About John Turner

Biography of the Right Honourable John Napier Wyndham Turner, P.C., C.C., Q.C.

“In any democracy, there is always a tug-of-war between policies to achieve equality, and policies to promote excellence. I am certain that Canada can achieve both equality and excellence.”

John Turner

An accomplished lawyer and politician, John Turner was recognized for his personal integrity and commitment to democracy. Through 3 decades of public service as a cabinet minister, Leader of the Opposition and 17th Prime Minister of Canada, he was tirelessly devoted to upholding Canadian values and principles.

Born in Surrey, England, in 1929, Mr. Turner moved to Canada as a young child and spent his early life in Rossland, British Columbia, and in Ottawa. He was a talented athlete and distinguished himself as a record-breaking track sprinter, qualifying for Canada’s 1948 Olympic Team. After attending the University of British Columbia and receiving a Rhodes scholarship, he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Jurisprudence from Oxford University in England.

Returning to Canada to pursue his career in law, he began working with the Liberal party in the late 1950s. Elected as a Liberal M.P. in 1962, he joined Lester B. Pearson’s cabinet and later, under Pierre Trudeau, occupied senior positions as Minister of Justice (1968-1972) and Minister of Finance (1972-1975).

After leaving politics in 1975, Mr. Turner resumed his former profession in corporate law. Returning to politics in 1984 following Pierre Trudeau’s retirement, he won the Liberal party leadership and became Canada’s 17th Prime Minister. He asked Governor General Jeanne Sauvé to call an election for September of that year. Mr. Turner was defeated in this election, but during his tenure from June to September 1984, he ensured that Canada’s government maintained stability and continuity during a period of difficult transition.

Mr. Turner stayed on as Leader of the Opposition until 1990, and retired from politics in 1993. Throughout his political career, he was recognized for his hard work and professionalism, as well as his genuine respect for his parliamentary colleagues across all parties. He returned to private practice as a lawyer until his retirement in 2013 and remained a political advisor. His numerous accomplishments in politics and law were recognized by his appointment as a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1994.

“Indeed, is not faith in one’s fellow man the very basis of democracy?”

John Turner

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