QUEBEC CITY, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Jean Pelletier, former mayor of Quebec City and chief of staff to former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, died Saturday of colon cancer.
Pelletier, 73, had been sick for some time, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported. He decided last spring to halt chemotherapy and a reunion dinner to mark the 15th anniversary of Chretien's election as premier was moved up to Nov. 15 so he could attend.
Pelletier was elected mayor of Quebec City in 1977 and served in that post until 1988.
Chretien, a friend from school days, asked Pelletier to become his chief of staff in 1991 because he was having trouble as head of the opposition Liberals. Pelletier stayed on the job through Chretien's election as prime minister in 1993, retiring in 2001.
Pelletier was nicknamed the "velvet executioner." Eddie Goldenberg, a veteran of the Chretien administration, described him in his book "The Way It Works: Inside Ottawa" as "the paterfamilias of the family."
"When he left his post, he had established a reputation as having been one of the best chiefs of staff any Canadian prime minister ever had," Goldenberg wrote. "He let you do your work, he gave you your head, but he made sure the trains ran on time."