Marc’s Posts

August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Subscribe to MarcKealey.com

Posts Tagged ‘John Turner’

Rt. Hon. John N. Turner recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse
Source: The Niagara Independent

Niagara is a big part of the legacy of former Prime Minister John Napier Turner – he has helped grow her fortunes by attracting major international business while in private practice as a  lawyer and in his public role as MP; he’s been a prominent voice for her cultural and agricultural attractions like the Shaw Festival and many, many wineries.  More importantly John Turner has many friends and associates from Niagara.  Most especially he is a stalwart champion for water – the most famous attraction in Canada being Niagara.

In June of this year, Canada’s 17th Prime Minister and one of her most prolific elected politicians celebrated his 90th birthday.  In the case of John Turner, most of what he’s accomplished in the nine decades of his extraordinary life is significance beyond the pale.  His 90th birthday party, co-chaired by the writer and Lisa Haley  (both Lisa and I were staffers for Turner on Parliament Hill 1984-1990). Those years was the era of free trade, of constitutional debate and when Confederation became mature –  most importantly it was widely hailed as the last and best times known in Canadian politics.

Given the run up to the federal election this fall, Mr. Turner’s birthday celebration marked an occasion of civility and bi-partisanship that heretofore had not been seen in Canada for years.  In fact, the occasion was marked by the presence and participation of every former Prime Minister of Canada and the current Prime Minster – the first time in the history of Canada.  At no other time in Canadian history have every and all living former Prime Ministers attended the same event.  But then again, it’s John Turner – he’s the dean of all former Prime Ministers and, without hyperbole, the most celebrated.

Rhodes scholar, Olympic athlete, accomplished lawyer and politician.  He once dated royalty, advised Popes, played touch football with the Kennedy’s and negotiated with Presidents and other world leaders in a spectacular political career that spanned 50 years.

And he’s still going. He’s 90 years old in 2019 and even when he was in his mid-80’s he continued to paddle Canada’s lakes and rivers in every corner of the country. The public John Turner is known for his accomplishments as an elected official having been elected in three provinces – a first in Canada and never repeated.  He was first elected in a Montreal riding in Quebec in 1962 – was re-elected in an Ottawa riding in Ontario in 1968 and was again re-elected in a Vancouver riding in BC in 1984.  He served in the Cabinets of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and Prime Minster Pierre Trudeau in the 1960’s and 70’s.  He ran to be Leader of his Party in 1968 losing to Trudeau yet replaced him as Leader when he ran and successfully won the leadership in 1984. Of course, the election outcome in 1984 saw the rise of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, but Turner and Mulroney were worthy advocates fighting two elections at a time when Canada was punching way above its weight. The debates of the 1980’s on Free Trade and constitutional oversight for Canada were legendary – Turner characterized them as the fights of his life.  Books have been written about that political era as the “last best”.

What many don’t know is that the private John Turner is equally as accomplished.  And he’s been quietly effective. He is known by many in Lake of the Woods (Kenora) where his family’s summer retreat is located as its best steward of the waterways in that area.  In fact, it was John Turner who encouraged the International Joint Commission(IJC) , a US/Canada treaty organization mandated to oversee inland waterways between Canada and the United States, to commit the Lake of the Woods waterway to jurisdiction of the IJC thereby ensuring appropriate funding for its clean-up and protection.

Water is his passion – he is the only Canadian to have paddled every lake and river in Canada – an accomplishment that has been recognized by the Royal Geographic Society.  He is the architect of the most recent treaty on the Columbia River signed in the late 1960’s.  He and then Senator Hillary Clinton (his close friend)  signed the 100th anniversary charter for the IJC in 2012 on the bridge that spans the Niagara River in Niagara Falls.  He was appointed by then Prime Minister Portia Simpson of Jamaica as the Chairman of the Jamaica-Canada Disaster Relief and Resilience Initiative recognizing his expertise on resilience in the face of disasters that may befall the Caribbean.  It was that initiative that set the staging area for Canada’s effective role in managing the first response after the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.

