Connect with us

Education

John Turner, PM and Liberal leader who battled free trade with U.S., dead at 91

Published

on

John Turner, Canada’s 17th prime minister who spent decades in federal politics as a cabinet minister and Liberal Party leader during some of the most turbulent moments in modern Canadian history, has died at 91.

Turner led Canada for 79 days in the summer of 1984 — the second-shortest time in office of any prime minister.

Dubbed “Canada’s Kennedy” as a stylish, up-and-coming young MP in the early 1960s, Turner was Pierre Trudeau’s chief anglophone lieutenant in cabinet for years. Turner served as justice minister when the government decriminalized homosexuality and suspended civil liberties during the October Crisis in 1970, and was the finance minister as Ottawa struggled to control deficit spending and inflation during the oil crisis.

After a shock resignation from Trudeau’s government and a period of self-imposed exile on Bay Street, Turner eventually completed his climb to the Liberal leadership in the mid-1980s. But he inherited a party suffering from years of accumulated scandals and an electorate ready for change after more than two decades of nearly unbroken Liberal rule.

In the end, Turner’s most enduring moments in federal politics came once his short stint at 24 Sussex was over — namely, years of bitter battles waged with Brian Mulroney over free trade with the United States. They were fierce fights that Turner eventually lost, but the legacy of those debates continues to shape Canadian politics today.

On Saturday, Mulroney remembered Turner as a man “destined for great success” and a politician who “never believed in the politics of personal destruction.”

WATCH | Remembering former prime minister John Turner:

Once dubbed ‘Canada’s Kennedy’ as an MP in the early 1960s, the country’s 17th prime minister, John Turner, has died at 91. 3:23

Early life

Turner was born in the English town of Richmond upon Thames on June 7, 1929. When his father died just three years later, his Canadian-born mother moved the family to Canada, where they eventually settled in Ottawa’s posh Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood, surrounded by members of the country’s ruling political class.

After the Second World War, his mother remarried — to industrialist and future B.C. lieutenant governor Frank Ross — and the family moved west, where Turner attended the University of British Columbia. He became a track star, setting a national record for the 100-yard dash in 1947, and narrowly missed his chance to compete at the 1948 Olympics after smashing his knee in a car accident.

“Chick,” as the popular athlete became known, graduated from UBC in 1949 and received a Rhodes scholarship to study law at Oxford. He was called to the bar in London and started a doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris, but he returned to Canada in 1953 before it was completed, joining the Montreal law firm Stikeman Elliott shortly thereafter.

Meteoric rise

Turner’s first taste of national politics came when C.D. Howe, the storied “Minister of Everything” under Mackenzie King, recruited him in 1957 to help organize a Liberal re-election campaign. 

The young lawyer’s profile swelled within the Liberal ranks as he started speaking at policy conventions, but it truly took off after he made headlines worldwide for dancing with Princess Margaret during a 1958 royal tour of British Columbia. Letters from the princess published in 2015 revealed she “nearly married him,” and it was reported the pair only broke up after Buckingham Palace ordered an end to the relationship. 

Former prime minister John Turner and Princess Margaret made headlines in 1958 during the princess’s visit to Canada. Newly unearthed letters written by Margaret reveal the pair may have ‘nearly married.’ (The Canadian Press)

In 1961, with the Liberals languishing in opposition and eager to recruit young talent, Turner was wooed into running for the party in the 1962 federal election.

The 32-year-old lawyer accepted, winning his Montreal riding and joining a cohort of rookie lawmakers — including Herb Gray and Gerald Regan — that Maclean’s magazine called “probably the brightest group of MPs ever to appear simultaneously in a Canadian Parliament.”

Turner married his wife, Geills McCrae Kilgour, in 1963, at a time when he was quickly rising within the Liberal caucus. By 1965, he had joined Lester Pearson’s cabinet as minister without portfolio, and by 1967 he was minister of consumer and corporate affairs.

When Pearson stepped down as prime minister in 1967, Turner eagerly entered the race to replace him on an anti-establishment platform that pledged to lower the voting age and improve skills training for young Canadians.

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, second from right, and, from left, cabinet ministers Pierre Trudeau, John Turner and Jean Chrétien talk in Ottawa in April 1967.

“My time is now and now is no time for mellow men,” Turner told delegates at the 1968 Liberal leadership convention.

Trudeau emerged the victor at that convention, but Turner hung on until the final ballot. The 195 delegates who stuck with him until the bitter end were rumoured to have subsequently formed the “195 Club,” a secretive cadre of well-placed political organizers quietly waiting for his next leadership campaign.

