Elusive Destiny: The Political Vocation of John Napier Turner by Paul Litt

Elusive Destiny: The Political Vocation of John Napier Turner

byPaul Litt

Hardcover | October 21, 2011

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“Going my way?” asked John Turner’s campaign brochure in 1962, “my way is the Liberal way.” It was, that is, until Pierre Trudeau came to power. Turner was his party’s star apprentice in the Liberal art of managing a heterogeneous nation through brokerage politics, but in the 1968 election Canadians opted instead for a newly minted celebrity leader for a re-imagined nation.

Turner played a key role in the Trudeau cabinet as a reform-minded minister of justice and as a highly effective minister of finance during difficult economic times. Universally acknowledged as the heir apparent, he rocked the Liberal party by resigning in 1975. As a private citizen Turner became a mythical figure, a prince in exile whose return would redeem Canadian politics. When he did come back in 1984, winning the Liberal leadership and becoming prime minister, image problems quickly burst the myth, contributing to his party’s catastrophic loss in that year’s federal election. Turner later fought a glorious campaign to preserve Canada’s independence in the 1988 free trade election, only to be brought down by Tory tactics that impugned his motives and character.

A political biography extraordinaire, Elusive Destiny reveals the inner workings of the Liberal Party in its heyday as charted through the meteoric rise and fall of John Napier Turner. It highlights Turner’s vision for the country and tallies the political price he paid when he deviated from the Trudeau legacy on matters such as language rights, social spending, and Quebec. It also provides a new perspective on federal politics from the 1960s through the 1980s while giving John Turner his rightful place in Canadian history.

About The Author

Paul Litt is a historian at Carleton University in Ottawa. His account of John Turner’s political career is based on extensive research in the Turner papers and other archival collections, contemporary journalism, and scores of interviews with Turner's friends, family, and colleagues. He also spent considerable time with Turner himself...
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Details & Specs

Title:Elusive Destiny: The Political Vocation of John Napier TurnerFormat:HardcoverDimensions:536 pages, 9.23 × 6.16 × 1.53 inPublished:October 21, 2011Publisher:Ubc PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0774822643

ISBN - 13:9780774822640

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Foreword by John English

Introduction: The Right Man at the Wrong Time

PART 1: LIBERAL APPRENTICE, 1929-68

1 The Making of an Extrovert

2 Circling Home

3 Getting Ahead in Canadian Politics

4 Shoals of Candidacy

5 Close to Power

PART 2: MASTER POLITICIAN, 1968-79

6 Driving the Omnibus

7 Implementing the Just Society

8 Apprehended Insurrection

9 Intranational Diplomacy

10 Shokku

1 1 The Price of Gas

12 Stalking Stagflation

13 Citizen Turner

PART 3: LEADERSHIP, 1979-88

14 A Myth and a Muddle

15 Oiling the Tinman

16 Prime Minister for a Day

17 Things Fall Apart

18 The Road Back

19 Participatory Democracy

20 Creature from the Black Lagoon

21 Image, Substance, and Subversion

22 Mad Dog and Businessmen

Conclusion: Legacies and Might-Have-Beens

Notes

Selected Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

A political biography extraordinaire, Elusive Destiny reveals the inner workings of the Liberal Party in its heyday as charted through the meteoric rise and fall of John Napier Turner. It highlights Turner’s vision for the country and tallies the political price he paid when he deviated from the Trudeau legacy on matters such as language rights, social spending, and Quebec. It also provides a new perspective on federal politics from the 1960s through the 1980s while giving John Turner his rightful place in Canadian history.This is an important book, presenting not only a former prime minister but also a man who was at the centre of many of the defining issues of the 1980s in Canada, including Meech Lake and the free trade debates. The narrative is compelling and contains rich new material of interest to scholars and general readers alike. Clearly John Turner is a man who found himself in the right place at the wrong time – brought down partly by personal failings, but more significantly by a combination of bad luck and the deliberate acts of rivals. - Brooke Jeffrey, former Liberal adviser and author of Divided Loyalties: The Liberal Party of Canada, 1984-2008