In more recent years, Prime Minister Turner has lent his name and caché to an award for students at Brock University and Niagara College studying and demonstrating leadership for water.  That award grant continues to this day and will likely growing with the establishment of a permanent institute of water proposed in Niagara Region.

Most of these exploits were recounted at his birthday celebration in Ottawa this month. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led the evening off with candid remarks to the politically awesome assembly of well over 200 invited guests about his personal and lifelong friendship of Mr. Turner.  The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Hon. Geoff Regan, introduced Mr. Turner while Turner’s daughter,  Elizabeth, offered poignant words on behalf of the Turner family.  Former PM’s Joe Clark, Paul Martin and Jean Chretien provided extraordinary oratories on their relationship Mr. Turner, while former PM’s Mulroney, Campbell and Harper all provided wonderful video tributes.  Media greats Lloyd Robertson, Peter Mansbridge, Guy Gendron and Don Newman were on-hand to introduce the former PM’s and the evening ended with special introductions of noted Canadians attending like Ed Broadbent, Irwin Cotler, former Premiers David Peterson and Frank McKenna.   Of special note was the reading of a personal note from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth – welcoming her good friend John Turner (who once dated her sister Margaret) to the 90’s club.

Social media has been abuzz characterizing his 90th birthday party as one of the best political events Ottawa had ever witnessed.  Media reports in major dailies by those reporters in attendance were equally as effusive.  A befitting tribute to a great Canadian who is a living witness to some of the best of Canada – and more to come.

- Marc Kealey
Share

Notes for Remarks

Rt. Hon. John N. Turner P.C., C.C., Q.C.

90th Birthday Celebration

June 10, 2019

Ottawa, Ontario

 

 

Check against delivery

 

 

Thank you, Merci , Speaker Regan, for your comments and best  wishes.

 

At 90 years old – I’m probably the oldest person in this room and, as such,  I’m allowed the chance to say whatever the hell I want!

 

Permettez-moi de commencer par vous remercier tous d’être venus ici pour célébrer cette étape avec moi.  Vous tous dans cette salle ont été une partie de ma vie publique et privée depuis des décennies et je vous remercie tous d’être ici

 

I’m particularly happy that Prime Ministers Trudeau, Clark, Chretien and Martin have come tonight to honour this milestone.  Your presence here means a lot to me, but more importantly the roles each of you have played in making Canada what she is today –

 

le monde connaît le Canada plus intimement grâce à vos réalisations personnelles et collectives. Je vous suis reconnaissant.

 

Encore, je voudrais dire merci Monsieur le president, Speaker of the House of Commons –

the Honourable Geoff Regan

for being here this evening and making the venue available for us to celebrate.  I also want to thank Speaker of the Senate the Honourable Chuck Furey for his support of this event as well.

 

I want to acknowledge and thank my daughter Elizabeth for being here tonight to celebrate with me and her own daughter – my grand-daughter – Fiona.  Your love and support are appreciated.

 

I also want to thank and recognize the Co-Chairs for tonight – Lisa Haley and Marc Kealey.  Both have worked for me for many years and their efforts to make this event so memorable for all of us does not go unnoticed.  I especially want to recognize that today is Marc’s birthday and I wish you the very best, my friend!

 

I’m delighted that so many former and current Cabinet Ministers are here this evening – many of whom I served with in Cabinet in the 60’s, 70’s and my own in the 80’s. 

 

Vous avez tous été une partie importante de la croissance de ce pays et j’apprécie que vous soyez ici pour célébrer avec moi.

 

I want to thank the High Commissioner for Jamaica -her Excellency Janice Miller for being here.  I know Jamaica is in mourning over the recent passing of my friend – former Prime Minister Seaga, which is why the Prime Minister of Jamaica could not attend tonight.  Many of you don’t know that Marc Kealey and I sit on the Board of the Jamaica Canada Disaster Relief and Resilience Initiative that Howard Shearer – who is here tonight – Chairs. 