Trudeau heir apparent

The promising Liberal would soon be considered Trudeau’s heir apparent and the natural choice to continue the Liberals’ traditional anglophone-francophone leadership rotation. 

Appointed justice minister in 1968, Turner championed key reforms to Canada’s Criminal Code that opened the door to LGBTQ rights and legal abortions. He also implemented, defended and eventually dismantled the controversial War Measures Act during the FLQ crisis and appointed Canada’s first Jewish Supreme Court justice, Bora Laskin.

Shuffled into the finance portfolio in 1972, Turner faced mounting economic pressures due to the global oil crisis. He also became the government’s main economic interlocutor with the White House, playing tennis with Treasury Secretary George Schultz and frequently ironing out bilateral issues over dinner with President Richard Nixon.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau explains federal proposals to deal with the energy problem as Finance Minister John Turner looks on at the Ottawa conference centre in January 1973. (The Canadian Press)

Successive Turner budgets prioritized low unemployment levels, but at the cost of double-digit inflation and soaring deficits. Still, some Liberals would later defend Turner as a voice of fiscal prudence at the Trudeau cabinet table, implementing the government’s policy in public but privately advocating restraint while other ministers clamoured for ever-bigger budgets.

In time, Turner and Trudeau developed a notorious rivalry, and after 10 years as a senior minister in the Trudeau government, Turner resigned from cabinet in 1975 with a terse, enigmatic letter.

Waiting in the wings

Turner formally vacated his seat in Parliament in 1976 and decamped with his wife and four children to Toronto. On Bay Street, he became a high-paid lawyer at McMillan Binch and joined the boards of some of Canada’s most powerful companies, including Canadian Pacific, Seagram’s and Holt Renfrew.

He remained in Toronto for the ensuing eight years, refusing to give interviews but maintaining a public profile as the Liberal Party’s leader-in-waiting.

Turner would also prove a thorn in the side for many former cabinet colleagues, pumping out corporate newsletters to clients that lambasted the Liberals’ economic policies. While Jean Chrétien, another of Turner’s bitter rivals, dismissed the newsletters as a “gossip column,” opposition MPs eagerly weaponized the missives in Question Period.

WATCH | Turner returns to public life:

After close to a decade of self-imposed exile, Turner the lawyer returns to public life to claim the title of Liberal leader – and prime minister. 5:59

1984 coronation

After Trudeau’s second resignation in 1984, Turner finally won the top Liberal job, becoming leader and prime minister at a convention many saw as a coronation.

But he inherited a party sagging and scarred from too many years in power. Turner’s decision to move ahead with over 200 appointments proposed by Trudeau in his final days as prime minister cemented the party’s image as out of touch and too comfortable in power.

During the ’84 televised election debate, Mulroney eviscerated Turner when the Liberal leader unconvincingly argued he had “no option” but to follow through with the appointments. In one of the most iconic exchanges in modern Canadian politics, Mulroney replied: “You could have said: ‘I am not going to do it. This is wrong for Canada, and I am not going to ask Canadians to pay the price.'”

WATCH | Behind the scenes at the 1984 Liberal leadership convention:

A behind-the-scenes look at the drama and bitterness behind John Turner’s win at the 1984 Liberal leadership convention. 21:09

In the end, the Liberals suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of the Progressive Conservatives, receiving just 40 of 282 seats — at the time, the party’s worst-ever showing. 

Turner had been prime minister for little more than 11 weeks. Only Charles Tupper held the country’s top job for less time — 68 days in 1896. 

Turner hung on as Liberal leader, however, rebuilding the party and duelling with Mulroney over the Meech Lake Accord and, most memorably, Canada’s trading relationship with the U.S. — a battle he called “the fight of my life.” 

He also weathered the firestorm created by Reign of Error, a searing biography by journalist Greg Weston that portrayed Turner as a heavy-drinking, hypocritical loose cannon. One CBC reporter said it was “written with acid.”

Free-trade fight

Fearing the impact Mulroney’s Free Trade Agreement would have on Canadian sovereignty, Turner made the controversial move in 1988 to instruct Liberal senators to block legislation that would have ratified the deal. 

Turner was accused of misusing the powers of the unelected Senate, but he told CBC’s Bill Cameron at the time, “I believe if Canadians are given a choice to vote on this trade deal, people will reject it.”

