On This Day in Canada's Political History: Birthday of Rt. Hon. John Napier Turner

  • National Newswatch

Today is the anniversary of the birth of the late former Prime Minister John Napier Turner, a distinguished Canadian who earned the respect of friends and foes in politics.   I'm very pleased today to welcome another guest contributor to Art's History – Dalton McGuinty.  Mr. McGuinty, the most successful Liberal Premier since Sir Oliver Mowat, knew the Rt. Hon. John Napier Turner well.  In the 1970s his father, Dalton McGuinty Sr., served as Mr. Turner's riding president in the future PM's Ottawa riding.  So, again, it is a very real privilege to welcome to Art's History, Ontario's 24th Premier, my friend and fellow fan of political history, Dalton McGuinty.


By Dalton McGuintyAs a young man, John Turner had everything going for him. The brains, the looks, the athleticism. He was a star. People were drawn to him and, perhaps because of that, a lot was expected of him.  Turner could have chosen the comfort, convenience and financial rewards offered by private life.  But he chose the public arena.  Again and again.Turner believed the true measure of a life lived is in how much we have given.  He gave a lot.  He spent twenty-three years in politics serving as prime minister, leader of the opposition, and in rough portfolios like finance and justice.Tellingly, Turner had returned to politics after a nine-year interregnum.  What's more, he stayed on for six years as leader of the opposition after serving as prime minister.  Both decisions speak to the strength of his commitment to public service.A close examination of John Turner's life reveals, as any life reveals, where he came up short.  What distinguishes the 17th prime minister were the ideals that inspired his efforts and the integrity of those efforts.  He never stopped believing that we are at our best when we commit ourselves to the welfare of others, and that there is no higher calling than politics and public service.Turner believed Canada was a precious gift to all of us and we all shared a heavy responsibility to both cherish our country and engage in the endless struggle to make it even better.John Napier Turner, husband, father, lawyer, and prime minister may have made his most enduring mark on Canada during his retirement years.  His constant, passionate entreaties to all of us, and especially to young Canadians, to not take our democracy for granted is wise counsel we would do well to consider.Birthday Alert from Art's History: Sending out birthday greetings to Ontario MP Rob Oliphant and CTV's Graham Richardson.[caption id="attachment_555555" align="aligncenter" width="538"] John Turner celebrates his election as leader of the Liberal Party, Ottawa, 1984[/caption]Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist.  He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney's best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen's Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy.  A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.