07.03.2015 09:30 AM

The delicate dears at HuffPo are offended

By this: 

HuffPo doesn’t like what my former boss did. Poor babies. 

The above image, from February 1996, is of one Jean Chretien throttling a protester, natch, who had gotten too close at a Flag Day celebration. 

When that image – the fabled Shawinigan Handshake – started to circulate, the tall foreheads in the press gallery (and, much later, HuffPo) started to write Chretien’s political obituary. Former Conservative leader Joe Clark demanded Chretien apologize, as I recall, and Reform Party MPs denounced him. The crypto-separatist media attacked him, too, and Amnesty International even condemned him. I’m not making this up. 

So Chretien called an aide to ask what pollsters had to say about the effect the Shawinigan Handshake had on public opinion. “We won’t tell you,” the aide told Chretien. “We’re worried that, when you see how positive the effect was, you’ll go out and strangle someone else.”

What do you think, Dear Reader? I think it was awesome.  You?


  1. VC says:

    It was definitely awesome. Only 3 months earlier, when that guy broke into 24 Sussex in the middle of the night, Chretien was also ready to strike. Thus, this idiot should have known that Chretien is always on his toes.

  2. Stephen says:

    Sure as hell do.

  3. Brad says:

    Great stuff, Steve could never pull that off, even with his Canada coat on.

  4. Harvey Bushell says:

    I remember when that happened. It didn’t really have that much of an impact on how I felt about Chretien at that time (well, none actually). I liked him and I still do.

    It does make me wonder what he would have done if he were PM during the recent terrorist attack on parliament hill. I strongly suspect he would not have hidden, cowering in a closet leaving his fellow members of parliament and staff to their own fate at the hands of the gunman.

  5. doconnor says:

    They had to have a token Liberal and NDP image among all those Conservatives.

  6. G. McRae says:

    I shared a house with 5 other people when going to university. As one can imagine, there were a diverse set of opinions. This was the only thing we all could agree on and we thought it was awesome. We put this on our fridge door (nothing else on it) and and I never heard any of our guests say anything negative about it.

  7. Mark says:

    Here’s how popular this remains. I sometimes am able to find, in specialty liquor stores, “Shawinigan Handshake” beer. Love it.

  8. Ridiculosity says:

    Totally awesome. Reminded Canadians that their PM had balls – which should be mandatory if you’re going to lead a country this complex.

  9. Sherry Bellamy says:

    Is there a link to this HuffPo article? A cursory search for “HuffPo and Jean Chretien” resulted in many articles…..non of which leaned towards “condemnation”. In fact HuffPo seems to be rather fond of Mr. Chretien.

    I was unable to find the condemnation article, never mind a political obituary.

  10. gyor says:

    Shawigan Handshake doesn’t matter to me, on the other hand the massive cuts to the social safety net, Healthcare, and Education from that era, 40% !, are a huge reason why I will never vote liberal, no matter what they promise.

  11. ABlanas says:

    That HuffPo list of historic moments is 100% on-target. Very nice, brings back memories.

    The only after-effects of JC’s throttling of a protester was to again illustrate the embarrassing lapse of security disciplines by RCMP. Like, how many times have RCMP fallen down on the job with respect to various prime ministers?

  12. eric weiss says:

    I don’t blame Cretien for doing it, it was a split moment decision, and in his position it was probably hard to know what the protestor’s intent was. Awesome? Hardly. It was an unfortunate event. Nobody should be able to get close enough to a political figure to make them feel unsafe, and nobody should get assaulted for non-violent protest.

    And admit it, all you partisans would be screaming bloody murder if one of your political opponents did it.

  13. Adam says:

    I think given the number of people (Conservatives included) who, when they see Mr. Chretien on the street, ask for a Shawinigan Handshake photo op, the jury has reached a decision.

  14. Rich says:

    Breaking- Harper to throttle Mulcair in 5…4….3….

  15. King Prick says:

    When it first happened, I wasn’t a Chretien fan, so I thought it was stupid and that he was an ass. Years later, after watching him steer the country and create some of the best years we’ve ever had (in my lifetime) as a nation, I love it!

    Look, whether you hate him or not, read his memoirs. The man, as much as I disliked him on the day he was elected, is the personification of what a Canadian leader should be. As was Trudeau. If you didn’t like them, they didn’t care. If you wanted to fight ’em; they’d be just as willing to throw hands as to destroy you with their superior intellect. There’s no one left like that in Ottawa. I see namby, pamby, milquetoast, politicians with big mouths but no guts and sense of what glory is supposed to be. Maybe with Gilles Duceppe (a man that, I believe to be one of the finest politicians to ever grace parliament,) we’ll get back to some intellect, issues and Shawinigan handshaking. God knows we could use it. Maybe he can start by strangling the guilty one, Dean DelMastro, followed by Mike (my expenses are up to date) Duffy, Pamela (my expenses are legitimate, I swear) Wallin, Don (I did not have sexual relations with that woman–somebody already said that) Merideth, Patrick (watch me beat up my wife with this can of Quaker State) Brazeau, Helena (I didn’t do anything wrong but my husband got busted with cocaine while boasting about his connections to Mr. Harper) Guergis… I could go on. I mean, The Red Chamber is full of whine and camembert to strangle the life out of. So, would somebody please…

  16. Matt says:

    Isn’t the dipshit that Chretien ragdolled now leading the charge to get the feds to hand over the Quebec portion of the long gun registry data in court?