 

The initiative was set up because Canada is recognized as a leader for disaster resilience and response and I’m proud of the work we have accomplished so far to set a staging area in Jamaica for the entire Caribbean to prepare IF any disaster should befall that region.  I will be returning to Jamaica in the fall for meetings to follow up with the Prime Minister on the initiative.

 

I want to recognize Carolyn Bennett, my MP – she is a strong member of parliament and an even stronger woman.  I look forward to campaigning with her this fall.  That’s my small way to give back!

 

Il est important de redonner. 

 

Il est important aussi, que nous reconnaissons la force.

 

force de caractère et

 

la force de l’action.

 

As a young man, I actually grew up here in Ottawa around strong women – particularly my mother Phyllis. She was an extraordinarily strong woman -she was senior advisor to the Minister of Finance.  She was actually the focus of a cover of Maclean’s Magazine years ago noted as Canada’s highest- ranking female civil servant.  It was she who instilled in me a commitment to democracy!

 

The point I’m making is that involvement in democracy does not happen by accident.  My mother’s career offered me and my sister, Brenda, the opportunity to have a lot.  We were engaged as young children in political society in Ottawa – we’d often times spend quality time with Cabinet Ministers, the Prime Minster and very senior government people from around the world. My mother instilled in me the St. Augustin principle.   I have always tried to govern myself as outlined by St. Augustin “to him (or her) who has been given talent let him (or her) give some of it back.

That means become involved in our community.

Volunteer for work.

Attend meetings.

Discuss ideas for action.

Share in accomplishing a project.

Stay involved.

 

At the local level, neighbourhood, town, or city communicate with city councilors, provincial MLA’s and federal MP’s.

 

Help make things happen.

 

Run for office if that becomes possible.

Make it possible!

Democracy does not happen by accident!

 

 

Je continue à lutter durement pour la démocratie au Canada.  Je vois comment l’accès et les droits et libertés peuvent être compromis et je continue à travailler pour essayer de changer cela. 

 

Let me give a very real example.  When I was practicing law as a junior associate at the law firm I was working at the time in Montreal (Stikeman Elliot), I was invited to the Kingston Conference – 1960.  At that conference, I delivered a paper on the necessity to provide access for all Canadians to Canada’s justice system.  I said that as a democracy we should ensure that no one despite their cultural or economic circumstance should fall victim to a lapse in access to the justice system.

 

My paper clearly garnered some attention because two years later, Lester Pearson who was the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada asked me to run for his Party. 

 

I won that election because our campaign had a terrific groundswell of support from young people across Montreal/St. Lawrence – I believe the ability of all those young people to rally behind our cause was the reason we did. 

 

People like Jim Robb and Sharon Gray who are here tonight. 

 

My wife, Geills, was involved in the campaign and because she was one of the first people in Canada to have a degree in computer science she prepared the database for our campaign and we used THAT kind of innovative technology to out gun our opponents.  We could easily track voters and their preference and prepared faster than the other party candidates.  

When I went to Ottawa as a rookie MP, I was involved from day one in some of the more important issues of the day and became a Cabinet Minister in Mr. Pearson’s government.  In 1968, I ran for Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada when Prime Minister Pearson resigned and we all know the history. 

 

When I was honoured by Justin’s dad, Pierre, to be his Minister of Justice one of the first things I did was implement my paper from 1960 – to create a system where access for all Canadians to the justice system was paramount and THAT was the start of Legal Aid in Canada.

 

Je dois également dire qu’au cours des années qui ont suivi, j’ai participé à un dialogue de plus en plus éclairé sur l’avenir de la démocratie dans le monde. Le Canada a toujours été considéré comme un pays responsable lorsqu’il s’agit de stabilité et c’est une bonne chose. 

