POLITICS

'22 Minutes' Star Asks Jean Chretien To Give Him 'Shawinigan Handshake'

01/27/2014 12:34 EST

Former prime minister Jean Chretien has been the subject of great adulation since turning 80 earlier this month.

The Liberal icon, who governed Canada for 10 years, was feted at a star-studded tribute dinner in Toronto last week featuring glowing speeches, not just from Grits but politicians across the political spectrum.

Former NDP premier Roy Romanow went as far as to predict history will remember Chretien as one of the best prime ministers Canada has ever had.

But more than a few politicos poked fun at the former PM's "Shawinigan handshake," the epithet given to the infamous chokehold he applied on anti-poverty protester Bill Clennett, back in 1996.

The phrase paid tribute to Chretien's hometown in Quebec and his nickname as "the little guy from Shawinigan." A beer was even named after the incident.

Close to 20 years later, it's hard to imagine what would happen if Prime Minister Stephen Harper attempted something similar — say on those protesters who crashed a recent event in Vancouver.

But, as the story goes, Chretien's approval ratings actually went up after the bizarre incident.

So, perhaps it's no surprise that "22 Minutes" rabble-rouser Mark Critch — the same man who recently invited Justin Trudeau to "light up" in the Liberal leader's office — asked Chretien to recreate the moment.

In a clip that will air Tuesday night, Critch called Chretien the most popular "character" they've ever had on the show. And he didn't hesitate to poke fun at Chretien's advanced age.

"He has no idea where he is these days," Critch said.

After the conversation shifted to the iconic photo of Chretien choking the protester, the comedian wondered if the PM would do him the honour.

"Would you give me one?" Critch asked.

"Really? You're sure?" Chretien asked seconds before pouncing.

"Birthdays always choke me up," Critch replied.

This Hour Has 22 Minutes airs on CBC TV Tuesday nights at 8:30 p.m. Catch more clips of the show on Facebook and Twitter.

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