  17. Ted H says:

    What can I say, I loved Chretien, I was proud of Canada when he was PM. Until this current bunch of shysters is out of power along with the Stepford PM, I refuse to fly a flag on Canada Day, I am not proud of the country while they are there infesting the government.

  18. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    The man has courage. Bet even in his 80s, Chrétien would do it again, if necessary.

    As for the closet, it’s my understanding that the RCMP put Harper there. A PM’s life is more important than anything else.

    • smelter rat says:

      FFS. We were doing just fine before he wandered onto the public stage, and we’ll do even better when he’s gone. His life is no more important than mine or yours.

  19. Mike says:

    You said Flag Day, right?

  20. JH says:

    Who gives a feck about huffpo anyway? It’s an American website, founded by an ultra right winger, originally from Europe. It’s dressed up to look like its Canadian and staffed by smirky kids like Althea Raj, who believe they know everything. No real relevance to Canada or Canadians.

  21. Aldege says:

    I thought a more fullsome throttling was in order. Provocateurs such as this separatist, Bill Clennett, was making an ass of himself at a Flag Day ceremony filled with school children. If this was south of the boder, he’d still be locked-up.

  22. GFMD says:

    It’s understandable to be spooked into lashing out, esp. when you’re used to having a security detail and they suddenly let people past. (And we’ll never know if it was necessary for Mr. Chretien to protect himself). But we should not be so cavalier about attacking our fellow man, no matter who we are. I can’t bear anyone any ill will for what happened, but I don’t glorify it either.

  23. Boucher says:

    It absolutely was awesome; and hey- lets keep things in context. HuffPo gets a surprising amount of credibility considering it’s basically a glorified click farm. Let’s review some of the more intellectually stimulating headlines found just now on the HuffPoCan homepage:

    ‘This Canadian Couple Will Finally Make Up For McAdams And Gosling’

    ‘Do DIY Pore Strips Work?’

    ‘Gawker Says Publishing Hulk Hogan’s Sex Tape Was ‘Good Journalism’

    ‘Yes, There Are Natural Ways To Lighten Your Hair’

    ’10 Reasons To Add Hemp Seeds To Your Life’

    ‘Tween’s Break-Up Text Shows Us All How To Deal With A Cheater’

    ‘Don’t Put Your Peas In Our Guacamole!’

    ‘A Man’s Guide On How To Wear Shorts’

    ‘Want To Drive The HOV Lane? They’ll Sit In Your Car For Money.’

    ‘Kim Kardashian Gets Real’

    ’10 Critical Things You Should Know If You Have A Man Ponytail’

    ‘B.C. Vet Sits In Hot Car To Prove How Much Dogs Can Suffer’

    ‘Brody Admits To Liking Caitlyn Jenner More Than Bruce’

    ‘According To Science, There’s No Such Thing As ‘Out Of Your League’

    … and perhaps the most egregious example among there:

    ‘The Raccoons’ Reboot Is In The Works!’

    And we won’t even get into all of those hard hitting journalism pieces that highlight everything we’ve been “doing wrong all along” or all those things that “break the internet” or alternatively “win the internet”.

    I’ll take the sincerity of the old Shawinigan Handshake any day over this click bate garbage.

  24. Lance says:

    I remember this like it was yesterday. If this had happened in the last 10 years, this picture would have promptly been placed on my desktop background.

    Do you know why the polls soared for Chretien after this incident? Most men dream of doing this to someone that gets in their face and royally pisses them off. Sure it is visceral, but it is honest.

  25. Nic Coivert says:

    It was a very human moment. You’d never see Harper doing that, he throttles in secret.

  26. Ray says:

    It was the toque.
    ANYBODY wearing a toque like that needed to be choked. Period.

  27. Cameron Prymak says:

    I’ll bet his handshake is still as strong.

  28. John says:

    It’s definitely awesome.

  29. Brammer says:

    Fond memories.

    Those shades….”DA CHRETIENATOR”

  30. Bill says:

    wow, weren’t the old days great…

  31. Marlene Anderson says:

    Yup, absolutely awesome. I predict we’ll never again see the likes of Chretien and Trudeau senior. Tough, energetic and politically savvy along with a certain ‘up yours’ attitude that are necessary attributes of an effective leader.

  32. Sean says:

    My dad took that photo. The only photo. Phil Nolan. Can’t believe there’s no cred.

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