WATCH | Mulroney battles Turner on free trade in 1988:

An invigorated John Turner takes on Brian Mulroney over his controversial free trade deal with the U.S. 4:36

The decision triggered an election dominated by Canada’s trading relationship with the U.S., during which Turner, with the support of Canada’s labour unions and arts community, fiercely fought the future agreement. In another iconic live TV election debate, Turner told Mulroney “You’ve sold us out” with “one signature of a pen,” and argued the deal would “turn us into a colony of the United States.” 

In the end, although the Liberals increased their share of the House of Commons to 83 seats, Canadians returned the PCs to power with a second majority. The FTA was successfully ratified in Parliament, and after surviving an attempted caucus putsch, Turner eventually retired as Liberal leader in 1990.

Retreat from public life

In an exit interview with CBC Radio’s Dale Goldhawk in 1990, Turner said the trade agreement was “a bad contract for Canada,” adding “history will prove me right.”

He also said that he wished he’d done more to create opportunities for education, protect the environment, promote gender equality and “[bring] Aboriginal people back into the mainstream.”

Former prime ministers, right to left, Pierre Trudeau, John Turner and Kim Campbell applaud former parliamentarians who were honoured at a plaque unveiling ceremony in the House of Commons in May 1996. (Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press)

Turner retained his seat in the House until 1993 but largely retreated from public life after stepping down as Liberal leader.

In 1994, he was named a companion of the Order of Canada and, in 2004, led the Canadian delegation of election monitors in Ukraine.

After leaving full-time politics, he returned to practising law in Toronto but remained an outspoken advocate against the centralization of power in Ottawa, the manipulation of House of Commons debates and bills and the diminishing role of parliamentary committees in the legislative process. He also showed a particular interest in speaking about politics with young people.

Turner stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in November 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

“Democracy doesn’t happen by accident, you’ve got to work at it,” he told the Globe and Mail in 2009. “At the moment, Canadians are getting a little lazy about it, a little inattentive, and we’ve got to revive it.”

Turner is survived by his wife and four children.

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Education

CBU to honour Donald Marshall Jr. with new research centre

Published

on

By

A new research institute planned for Cape Breton University will honour the legacy of Donald Marshall Jr., who fought for the Indigenous right to fish for a moderate livelihood.

The Mi’kmaw man’s name has been invoked in recent weeks by Indigenous fishermen in southwest Nova Scotia who have launched self-regulated lobster fisheries. 

“I think it’s very timely in terms of the need for knowledge sharing, for advocacy and for action,” said Janice Tulk, a senior researcher in the university’s development department. 

The idea for the institute has been in the works for a couple of years, sparked by one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which emphasized the need for education about Indigenous law and Indigenous rights.

Donald Marshall Jr. addresses a crowd in Sydney, N.S., after leading a peaceful protest over Indigenous fishing rights, on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2000. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

“We started thinking about what could we do at Cape Breton University that would respond to that call,” said Tulk, whose areas of expertise include Mi’kmaw history and culture, as well as Indigenous economic reconciliation.

Tulk said the university has partnered with Cape Breton’s Mi’kmaw communities over the past 40 years to provide higher education in a variety of fields, with the creation of Mi’kmaw studies programs, Mi’kmaw science programs and more recently, Indigenous business and mentorship programs. The university saw the research institute as a next opportunity, said Tulk.

‘I think it’s amazing’

Cape Breton University will work with members of the Marshall family over the coming months to solidify the vision for the institute.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Crystal Bernard, Donald Marshall Jr.’s daughter.

“We’re so humbled and honoured that they would do this for him, in his name. And I know he would be very proud, as well.”

The idea was made public Monday as the university unveiled plans for a proposed, $80-million Centre for Discovery and Innovation. The project has yet to receive funding, but should it go ahead, it will house the Marshall Institute.

“We need a space where community collaboration can occur,” said Tulk, noting the institute will proceed with or without the new building.

Janice Tulk’s expertise includes Mi’kmaw history and culture, as well as Indigenous tourism development and economic reconciliation. (cbu.ca)

That collaboration will involve university researchers, faculty members and students, as well as community members and organizations such as the Bras d’Or Lakes Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative and the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources, as well as various levels of government.

“I think we’re going to have some really valuable conversations that will advance our understanding of environmental justice and Indigenous approaches to climate change, and hopefully start to make some progress on those things through those dialogues, through advocacy, through policy change,” said Tulk.

Asked what role the institute might play in situations such as the current unrest over the Indigenous moderate livelihood fishery in Nova Scotia, Tulk said it would serve to help educate people about treaties and Indigenous rights.

