John Turner's long run to the Liberal party leadership

Almost twenty years since he first tried for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, John Turner has taken another run at the title. On June 16, 1984, he becomes all at once leader and prime minister designate.

'Now' wasn't as soon as Turner had hoped -- he would wait 16 years to become Liberal leader

John Turner wins the Liberal leadership in 1984

39 years ago
Duration 2:44
It was a long time coming, but John Turner has become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

On June 16, 1984, John Turner becomes, on a second-ballot win, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. It has been a long time coming, and it's not the first time he has had his name on the party ballot.

In December 1967, prime minister Lester Pearson announced his resignation from politics, triggering a convention to find his replacement.

Presenting himself as the voice of Canada's younger generation, leadership contender Turner takes the stage in April 1968 — shown in the television clip below — to utter these prophetic words: "I'm not just in this race so you will remember my name at some future date … I'm not bidding now for your consideration at some vague convention in 1984."

"My time is now," Turner tells his fellow Liberals. 

John Turner in 1968: 'My time is now'

4 years ago
Duration 2:56
John Turner, up against

He was up against a most formidable opponent, Pierre Trudeau, the other up-and-coming, youthful contender. It took four ballots for Trudeau to win the leadership — a position he would hold for the next 16 years. 

As prime minister, Trudeau would later appoint Turner to two prestigious cabinet posts, justice and finance. 

But Turner announced his resignation from the latter post in September of 1976 and resigned altogether from politics the following February. 

He joined a Toronto law firm and it was not until Trudeau announced his own resignation that he was lured back into public life and another attempt at the party leadership. 

This time, Turner wins the leadership, after eight years out of politics. On June 18, 1984, he finds himself back in the House of Commons, celebrating his win from the gallery. Twelve days later, he is sworn in as the 17th prime minister of Canada. 

His time in that role is short-lived, however, as his party loses the Sept. 4 election in a landslide victory by Brian Mulroney and the Progressive Conservatives.

John Turner would lead his party through the 1984 and 1988 elections. But he would never again serve as prime minister, after the Brian Mulroney-led Progressive Conservatives came to power. (Jon Murray/Canadian Press)

Turner stayed on as Liberal leader and would lead his party through another federal election. But he would never be prime minister again.