Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
Key Players: 1968-1978 Key Players: 1958–1968 Key Players: 1968-1978 Key Players: 1978-1988

John Turner

Born in Richmond, England in 1929, John Napier Turner arrived in Canada in 1932 when his Canadian-born mother returned, following her husband’s death, to find work as the only female economist on Prime Minister R. B. Bennett’s tariff board. After studying at Ashbury College, Turner completed his B.A. at the University of British Columbia in 1949 and a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, where he received law degrees in 1951 and 1952 and an M.A. in 1957. Returning to Canada to practise law in Montréal, he was called to the bar in 1954 and entered politics in 1962. He held several Cabinet posts, including Minister of Justice (1968–1972) during the October Crisis and Minister of Finance (1972–1975). Firmly pro-business, Turner opposed the government’s attempts to create a “just society” through expensive social programs that exceeded Canada’s revenues. Instead, Turner focused on fighting unemployment and inflation by seeking a voluntary consensus among government, business and labour to limit wages and spending increases. Failing to achieve this, and frustrated by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s lack of support, Turner resigned from Cabinet in September 1975 — to the dismay of his supporters in the Liberal Party and the business community. Turner’s attempts to limit social spending were another example of the continuing conflict generated by medicare’s growing costs and the government’s limited resources.

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    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010