The instant friendship between our dear Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama during their all-too-brief time in power together was pretty much the cutest Canada-U.S. relations have ever looked. Thank goodness they still hang out even though Obama isn’t president anymore. These two weren’t the first President-P.M. bromance though. Before Trubama, there was Clintien (that couple name works better than we thought it would).
This week, former President Bill Clinton visited Montreal to speak with former Prime Minister Jean Chretien in a public conversation about a variety of topics including gun control, NAFTA, Canada-U.S. relations and Canadian federalism. Clinton’s visit was a stop-over on his way to Toronto to receive an honorary doctorate from St. Francis Xavier University. The two world leaders also talked about their personal and professional relationship which helped with trust between the two countries. Clinton harkened back to the time he and Chretien spent in office together as a golden age of trust between our nations.
‘It’s important not to forget that one of the reasons the world is so polarized today is that we don’t see each other as people and… start out with a presumption of mistrust,’ he told the crowd, ‘I didn’t feel that with [Chretien]. I spent 20 minutes with him and I realized I could trust him. And I never needed anything written down, if he said it was going to be ‘X,’ we shook hands and I knew it would be ‘X.”
‘The first time we met in Seattle, I was the new Prime Minister and I sat next to you and I surprised you a lot,’ Chretien recalled, ‘I said, ‘President, I don’t want to be too close to you because if I’m too close to you, they’ll think I’m the fifty-first state of America. But if I look independent from you I can do things for you that the C.I.A. can’t do.’
‘We were good friends,’ Chretien continued, ‘We played golf… We had very few problems. We had problems, everybody has problems, but we tried to solve them. And we’d talk about it. And you had to make concessions and I had to make concessions, but we had in mind what was best for our countries and trust is everything. We didn’t try to score political points. I didn’t want to take advantage of my friendship.’
Clinton and Chretien were in office together for almost eight years over the period of 1993 to 2001 and during that time, they were pretty good friends. Let’s take some time to appreciate just how cute this Canada-U.S. friendship was back in the day.
They played a lot of golf. And we mean a lot of golf.
They did some adorable twinning at press conferences too. That synchronized point is on point. And yes, those are matching shirts and jackets. Is this a match made in heaven or what?
Even their wives are friends. Here’s Hillary Clinton and Aline Chretien hanging out at a conference.
Yeah, that’s the 90’s North America power team. Before there was Barack/Michelle/Justin/Sophie, there was Bill/Hillary/Jean/Aline.