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Jean Chretien Can't Stop Choking People

They were re-enacting the "Shawinigan Handshake."

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Jean Chrétien and Bob Rae are both former leaders of the Liberal Party of Canada. Something else they have in common: They like to choke each other.

Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The two met up at Dalhousie University this week for the launch of a new public policy institute. Before they sat down for a discussion, Chretien wrapped his hand around Rae's neck and jokingly choked him for a few seconds, as one does.

Rae later returned the favour, sneaking up on Chrétien at dinner and choking him from behind.

One good handshake deserves another ! It was a good day yesterday in Halifax for the MacEachen Institute.

Chrétien and Rae's choking gag is a reference to the famous "Shawinigan Handshake" — when, as prime minister, Chrétien choked an anti-poverty protester who got in his way.

Phil Nolan / The Canadian Press

The activist, Bill Clennett, lost a tooth as a result of the confrontation with Chrétien. He was protesting cuts to employment insurance at a flag day event in Hull, Quebec, in 1996.

(Of course, Bob Rae also has some experience with choking. See: his time as premier of Ontario.)

Chrétien never apologized for the incident, and he has made light of it in the years since. Although his actions were deemed "un-prime ministerial" at the time, he was given a pass by the public because a knife-wielding intruder had broken into his home just months earlier. So it wasn't unfathomable that he might be somewhat jumpy.


It's kind of his "thing" now.

I've always admired Jean Chretien's commitment to choking people.