 

 But, there are still opportunities for improvement.  I don’t like the use of the term BACK BENCHER when describing MPs.  It is the MP who holds a prominent position in the House of Commons.  My thinking on this is honed from the Magna Carta – one of the greatest pieces of democracy ever.  Written in 1215, it laid out the essence of democracy in Great Britain and became the template for democracy worldwide. 

 

Even at that time, the Magna Carta spelled out how citizen involvement through the casting of a ballot created the opportunity for a House of Common people (the Commons) to collect at Westminster to govern the people who voted them to attend there.  Once there, did they choose what group would be government by virtue of the number of “seats” their group had in the House and only then did THAT group nominate the person who would become Prime Minister.  It’s  so different today, where Prime Ministers act in a manner that I can only describe as unilateral. 

 

The most important part of democracy in my view is that ‘people govern people’.  We have to hold that principle sacred… where debate and opinion of people matter.  In fact throughout the world they call it parliament from the French word ‘parler’ to speak.  To disallow MPs to speak their mind and offer their opinion compromises the very essence of democracy.

 

Over my political career I have had and still maintain good working and personal relationships with several US Presidents – Bill Clinton (and Hillary of course) remain good friends as well as the Bush Family. Many of you here know of my friendship with the Kennedy family and for the short time I worked with both John and Bobby Kennedy, we worked well together.

I had a particularly better working relationship with President Richard Nixon. I was often sent to Washington to manage issues between our two countries. And we worked them out and I did all that on a handshake.

 

 

I recall a time when I was Minister of Finance, that I went to Washington, had meetings with then Secretary of State George Shultz, who was a good friend of mine, we’d play tennis at the White House, then get ready for dinner with the President.   We’d have a few scotches beforehand as well.    The President once said to me ‘Turner, you’re taking a risk coming here alone – you have no witnesses’. I said ‘Mr. President, if I thought I needed witnesses, I wouldn’t be here ‘.

 

And he gave me a huge bear hug. THAT was the way we resolved issues to determine a course of action.

 

On this issue of democracy I continue to watch THIS closely.  I believe that young people are critical and even today every time Marc Kealey and I travel anywhere in Canada or globally – we visit schools –

 

where I can talk to young people about the need to get involved in the political process.

 

Je pense qu’il est important qu’ils apprennent les subtilités du gouvernement d’un point de vue politique.  J’ai confiance en moi.

 

If I had any advice for young people or those of you in this room, it  would be to get involved.  You know, I tell people all the time that the outcome of doing nothing to impact public policy is impactful! 

 

Nos normes en matière d’éducation et de soins de santé sont sans égales et le fait que nous puissions fournir des services dans les deux langues officielles est un avantage distinct ET que nous devrions célébrer.

 

Wilfrid Laurier said in early 1900’s that the 20th century belongs to Canada. I think, that with the kind of talent that I see around this room and from the constant travel I do today across this country and interaction I have with young people –I’m more than convinced that the 21st century also belongs to Canada.

 

Now that I’m 90, I learned that good relationships keep us healthy and happy.

 

Social connections like this one tonight help us to live longer.  And to that end, it’s not just the number of friends – but the quality of those relationships.  They help to protect our brains and keep our memories sharp.

 

Again, I want to thank each and every one of you for being here to celebrate this event with me – and as they say –

 

a la prochaine!!

 

Merci beaucoup a tous!!!!

 

-30-

Share

Water & Environmental Leadership Award

Friday, October 16, 2015 @ 04:10 PM

Canada’s 17th Prime Minister is coming to Niagara-on-the-Lake on Sept. 24 to help launch the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s (NPCA) inaugural Rt. Hon. John Turner Water & Environmental Leadership Award. The award will be handed out annually to an individual, group or business who has demonstrated leadership in promoting or improving water and the environment within the NPCA’s watershed.

“Our watershed – Niagara, parts of Hamilton and Haldimand – is home to some of the most beautiful nature in Canada,” said NPCA, CAO, Carmen D’Angelo. “There are many organizations and people who voluntarily help promote and enhance our local environmental treasures and we ought to recognize them for their passion and dedication.”


