WWF-Canada mourns the loss of a great Canadian with the passing of John Napier Turner, former Prime Minister and WWF-Canada’s director from 1992 to 2003.
“Mr. Turner had a genuinely deep feeling for the beauty and geography of our country,” said Monte Hummel, WWF-Canada’s current president emeritus and CEO during John Turner’s service on the board. “As with so many things, he was busy behind-the-scenes and instrumental in positive changes for nature — far beyond what is on the public record.”
It was Turner, for example, who sat down in a private meeting with then-Ontario premier Ernie Eaves and persuaded him to donate the lakebed of western Lake Superior to create the largest protected freshwater reserve in the world. Turner later stood side-by-side with the Gwichʼin First Nations of Yukon to protect the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou herd in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge when that area was first proposed to be opened to oil and gas drilling.
Mr. Turner also supported a legal appeal to the federal court to help obtain funding for the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy that resulted in the protecting over 20 million hectares within the Mackenzie River watershed.
“John Turner’s two abiding concerns were always water and the north,” said Megan Leslie, president and CEO of WWF-Canada. “He came by those concerns honestly, from personally paddling many of Canada’s largest wild rivers — often with his family— to renegotiating the Columbia Water Treaty as one of his first assignments as a newly-elected Member of Parliament in the early 1960s. John remained consistently concerned about the fate of Canada’s freshwater through the North American Free Trade Agreement and enlisted the International Joint Commission’s efforts to ensure Lake of the Woods, an historic area near the U.S. border, remains healthy.”
Hummel counted Turner as a personal friend as well as a professional colleague in conservation.
“We travelled together often, even dog-sledded on Great Slave Lake. I remember him saying that Canada is one of the last places in the world where you can still hear your own heartbeat in winter. John loved our country for all the right reasons, and I’ll miss him dearly. All Canadians have lost one of nature’s true patriots and protectors.”
At the request of his family, WWF-Canada is accepting donations to honour John Turner. If you wish to give a gift in his memory, you can do so here.