Campaign Coverage 2020

Former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner has died at 91


Former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner has died at 91
FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2017 file photo, former prime minister John Turner looks on during a photo op to mark the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the first Parliament of Canada, in Ottawa. Turner, whose odyssey from a "Liberal dream in motion" to a political anachronism spanned 30 years, has died at the age of 91. Marc Kealey, a former aide speaking on behalf of Turner's relatives as a family friend, says Turner died peacefully in his sleep at home in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO (AP) — John Turner, a Liberal party politician who served stints as Canada's justice and finance ministers before a very brief turn as the country's 17th prime minister, has died at age 91, his family reported Saturday.

Marc Kealey, a former aide speaking on behalf of Turner’s relatives as a family friend, said Turner died peacefully in his sleep at home in Toronto on Friday night.

Turner failed to live up to the great expectations of his early career, serving as prime minister for just 79 days in 1984 after a difficult, decades-long climb to the top job.

A track star, Turner graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1949, winning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University. After studying law, he went to Paris to work on a doctorate at the Sorbonne.

The young lawyer caused a stir when he danced with Princess Margaret at a party in 1959, giving rise to speculation that the two would become a couple. The two remained friends for life.

Turner moved to Montreal to practice law but was lured into politics in 1962.

As justice minister in Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s Cabinet from 1968 to 1972, Turner proposed a national legal aid system — an issue close to his heart — and created the Federal Court, among other reforms. He defended the decriminalization of homosexuality and abortion in the 1960s

He was named finance minister in 1972 and held the job for three turbulent years, marked by high unemployment and high rates of inflation.

He decisively lost the 1988 federal election to Brian Mulroney over the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, which Turner vehemently opposed.

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This story has been corrected to show that Turner was prime minister in 1984.

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