I am saddened to read of the death of former Prime Minister John Turner.
As his obituary, in the Globe and Mail, says, he was “A politician of the old school, he was unfailingly courteous, even to his political enemies, and saw public service as a duty for those who had been given much by society … [but after a meteoric rise to power] … He struggled on in politics as leader of the Opposition for almost six years, a tenure marked by disloyalty in his caucus, a determined attempt to dump him through the leadership review process and finally, a coup attempt in the middle of the 1988 election campaign.“
The Globe and Mail quotes Pierre Trudeau’s biographers Christina McCall and Stephen Clarkson, who wrote that he represented “the demise of the old Liberalism and some might say, the old Canada. … John Turner was the virtually the last man standing who still believed in the Liberal alliance that Mackenzie King put together, Louis St. Laurent refined, Lester Pearson extended and Pierre Trudeau ostensibly destroyed.” I take issue with their use of the word “ostensibly.” Pierre Trudeau did, purposefully and maliciously, destroy the old liberal Liberal alliance that King cobbled together and to which St Laurent gave both vision and purpose. I think that John Turner saw that destruction happening and tried to stop it … he began the civil war that plagued the Liberal Party for decades when he challenged the cost of Pierre Trudeau’s ill-conceived “just society.”
But, despite being, ultimately, a failed leader, John Turner was always a kind and decent man and he served his party and his country well.