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Some highlights from the life and career of former prime minister John Turner

TORONTO — Some highlights from the life and career of former prime minister John Turner: June 7, 1929: John Napier Wyndham Turner is born in Richmond, England. 1932: Turner and his mother move to British Columbia following the death of his father.
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TORONTO — Some highlights from the life and career of former prime minister John Turner:

June 7, 1929: John Napier Wyndham Turner is born in Richmond, England.

1932: Turner and his mother move to British Columbia following the death of his father. They move to Ottawa, where Turner attends private schools.

1945: Turner's mother marries Frank Mackenzie Ross, future lieutenant-governor of British Columbia.

1945: Turner enrols at the University of British Columbia at age 16.

1948: Turner qualifies for Canada's track and field Olympic team, excelling in particular at the 100-metre sprint, but is kept from competing by an injured knee.

1949: Turner graduates from UBC and wins a Rhodes Scholarship.

1951: Turner completes his law degree at Oxford.

1952: Turner begins, but does not complete, doctoral studies in Paris, where he learned to speak French.

1954: Turner is called to the Quebec bar and begins his legal career at the law firm Stikeman Elliott.

1957: Turner returns to Oxford to complete a master's degree.

1959: Turner earns a spot in the gossip columns by dancing with Princess Margaret at a party.

June 1962: Turner is first elected as a Liberal member of Parliament representing the Montreal-area riding of St. Laurent-St. Georges.

May 11, 1963: Turner marries Geills McCrae Kilgour. The couple would go on to have four children — a daughter and three sons.

1965: Turner becomes a minister without portfolio in the cabinet of then-prime minister Lester Pearson.

1965: While vacationing in Barbados, Turner rescues former prime minister John Diefenbaker from drowning after the elder statesman is caught in a strong ocean current. Diefenbaker was Opposition leader at the time.

1967: Pearson appoints Turner as minister of consumer and corporate affairs.

1968: Turner runs for leadership of the Liberal party, finishing in third place behind Pierre Trudeau. When Trudeau announces his cabinet, Turner is appointed as minister of justice.

1972: Turner is named minister of finance.

1975: Turner abruptly resigns from cabinet and public life, one year after Trudeau's government is re-elected. Turner confirms in later interviews that his decision stemmed from policy differences with Trudeau. He shifts his focus to practising law at Toronto's firm McMillan Binch.

June 1984: Turner re-enters politics by running for the Liberal leadership in the wake of Trudeau's resignation. He defeats Jean Chretien on the second ballot.

June 30, 1984: Turner is sworn in as Canada's 17th prime minister. Days later, Turner asks the governor general to dissolve Parliament and call a general election.

July 1984: Turner is caught on camera patting the bottom of Liberal party president Iona Campagnolo, getting the campaign off to a rocky start.

July 25, 1984: Turner takes part in the English-language leaders debate. In a now infamous exchange with Conservative leader Brian Mulroney, Turner defends a raft of patronage appointments that he had refused to cancel upon assuming leadership of the country. He argues that he had no choice but to execute the appointments, which had sparked public backlash. Mulroney's retort, beginning with the now famous phrase, "You had an option, sir," is widely regarded as the moment that changed the direction of the campaign.

Sept. 4, 1984: Turner and the Liberals are soundly defeated in the election, losing 95 seats and reducing the party to its lowest levels of support to that point. Turner managed to win the riding of Vancouver Quadra.

Nov. 21, 1988: Another federal election is held, during which Turner's aggressive stance against Mulroney's free trade agreement with the U.S. allows the party to nearly double its vote share. Still, the Liberals fall short of forming government, winning 83 seats.

May 1989: Turner announces his intention to resign as Liberal party leader.

June 1990: Chretien wins the Liberal leadership race.

1993: Turner leaves the House of Commons and returns to practising law.

1994: Turner is named a companion of the Order of Canada.

2001: Turner's official portrait as prime minister on Parliament Hill is unveiled.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2020.

The Canadian Press



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