It was the annual seminar of the World University Service held in the summer of 1965 in Algeria, for which he and two colleagues were chosen to represent Laval University, that gave Raymond Chrétien a taste for the international scene when he was still a student.
After passing the Quebec Bar exams the following year, Mr. Chrétien joined the Legal Affairs Bureau of the Department of Foreign Affairs, then the Privy Council Office, the Treasury Board, and the Canadian International Development Agency. Outside Canada, he served at Canada's Permanent Mission to the United Nations and at the Canadian embassies in Beirut and Paris. "I started at the bottom of the ladder and moved up one rung at a time" says Mr. Chrétien, who in 1978 was named ambassador to Zaire -- making him then the youngest ambassador in the history of Canadian diplomacy -- with joint accreditation to Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic of Congo. Mr. Chrétien went on to serve as Canada's ambassador to Mexico and Guatemala, then the ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, before being appointed, in 1994, to the most prestigious post in Canadian diplomacy, that of ambassador to Washington, an assignment which he held until 2000. His post as Canada's ambassador to France, perhaps the foreign country that he found the most seductive for its beauty and its rich culture, marked the end of Mr. Chrétien's outstanding diplomatic career. On leaving France, he was made a Commander of the Legion of Honour by President Chirac.
Mr. Chrétien currently acts as strategic advisor at Fasken, Martineau, DuMoulin, one of the largest law firms in the country. He is also chairman of the Board of Directors of the Centre for International Studies and Research at the University of Montreal (CERIUM). Mr. Chrétien is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has been named to the Ordre national du léopard (Congo) and the Order of the Aztec Eagle (Mexico).