All net proceeds from the evening will support the work of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority through its Foundation. “Projects such as improving water quality, adding to our tree canopy, protecting endangered species and improving our beautiful conservation areas benefit from the generous support of our donors,” said Vice-Chair and Foundation Board member Sandy Annunziata. “We are also happy to announce that part of the proceeds from tonight’s event will establish the Rt. Hon. John Turner Environmental Scholarship,” added Mr. Annunziata. The scholarship will be awarded to a student entering their second year of environmental study at Brock University with exceptional academic standing.

The highlight of the evening will be the awarding of a Canadian, handmade canoe paddle to Mr. Turner, engraved with his name and the name of the award. “This award will forever recognize the passion, dedication and commitment Mr. Turner had during his 25 year career in Canadian Parliament and continuing after his time in politics,” said NPCA Board Chair, Bruce Timms. “He has advocated for and brought a strong influential voice to our nation’s greatest treasures: our water and our land; we honour Prime Minister Turner for all he has done to raise awareness and profile of Canada’s environment and ensure that future generations of Canadians will continue to enjoy our country’s great natural treasures.”

photo gallery credit: npcadigital
- Marc Kealey

Share

John Turner proposed the formation of the Arctic Youth Corps

I really became a Canadian when I got to know Canada north of the 60th parallel… I have never felt more Canadian than when alone with my thoughts in the remote northern vastness.’ — Former Prime Minister John Turner

 
Roderick Benns from Ottawa Life Magazine writes:

Former Prime Minister John Turner has canoed every river in Canada that empties into the Arctic Ocean. As a young parliamentary secretary to Arthur Laing, the minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources under Lester Pearson, he came to know the northern reaches of the country intimately.

While it is the current prime minister, Stephen Harper, who now garners arctic headlines, perhaps the Liberal Party should be reviving a policy idea Turner brought forward to the Pearson government in the 1960s.

Turner accompanied Laing on a trip to the Arctic during two consecutive summers, in 1963-64, and he was deeply affected by what he saw. From Cape Dorset to Port Burwell and many other Arctic communities, Turner saw the Inuit people in a realistic—although precarious—light. They were leaving their old ways behind, but yet not sure how to embrace the opportunities of capitalism that southern Canadians simply took for granted. As his biographer, Paul Litt, has pointed out, Turner wanted the Inuit to develop their own commercial enterprises, so they could run self-sustaining businesses. He believed in encouraging southern Canadian investment in the north.

Part of what Turner saw as a disconnect between the Inuit way of life and southern Canada was the lack of opportunity for the two to ever meet. It was this lack of connection—and the fact that there was no capacity to make it happen—that weighed heavily on him when he sat down to come up with policy options for the Pearson government.

One of his most inspired ideas has been lost in history’s pages – although it was both exciting enough and practical enough for the Pearson government of the day to include it in the 1965 Speech from the Throne. Turner proposed the formation of the Arctic Youth Corps, modelled after the United States’ Peace Corps.

In the US version, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to work at the grassroots level, in an effort to create sustainable change in communities. Turner’s vision was to see the potential for young people from southern Canada to get to know the northern realities of their country. He knew that it was sustainability that was needed in the arctic and that such a program might go a long way in building economic and social bridges between north and south.

He also knew that young Canadians who served in the Arctic Youth Corps would carry this knowledge into subsequent generations. It would be a legacy of real value passed on from one generation to the next.

In a recent interview with Turner, it was clear he believed the Arctic Youth Corps remains a viable idea, declaring that it would “open up the eyes of our young people to our great north.”

While he gives Prime Minister Harper credit for “taking a great interest” in Canada’s arctic, he also notes that “we haven’t done as much as we should.”

Turner says transportation development, education, and a broad range of business opportunities needs to be encouraged in the far north so it can attain its potential. Showcasing what the Inuit people can do with a hand up in infrastructure matters will be important. The Arctic Youth Corps could be a crucial, bridge-building link that is also relatively cost effective, compared to many other arctic initiatives.

