John Turner: Former Canadian prime minister dies at 91

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
John Turner's tenure as prime minister is the second shortest in Canada's history

Former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner, who was in office for just 79 days and led his Liberal Party to a huge defeat in 1984, has died aged 91.

A lawyer by training, he served as justice and then finance minister from 1968-1975. He resigned after arguments with party leader Pierre Trudeau.

Turner resumed his legal work and nine years later won the party leadership.

He called an election and then presided over what observers say was one of the worst campaigns in Canadian history.

His gaffes combined with growing public fatigue with the Liberals, who had been in power for 20 of the previous 21 years, resulted in his party falling from 135 seats in the 282-member House of Commons to just 40.

The Conservatives, under the leadership of Brian Mulroney, swept to power with 211 seats.

Despite the result, Turner hung onto his post. In the 1988 election, Turner was a strong opponent of a proposed free trade agreement with the US but lost again to Mr Mulroney, but not as badly.

He resigned as a Liberal leader in 1990.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Turner spent years as cabinet minister and Liberal Party leader

As justice minister, he defended reforms to Canada's Criminal Code that paved the way for LGBTQ rights and legal abortions. But in the finance ministry he faced economic pressures due to the global oil crisis.

His 79-day tenure as prime minister is the second shortest in the country's history.

Turner died at home in Toronto on Friday night, Marc Kealey, a former aide speaking on behalf of his relatives told the Montreal Gazette. He is survived by his wife Geills and four children.

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