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John Turner remembered as principled politician, loyal friend, great Canadian – CBC.ca

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Former prime minister John Turner was honoured as a principled politician, a loyal friend and a passionate protector of the environment today as family, friends and dignitaries gathered in Toronto for a scaled-back state funeral.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told mourners Turner was a “great Canadian” who fought tirelessly to protect the environment and to build a more just Canada.

He recalled how Turner said that democracy doesn’t happen by accident.

“He knew we could rise to any challenge, and meet any moment, if we believed in one another and stood together,” he said.

“Today, more than ever, we need people like John. His legacy calls on us to not wait for change to happen, but to stand up and build a better country for everyone.”

Turner died Sept. 19 at age 91.

Due to the pandemic, public health protocols — including mask wearing, sanitizing and physical distancing — were followed at the church service at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica.

There will be no public lying-in-state for public viewing and the church service was by invitation only.

Former prime minister John Turner stands in front of a portrait of himself on Parliament Hill in September 2004. He was honoured as a principled politician and a great Canadian at a state funeral today. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Turner’s friend Richard Alway told the gathering the former prime minister had a pragmatic and conciliatory style that served him well as he dealt with the provinces on constitutional matters, advanced major justice reforms and sold official bilingualism to western premiers.

Alway said Turner took deep pride in his efforts to introduce legal aid to make the justice system more accessible, and in his work on changes to the judicial appointment process to ensure selections are made on merit rather than political ties.

“One looks to our south today to see the value of that reform,” he said.

Turner had ‘a gift for friendship’

Alway recalled how Turner’s private life was focused on family, friends and faith.

“He had a positive personality and a gift for friendship. And his friends are legion,” he said.

Turner was also remembered for his accomplishments as a champion sprinter and swimmer and for his efforts to protect the environment.

“I think John Turner’s wilderness identity contributed much to the granite resolve and clarity of purpose that made him one of the great leaders of this nation,” said friend Michael de Pencier in a tribute.

Daughter Elizabeth Turner said her father loved nature and the outdoors, and when people complained about the weather he would ask: “Are you a Canadian or a tourist?”

‘Grace and dignity’

She said he was kind to everyone he met, from barbers to restaurant waiters.

“John Turner believe in taking the high road. He set an incredible example, whether struggling with back issues in the 1984 and 1988 campaigns, addressing negative commentary from the press, or dealing with spiteful treatment from his own party members,” she said.

“He handled himself with great grace and dignity.”

WATCH / John Turner’s daughter reflects on the former PM’s life

Elizabeth Turner addressed the state funeral for her father, former prime minister John Turner, at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto. 2:13

Before the ceremony, former governor general David Johnston called Turner a man of “integrity, civility and practicality.”

Former Progressive Conservative prime minister and cabinet minister Kim Campbell said she didn’t always agree with Turner but she always respected him. Calling him a remarkable Canadian, she said he had a decency about him that was widely admired.

Former Liberal cabinet minister Ralph Goodale called Turner a “wonderful friend” who was always helpful. He recalled how Turner kept track of his friends’ birthdays and would call them with best wishes on their special day.

“That loyalty is one thing a lot of people will remember John for,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledges Geills Turner, wife of John Turner, during the state funeral service for the former Canadian prime minister at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica in Toronto on Tuesday, October 6, 2020. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

CBC is broadcasting special live coverage of the ceremony, hosted by Rosemary Barton, which began at 10 a.m. ET on CBC News Network, CBC.ca, CBC Gem, the CBC News app YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

St. Michael’s can hold up to 1,600 people. Because of pandemic restrictions, however, only about 160 guests, chosen by the former prime minister’s family, have been invited to the funeral. The burial will take place in private and no reception will follow the church service.

John McDermott sang Amazing Grace as guests entered with staggered arrivals, but the service did not include congregational singing due to COVID-19 protocols.

The family has asked that, instead of flowers, donations be made to the World Wildlife Fund Canada and the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation.

Past state funerals have included public processions in the streets of Ottawa and periods of lying in state — usually in Parliament — to give Canadians an opportunity to pay their final respects.

State funerals are rare. Only 31 state funerals have been held in Canada since Confederation in 1867, including 12 for prime ministers, seven for governors general and eight for cabinet ministers.

The last state funeral for a Canadian prime minister was for Pierre Trudeau in 2000.

Three other members of Parliament have been given state funerals: the assassinated Thomas D’Arcy McGee in 1868 and, more recently, NDP leader Jack Layton and former finance minister Jim Flaherty.

The government announced the national flags on the Peace Tower and all federal buildings and establishments in Canada will fly at half-mast to honour Turner’s memory. Flags will be at half-mast until the sunset on the day of his funeral.

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As Trump weakens rules insulating civil servants from politics, an official resigns in protest. – The New York Times

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The head of a federal panel that advises the White House on compensation issues resigned on Monday to protest President Trump’s new executive order that could wipe out employment protections for tens of thousands of federal workers.

Ronald P. Sanders, the chairman of the Federal Salary Council, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in 2017, said that the new executive order would replace “political expertise with political obeisance.”

The order, signed last week, gives Mr. Trump and his political appointees the power to hire and fire certain federal civil servants who now hold jobs that are supposed to be exempt from political influence.

“The Executive Order is nothing more than a smokescreen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the President, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process,” Mr. Sanders, who called himself a lifelong Republican, wrote in his resignation letter, dated today and sent to the White House. “I have concluded that as a matter of conscience, I can no longer serve him or his administration.”

The president’s executive order has already provoked protests by federal labor unions and some Democrats in Congress. If Mr. Trump is not re-elected, the next administration could repeal the measure.

Mr. Sanders wrote of civil servants, “The only ‘boss’ that they serve is the public,” adding, “No president should be able to remove career civil servants whose only sin is that they may speak such a truth to him.” The board Mr. Sanders resigned from is made up of experts in labor relations and representatives of federal labor unions.

A White House official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The White House, in a statement that accompanied the executive order, said the new employee classification was justified because under current rules “removing poor performers, even from these critical positions, is time-consuming and difficult.”

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Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – Trail Times

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Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

READ MORE: Companies warn Tory motion could deter domestic production of PPE

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


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Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – Alberni Valley News

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Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

READ MORE: Companies warn Tory motion could deter domestic production of PPE

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


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