Like many who have visited the Canadian arctic, Turner was never able to free himself from its pull. His personal interest remained, even when he moved into other political portfolios. Given Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s teaching background and his interest in Canadian youth, he could do worse than to revive a celebrated – albeit forgotten—policy idea from the most senior Liberal statesman in Canada.

Click here for the original article.
 
- Marc Kealey

Share

John Turner - Making a Difference

By Roderick Benns

When former Prime Minister John Turner reflects on the years he spent as a progressive minister under both Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, he is satisfied he made important social changes for all Canadians.

Asked to consider a time in politics when he knew he was making a difference in Canadians’ lives, Mr. Turner says he “had a lot to do with a number of situations that affected people directly.”

Mr. Turner pointed out he was involved with legislation and departments that had many direct connections to Canadians under both Prime Ministers Pearson and Trudeau.

“For instance, I always believed in balancing individual rights against those of corporations,” says Mr. Turner.

That’s why the former leader says he was proud to introduce the bill in the House of Commons in 1967 that created the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs – and then he led it.

“I headed up the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs which gave a balance in the legal rights between consumers and corporations,” Mr. Turner says.

As John Turner biographer, Paul Litt writes, this “fit with his concern for the rights of the average Canadian in the face of impersonal bureaucracy…”

Litt notes that for Mr. Turner it was “also a matter of social justice; the poor…commonly paid more because they lacked access to consumer choice and got stuck with the highest interest rates.”

Under former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Mr. Turner was appointed minister of justice in 1968 – a post he held for four years. It was during this time that Mr. Turner sponsored Criminal Code reform.

“At the justice department, I established the federal court of Canada,” where trials and hearings were heard across Canada, he says. The court also strengthened the rights of individual defendants on trial. Mr. Turner also got rid of the tradition of party patronage in the appointment of judges. He also set up the Law Reform Commission.

During a key time in Canada’s history, Mr. Turner would also direct the Justice Department under the War Measures Act. He was also minister of finance from 1972-1975.

After years as a successful lawyer, Mr. Turner was convinced to seek the leadership of the Liberal Party in 1984. Mr. Turner won and became prime minister when Mr.  Trudeau left office. Losing to Brian Mulroney in 1984, he nonetheless doubled the Liberal seat count in the next election, in 1988.  He remained Liberal leader and leader of the opposition until 1990. He then retired from politics once again to resume his legal career.

Did You Know?

John Turner is known as Canada’s ‘fastest prime minister,’ for his distinguished athletic record while in university. In the late 1940s, Turner was one of Canada’s top sprinters. In fact, he set the Canadian record in the 100-yard dash, running it in 9.8 seconds in 1947.

The University of British Columbia sprinter also dominated the 100-and-200-yard events. He even qualified for the 1948 London Olympics, but a car accident closed this window of opportunity.

Mr. Turner, a Rhodes Scholar, studied law at Oxford and in 1954 was called to the Quebec Bar.

Click here for original article.

Share

John Turner - Ukraine

By Roderick Benns

Just one decade ago, former Prime Minister John Turner recalls the unforgettable demonstration of democratic power in Ukraine.

After a late November, 2004 election in which most election observers reported massive fraud on the part of the governing party, a re-run of the presidential election occurred about a month later after great Ukrainian and international pressure.

Mr. Turner, now 84, was a key witness to that historic second chance. That’s because then-Prime Minister Paul Martin handpicked Mr. Turner to lead the largest election delegation in Canada’s history, calling him a “tremendous defender of parliamentary democracy.”

Mr. Turner led a 500-person monitoring team under the first-ever mission of the Canada Corps.

“I led the team to Kiev and across Ukraine to patrol Election Day. It was the Orange revolution and it was one of the greatest demonstrations of democracy I have ever witnessed,” Mr. Turner says.

Turner, who still works five days a week in Toronto doing promotional work in energy and the environment, is dismayed at the state Ukraine finds itself in today.

