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Posts Tagged ‘John Turner’

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
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

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.


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.


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.

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.


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

Members of the delegation: (left to right) Derrick Snowdy and Marc Kealey of Kealey & Associates Inc., Canadian High Commissioner, Robert Ready, Jamaica’s Consul General to Canada, George Ramocan, and Chairman of the Hitachi Power Systems Canada, Ltd, Howard Shearer.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (3rd right) is seen here with a Canadian delegation that accompanied former Canadian Prime Minister, John Turner (seated) for a meeting on Monday (June 10) at Jamaica House.

Mr Turner told the Prime Minister that Canada stands ready to assist Jamaica with its response to natural disasters and is in the process of organizing a response team. Mrs Simpson Miller in expressing appreciation for this initiative noted that it will strengthen the long standing relations between both countries. She added that Jamaica is taking disaster preparedness seriously ahead of what is predicted to be a very active Hurricane Season.

Background: The former Prime Minister has agreed to serve as patron to the Jamaican Canadian initiative for Disaster Resilience and Response (JCIDRR), a project of the Consulate of Jamaica, Toronto, which seeks to support Jamaica’s objective to develop its capacity against natural and man-made disasters. The visit is in keeping with the beginning of the 2013 Hurricane Season and will help to heighten the importance of the country’s preparedness.

- Marc Kealey

HONORARY CHAIR and patron of the Jamaican Canadian Initiative for Disaster Resilience and Response (JCIDRR), former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner, says Jamaicans and Canadians alike are being mobilised to assist the country in the event of a natural disaster.

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Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter – The Gleaner

The JCIDRR is an organisation established to assist the development of Jamaica’s capacity for disaster resilience and response to minimise the effects of natural disasters.

Turner, who, on Monday, met with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in Kingston, said the organisation is committed to putting in place expertise and financial support to “equip Jamaica with an up-to-date counter-reaction to disaster and avoid the type of situation that Haiti has gone though in the last several years”.

Turner was among several stakeholders who were guests at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum held at the company’s North Street offices on Monday.

“I undertook this role because I wanted to advance the cause of Canadian-Jamaican friendship and the process of shaping a process to anticipate and deal with tragedies such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters that Jamaica and other Caribbean countries face because of geography,” Turner said.

He said the JCIDRR has the support of Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper.

George Ramocan, Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, who played a key role in forming the organisation, said the manner in which response effort was handled in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake brought home the need for a coordinated response to disasters.

“I am aware of the sort of waste and duplication that occurred. Persons were passionate and sincere about helping, but because of the urgency, the disorganisation, the lack of communication, you find that much that was intended to happen for Haiti did not happen,” Ramocan said.

Ramocan told the Editors’ Forum that the JCIDRR would be partnering with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management to respond to disasters.

engage private sector

Howard Shearer, who is the chairman of Hitachi Canada, and a key player in the JCIDRR, said a critical part of disaster mitigation is the engagement of the private sector.

Shearer noted that the private sector did not only exist to make money, but it also has a sense of social responsibility, which must be encouraged. He said that in engaging private sector interest in Canada, through the JCIDRR, to invest in Jamaica, would redound to the benefit of the country’s disaster resilience building.

“Disaster mitigation and resilience is in the self-interest of the private sector,” Shearer argued.

“They have the assets on the ground, they have the critical infrastructure, they know how to execute, they know where the equipment is, they have the contacts globally, they have the logistics,” Shearer said.

Shearer, whose father, Hugh Shearer, was prime minister of Jamaica, stressed that the engagement of the private sector for disaster mitigation would in no way undermine the role of Government.

Read the original article on the Jamaica Gleaner.


FORMER HEAD of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Dr Barbara Carby, says the media must do more to assist the process of disaster mitigation.

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Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter – The Gleaner

Speaking at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Monday, Carby said the media have not been persistent in pushing the issue of the need for a revised building code.

“I am very disappointed with the media in general. You have no problem in donating square metres of column space to other issues, but surely, the matter of the national building code should be at the front of the agenda at some point,” Carby said.

The existing legislative framework for the regulation of building activities in the island is outdated and experts say it impedes effective regulation and development of a modem building sector.

“The development of a modem legislative framework is particularly urgent and relevant in view of the need to reduce the vulnerability of the built environment and ensure public safety and welfare, minimise damage caused by natural or man-made hazards, prevent squatter settlements, and promote sustainable development,” the Memorandum of Objects and Reason of a 2011 bill to enact a building code said.

The bill fell off the order paper and has not yet made it back to Parliament.

stakeholders carrying fight

Carby is adamant that stakeholders, with the exception of the media, have been carrying the fight for the revised code.

“The engineers have done their bit; the disaster risk-reduction people have done their bit,” she said.

“You need to start pushing this thing seriously,” Carby continued, adding that she was in danger of dying before the building code was enacted.

Jamaica does not have a mandatory up-to-date building code. The current code was enacted in 1908, and an updated code published in 1983 as a policy document is not enforceable by law.

Marc Kealey, assistant to former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner, said the Jamaican Canadian Initiative for Disaster Resilience and Response (JCIDRR) presents an opportunity for Jamaica to deal with issues such as the building code.

Howard Shearer, chairman of Hitachi Canada, and a key player in JCIDRR, said the organisation would be utilising the goodwill that exists in Canada for Jamaica. He said that among the aims is to mobilise investment in Jamaica and build the country’s disaster resilience capacity.

“We have to focus our efforts and focus our leaders and bring the community together because the end result is saving lives,” Shearer said.

Read the original article on the Jamaica Gleaner.


The Right Honourable John N. Turner

Read the full article on the Winnipeg Free Press

- Marc Kealey