Chretien says rise of Trump marks end of the American empire

Jean Chretien unleashes his unflattering opinion of Trump in a new book

Jean Chretien says Donald Trump is “unspeakable” and his rise to the U.S. presidency heralds the decline of the American empire.

Chretien unleashes that unflattering opinion of Trump in a new book of anecdotes from his 10 years as Canada’s prime minister.

Although it’s entitled “My Stories, My Times,” Chretien, who retired from politics in 2003 after winning three majority mandates, does not shy away from opining on current events — most notably on Trump.

In the preface, Chretien says writing the book over the past year helped him recover his serenity when he got ”tired of observing the surrealist vagaries of President Trump and of listening to his nonsense.”

RELATED: Trump mocks Kavanaugh accuser he had called credible witness

“It’s been very sad to observe the monumental error our neighbours to the south made in November 2016,” he writes in a later chapter, in which he recounts happy times he and his wife, Aline, have spent with former U.S. president Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, who was defeated by Trump.

“I fear that Hillary’s defeat, and the arrival of the fanatical Trump, mark the true end of the American Empire. You can understand why Aline and I are so happy to have the Clintons as friends, and almost as proud to be removed as far as possible from the unspeakable Donald Trump.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — aware that it doesn’t take much to set off the mercurial president, who is not above threatening to wreak economic “ruination” on Canada — has always been very guarded in speaking about Trump. But Chretien, now 84 and still active as a lawyer with Dentons, is not so constrained.

In an interview about his new book, Chretien elaborated on his view that the American empire is on the decline.

“You know, you see the emergence of the Chinese and the decline of America,” he told The Canadian Press.

“When I’m travelling the world, I feel that their influence is going down very rapidly.”

Chretien said the protectionist, America-first Trump administration is trying to break the international order “that has created prosperity around the world since the (1940s)” and is causing concern among traditional allies as the U.S. withdraws from the Iran denuclearization agreement, among other international pacts.

“If you want to be in isolation, that’s fine. But you have less influence.”

The rise and eventual fall of superpowers is natural and inevitable, Chretien added.

“You know, empires disappear. A lot of people are nostalgic about the British empire. A lot of people in France still dream of Napoleon; he’s dead since a long time. Life is like that.”

Chretien also weighed in on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The 14 months of tortuous negotiations and repeated threats by Trump to rip up NAFTA and impose ruinous auto tariffs on Canada turned out to be “a lot of talk for nothing,” he said.

“He changed the name and not much else,” Chretien said, adding that the NAFTA partners made “a little bit of an adjustment but basically we still have a free trade agreement with them that will work about the same way that it was working before.”

RELATED: Prime Minister pledges to ensure ‘thriving’ dairy industry post USMCA

In the book, Chretien says last year’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., “exposed to us the true face of Donald Trump.”

The rally was staged ostensibly to protest the removal of Confederate symbols but white nationalists and other far-right extremists chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans and carried guns and Nazi symbols. Violent clashes with counter-protesters erupted, leaving one woman dead.

Trump refused to explicitly denounce the white supremacists, choosing instead to condemn hatred and bigotry “on many sides” and claiming that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the clashes.

While Chretien writes that no country is immune to “backsliding where social values are concerned” and Canada must remain vigilant, he said in the interview that Canada has avoided the kind of polarization plaguing the U.S. because “we have much better institutions.”

For example, he pointed to the heavily politicized appointment process for judges in the U.S., where the recent confirmation of Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh became a circus amid accusations of sexual misconduct when he was a teenager. The judicial system in Canada has remained largely untouched by politicization.

“I never knew if the chief justice voted for me and I never asked her,” Chretien said, referring Beverley McLachlin whom he named chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2000. She retired last December.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tronson Road in Vernon closed next week

A portion of the road will be closed to traffic while crews upgrade water service utilities

Vernon Performing Arts Centre goes ahead with bursary program amid COVID-19

Vernon-area students urged to apply for three $1,000 bursaries to pursue education in performing arts

Vernon business restores faith in humanity for houseboat fire victims

Community kindness leaves out-of-province father in tears of appreciation

Roots & Blues announces ticket giveaway ahead of online festival

The festival is streaming free online this year, but those who pre-register can win passes for 2021.

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Mitchell’s Musings: Hockey’s comeback begins in earnest in August

Sports is back. Well, at least sports in a bubble is back.… Continue reading

Penticton man wakes to wildfire, forced to evacuate

A wildfire sparked off the side of Highway 97 near Penticton on Thursday

Anti-gang cops probe Kelowna’s street-level drug trade over B.C. Day long weekend

CFSEU’s Gang Enforcement Team was deployed to Kelowna last weekend

Man allegedly wielding knife at Kelowna Superstore arrested

The 29-year-old Kelowna man has been released on strict conditions for a future court date

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Most Read