“I would imagine that there would be advocacy as well,” said Tulk. “Certainly the institute could play a role in bringing stakeholders together to have honest conversations and collaboratively come up with solutions.”

Bernard said she believes her father would be disappointed by the ongoing situation in southwest Nova Scotia.

“I think it would be very upsetting to him that we’re having to go through this again,” she said.

“On the other hand, I think he’d be on the front lines, fighting with our people, trying to get people to understand that the treaty rights are not up for debate.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Education

Calgary Catholic school increases safety precautions after district’s ‘explosion’ of COVID-19 cases

Published

on

By

Just last week, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Calgary Catholic School District was in the low twenties. But over the weekend, there was an “explosion of cases,” which has led some schools to take drastic steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

Chief superintendent Bryan Szumlas says there are now 64 students and six teachers within the district who have active cases of COVID-19.

“Over the weekend, we saw an explosion of cases.… This is like a three times increase in the last five days. I believe this is what we’re seeing now as a result of the gatherings that happened over the Thanksgiving long weekend,” he said. “Within Calgary Catholic, we have 118 schools, and 35 of our schools right now are dealing with active cases of COVID-19.”

Szumlas said dealing with COVID-19 in schools is an always evolving situation.

“After a 14-day period, some of these schools come off the list where others go on the list. Since the beginning of the school year, it has been a roller-coaster of ups and downs,” he said.  “Right now, we are at a low point and we’re asking all of our parents and our students to please be vigilant and to continue to practise our health measures as we go forward.”

Szumlas said there were roughly 1,000 students in isolation last week, but since then that number has more than doubled, and there are now about 2,400 students and staff who are in self-isolation.  

“Now, that number may seem fairly large, but to put it in perspective, our school district has just over 56,000 students. So that’s roughly 3.5 to four per cent of our total population,” he said.

“Of course, it worries me, but I have a lot of faith that working together with our communities, that this is a little blip right now and we can, if we work together, we can change that curve and bring it down, if we’re all working together and continuing to practise our health measures.”

The recent surge in cases at Calgary Catholic has lead some schools like St. Francis High School to take a more severe approach to curbing cases within the school population. 

In a letter home to St. Francis parents on Monday, the principal announced that five families had received confirmation of a student testing positive for COVID-19, and thus 300 students and 12 staff were in isolation.

As a result of the rise in cases, St. Francis will end its fall athletic program.

“This is necessary to reduce staff and students potentially needing to self-isolate because of a positive COVID-19 case. The start of our winter athletic season will also be postponed until we see a drop in positive cases at Saint Francis,” wrote principal Mark Berger.

The school has also chosen to make final exams “write to improve” only (meaning a lower grade can’t bring down the student’s overall mark).

Szumlas said he supports these moves. 

“I do support what this principal and the school is doing. This is innovative, collaborative. They’re informing their parents. We stand behind this and it is part of the assessment practices,” he said. 

Berger’s letter also appealed to parents to not let teens gather on weekends.

“Some of the positive cases reported were associated with weekend student gatherings. We ask families to consider the potential negative impacts of group gatherings on our school community,” said Berger.

“We are asking parents to discuss with their children the importance of social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and the sharing of food and beverages.”

The Calgary Board of Education, since the beginning of the school year, has had 140 positive cases and 80-plus schools affected by them. 

In October, the CBE said 3,300 students and 325 staff members had been impacted by mandatory isolations. 

Of those attending CBE’s in-person learning, five per cent of students and 3.5 per cent of staff have been affected by required quaranties since September.

“To date, we have had six cases of suspected in-school transmission,” said CBE superintendent of school improvement, Joanne Pittman.

“What I would also say, though, is that even with that suspected in-school transmission, individuals who may have then tested positive have already been in quarantine, and as a result, additional actions were not required because of the safety precautions already put into place. “

CBE board chair Marilyn Dennis said parents should be encouraged by these numbers. 

“The fact that we have only 0.1 per cent of in-person students and .06 per cent of staff that have been identified with a positive case, I would think that would be very encouraging for families,” she said. 

“The strength of it is, No. 1, that we have strong compliance due to the protocols we put in place [and], No. 2, that we have been thorough in our response. We think we can be proud of the work that we’re doing in our schools to try and keep our communities healthy.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Education

Corrections watchdog urges moratorium on doctor-assisted deaths in Canadian prisons – Kamloops This Week

Published

on

By

Continue Reading

Trending