sunday. A cause of death was not specified.
Condolences poured in following the announcement of her death, shedding light on her influential role as the former prime minister’s confidant, one who was instrumental in many of her husband’s political decisions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described her as “a strong mother, and a devoted wife for over 60 years, who tirelessly supported one of Canada’s longest serving prime ministers during some of the country’s most pivotal moments.
“We owe a great debt to Aline, who faithfully served Quebecers and all Canadians, championed multiculturalism and bilingualism, and helped bring us closer together,” Trudeau said. “Authentic and honest, she taught us the importance of persevering, even when things get tough.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and Quebec Premier Francois Legault also offered their condolences on Twitter.
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, a former astronaut, paid tribute to Chretien by sharing a photo of the prime minister’s wife at her first launch into space
“A woman of heart, attentive and generous. My most sincere condolences to her family,” she wrote.
Aline was instrumental in all her husband’s major political decisions, also letting him know when she thought he was moving too aggressively.
“This is such a great loss. Aline was a wonderful gracious lady, and a very smart advisor about politics and life,” former public safety minister Ralph Goodale tweeted.
“She and Mr. Chretien were devoted to each other. We will all miss her deeply, but him most of all.”
Former prime minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen Harper also offered their condolences, noting the couple’s unwavering bond.
“Laureen and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Aline Chrétien. We will always remember her kind nature and unwavering devotion to her beloved husband Jean and their family. We join our fellow Canadians in thanking Aline for her lifelong service to our country,” Harper wrote.
Former Ontario premier and current UN ambassador Bob Rae said Chretien would be missed for her “gentle dignity, kindness, and generosity of spirit.”
“We have had the pleasure of knowing Aline Chretien for over 50 years, and her gentle dignity, kindness, and generosity of spirit will stay with us forever,” he wrote.
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