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Cahill. Jack.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart,cl984. 234pp, cloth, S19.95, ISBN 0-7710-1872-X.CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Allan S. Evans

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

This book is a "quickie" in the true sense of the word. In February 1984, John Turner was a private citizen working in a prestigious Toronto law firm. A month later, he was a declared candidate for the federal leadership of the Liberal party. On June 16th, he was chosen Liberal leader and, by definition, Prime Minister of Canada. In less than three months, his party had suffered a massive electoral defeat at the hands of Brian Mulroney and had been forced to settle, at least temporarily, for the mantle of Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.

The author obviously felt it necessary and opportune to provide the public with a readable, thorough biography of a man who, though widely known by name and appearance, was still much of a mystery for a person of such position and prominence. He begins by examining the Liberal leadership race of 1968, in which a youthful John Turner distinguished himself with a courageous yet doomed attempt to compete against the steamroller of Trudeaumania. Cahill then goes back to Mr. Turner's family origins and traces his development from childhood to Rhodes scholar, outstanding athlete, gifted lawyer and promising young Member of Parliament in the Pearson government. Next, the author describes in detail his subject's rise through the ranks to cabinet minister, his service in the Trudeau government, the famous resignation in 1975, and his eventual return to politics after almost ten years of a lucrative career in corporate law.

It seems that Cahill had neither the time nor the intention to evaluate the individual whose life he was describing. There are no end notes and precious few analytical comments upon the events depicted. However, in reading between the lines of the narration, it becomes evident that the author has a great respect for his subject. An impression emerges that Turner is much more than a "pretty face" with "star" qualities and a rah-rah macho jock reputation. Cahill makes a strong case for regarding the new Liberal leader as a man of considerable depth, of great compassion and wide experience, a committed patrician with a deep sense of pride in Canada and a sincere wish to serve it well.

Allan S. Evans, Emery C.I., North York, Ont.
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