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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

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Prime Minister’s remarks paying tribute to the Right Honourable John N. Turner


Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with a heavy heart that I rise today in this House to pay tribute to the late Right Honourable John Turner, Canada’s 17th Prime Minister.

I knew John my whole life, and he believed fiercely in the values that make us who we are as Canadians.

Values like treating everyone with dignity and respect. And always being willing to stand up for what is just and right. 

Today, we remember him as a House of Commons man – a strong advocate for equality and a champion of our democracy.  

Mr. Speaker, we live in a wonderful country, and it is thanks in part to people like John Turner.

John’s commitment to democracy started very early in his life. When he was young, his mother taught him the importance of public service.   

Throughout his career – first as a lawyer and later as a politician – he always demonstrated grace and humility.

John treated everyone with dignity and respect. No matter how busy he was, he never forgot anyone’s birthday. 

As an MP, John had the privilege of serving three different provinces.

His tremendous knowledge of the law and the democratic process led him to make major changes to the Criminal Code.

His work as Minister of Justice paved the way for legal aid in Canada, to ensure that everyone’s rights were recognized – no matter their economic or cultural profile.

These changes have transformed the lives of millions of Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, when talking about John, it’s easy to see how much he loved Canada.

John always spoke of his country with great hope and optimism.

To him, Canada is a country where we help each other and we respect each other. A country where equality is a way of life.

It was just last year that John was on the Hill to celebrate his 90th birthday with people from across the political spectrum. And I remember how he was still passionate about strengthening our democratic institutions.

He used to say that “democracy doesn’t happen by accident.”

He was right.

John knew that keeping our democracy strong and free meant we needed to put in the hard work to keep it that way.

He believed in the incredible power of young people to get involved in our democratic process, and encouraged them to do that, wherever he could. 

John knew Canadians, regardless of age or background, formed the heart of our country, and that our future depended on all of us working together, for everyone.

Today, as we mourn his loss and reflect on his legacy, let’s all remember our ability to give back to our own communities.

To his wife Geills, their children Elizabeth, Michael, David, and Andrew, to John’s grandchildren, his sister Brenda Norris, and brother-in-law David Kilgour – your husband, loving father, and brother was a great Canadian.

We are all so lucky you shared him with us.

To my fellow Canadians, I invite you to join us in signing the virtual book of condolences.   

And together, let us continue to work to defend and strengthen our democracy, and as John once said, “let’s not take this country for granted.”

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.