“The last 10 years have been a political tragedy. You have to listen to the people,” Mr. Turner tells Leaders and Legacies.

“Those in charge of political affairs of the country need to open their ears and their eyes and be available to the people – that’s the secret to success.”

Canada was among the first to recognize Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union more than two decades ago. Canada’s connection with Ukraine has been strong, anchored by massive waves of immigration from the country since the turn of the twentieth century under former Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier.

Democracy not an accident

The example of Ukraine’s lost decade in democratic renewal allows Canada’s 17th prime minister to reflect on Canada. Mr. Turner points out that he spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Montreal in 1963 and advocated for free votes in parliament except for budgets and the throne speech.

“I’m also in favour of strong standing committees, in favour of private members bills, and opening up question period,” said Mr. Turner.

Mr. Turner says Canada must stay “an open country” in practice and spirit.

“Democracy does not happen by accident. Citizens need to be active and parliament needs to be open to the people. There has to be political independence in parliament and in the legislature. That means the role of the individual MP has to be established,” said Mr. Turner.

As for more Canadians choosing to get involved in public life and choosing a political career, Mr. Turner says he has been on several committees over 25 years, exploring why young people don’t want to get involved in politics.

“They point to the financial sacrifice, marriage pressure, media pressure on one’s private life, and that the job itself isn’t worth it anymore – that the role of the individual Member of Parliament has diminished.”

Because of all these reasons, says Mr. Turner, “we have to be active in our own democracy” and consider how to bring in new people to renew our institutions.

Click here for original article.

Share

Last year, Canada, along with most of the rest of the world, celebrated the 65th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.  Yom Ha’atzmaut is a modern holiday celebrating the day Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, publicly read Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 17, 1948.

In November 2005, Israel’s then Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, invited the world to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the assassination of its former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.  Representing Canada at this event was former Canadian Prime Minister John N. Turner.

Israel1
Accompanying him to Israel, we met with Ariel Sharon at a special event at the Knesset and stared into those expressive eyes and held his hand in a tight shake that seemed interminable.  We attended numerous state events in Jerusalem, visited the Holy City, prayed at the wailing wall, attended a special session at the Knesset and were given a private tour of the National Museum of Art in Tel Aviv.  It was at this event that Ariel Sharon’s invitation to the world made perfect sense to me.  We were met at the front doors of the museum by media and the curator of the museum, a tall blonde perfectly tanned forty-something year old woman.  She immediately embraced Mr. Turner and invited him on a tour.  He asked her, “…wow, you speak such great English and you’re so blonde, are you Jewish?”  Her answer was even more perfect.  “Yes I’m Jewish, Prime Minister, but even more importantly, I’m Israeli?”

For most people, an opportunity to see a special part of the world like Israel conjures up religious and historic significance.  For us it was recognition that Ariel Sharon, the great political tactician and military strategist, wanted the world to remember the melancholy state of tension in Israel – and it’s surrounding neighbours.

He was a special man with a fervent zeal for the state of Israel and its special place in the world.  His invitation to attend the Rabin event saw hundreds of world leader take the opportunity to be there especially the United States who sent James Baker, Condaleeza Rice and Hilary and Bill Clinton.

Israel2

In his official address to attending world leaders and invitees at the Knesset, Sharon described the special condition of Israel and lectured the world that solutions to the easing tensions in Israel are not easy and are certainly not transparent – but peace is necessary.  It was truly one of his better moments to shine for the world’s media.

We left Israel after an extended stay in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv feeling buoyed about meeting Sharon and by the special relationship Canada shared and continues to share with Israel.  Throughout his career, Turner had been to Israel many times, but never with this much intimacy or understanding of her place in the world.

Shortly after our visit to Israel, we were stunned and shocked by news of Ariel Sharon’s stroke in January of 2006, we thought his personal strength would help him get through it, but for years we wondered.  It was sad to hear that he has died, but for John Turner and me, we believe his legacy is as secure as his fight for peace.- Marc Kealey

Share