Nfld. & Labrador

Crosbie assumes vice-regal role in N.L.

John Crosbie, a former politician known for a fiery speaking style and a rapier wit, was sworn in Monday as Newfoundland and Labrador's lieutenant-governor.

John Crosbie, a former politician known for a fiery speaking style and a rapier wit, was sworn in Monday as Newfoundland and Labrador's lieutenant-governor.

Crosbie acknowledged he is taking on a role that runs contrary to the style that brought him political fame.

"I have known, as all politicians learn, victory and defeat, the peaks and valleys of success and failure, and I've never regretted any of it," Crosbie said in an address.

"What's the point of being around if you don't give your opinions, whether anyone wants to hear them or not? I never gave a darn whether they wanted to hear them or not, I'll tell you that," he said.

"My partisan days have now ended, but my respect for politicians and the political process, and those who engage in that process, is as great as ever."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Crosbie's appointment in December.

Crosbie, whose political career started at St. John's city council and went to the federal cabinet table, has admitted that serving as the Queen's representative will mean a change.

"I just have to be careful not to make any ... partisan comments or get involved in partisan politics in any way," Crosbie said in an interview last month.

"I understand that, and I approve of it greatly."

Sworn in by Wells

Crosbie, 77, was sworn in by Clyde Wells, the province's chief justice, in a moment that provided a remarkable bookend for the careers of both men.

Four decades ago, Crosbie and Wells were rebels in then-premier Joey Smallwood's Liberal cabinet. The two broke with Smallwood over a deal to develop the Come By Chance oil refinery, and the split helped spell the end of Smallwood's grip on power.

Wells became premier in 1989, after working as a lawyer in private practice for many years.

Crosbie, unlike Wells, left the Liberals and helped bring the Progressive Conservatives to provincial power in 1972. He jumped to federal politics in 1976, unsuccessfully sought the national party leadership in 1983 and became a key minister in Brian Mulroney's government. He was also finance minister in Joe Clark's short-lived 1979-1980 government.

Crosbie retired from federal politics in 1993 but has maintained a profile in the years since, sometimes offering withering criticism of politicians or policies that crossed him. He also served as chancellor of Memorial University.

Premier Danny Williams admitted "speculation was rampant" for months about who would be appointed lieutenant-governor.

"But there is one figure in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador, and of Canada, whose contribution is eclipsed by no others," said Williams.

"We've always been proud to say he is one of our own, and one of our best."

Crosbie, who has clashed with the combative Williams at times, responded to the premier's praise with a joke.

"Believe me, I have never plotted this in my career path, but I'm delighted I had the opportunity to come and listen to the premier today, as I believe I just heard what was [the] best speech of his career," Crosbie said.

Crosbie succeeds Ed Roberts, a lawyer and former Liberal party leader who sat in the legislature for almost 22 years.