John Turner, a Liberal Party politician who served as Minister of Justice and Finance for Canada before a very brief stint as Prime Minister, has died at the age of 91.
Marc Kealey, a former aide speaking on behalf of the family, said Turner passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Toronto on Friday evening.
Turner fell short of the high expectations of his early career, serving as prime minister for just 79 days in 1988 after a difficult decades-long rise to the top post.
A star in track athletics, Turner graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1949 and won a Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford. After studying law, he left for Paris to do a doctorate at the Sorbonne.
The young lawyer caused a sensation when he danced with Princess Margaret at a party in 1959, giving rise to speculation the two would become a couple. The two have remained friends for life.
Turner moved to Montreal to practice law, but was drawn to politics in 1962.
As justice minister in 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 appointed Minister of Finance in 1972 and served in the post for three eventful years marked by high unemployment and high inflation rates.
As leader of the Liberal Party and the new Prime Minister of Canada, he permanently lost the 1988 federal election to Brian Mulroney because of the free trade agreement between Canada and the United States, to which Turner s is strongly opposed.