State funeral for former PM John Turner to be held with pandemic restrictions

TORONTO — Former Liberal prime minister John Turner is being laid to rest in Toronto today.

A state funeral will precede the internment.

About 170 invited guests are expected to attend the funeral at the recently renovated St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica.

Organizers have limited the guest list in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Turner died at age 91 on Sept. 19.

Marc Kealey, a former aide speaking on behalf of Turner’s relatives as a family friend, told the Canadian Press that Turner died peacefully in his sleep at home.

He had spent decades in politics, serving as solicitor general and justice and finance ministers before his brief stint as prime minister in 1984. Turner governed for just 79 days in the summer after a difficult, decades-long climb to the top job.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute to Turner in the House of Commons days after his death.

“Today we remember him as a House of Commons man, a strong advocate for equality and a champion of our democracy,” the prime minister said.

“He used to say that democracy doesn’t happen by accident. He was right,” Trudeau said.

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

Deputy Conservative leader Candice Bergen said it is clear from the stories about him that Turner cared about individual Canadians, not just those he met in the corridors of power.

“Stories this week have been set in airplanes, taverns, church basements and coffee shops — stories of a man who took the extra time to know their stories and to remember their names,” she said.

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