Nfld. & Labrador

Quebec premier raises eyebrows with jab at Ches Crosbie after father's death

Dwight Ball laughed as François Legault made a joke at the younger Crosbie's expense, two days after the death of his father.

Ball, Legault apologize for joke comparing late John Crosbie to son

Quebec premier François Legault says he wanted to express his respect for the late John Crosbie and made 'a bad joke' at Ches Crosbie's expense. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The premiers from Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador are apologizing for a quip about Ches Crosbie, just two days after the death of his father.

François Legault and Dwight Ball met in St. John's on Sunday ahead of a week of meetings for Atlantic premiers.

The Quebec premier began by expressing condolences for the loss of longtime politician John Crosbie, who is the father of Ches Crosbie, Opposition leader in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"He was a very good speaker. His son is not as great," Legault said before looking at Ball, who began to laugh. "No, it's a joke."


Quebec premier makes a joke about Ches Crosbie, days after his father's death 0:59

The Progressive Conservative caucus issued a statement on Monday morning, sticking up for its leader.

"We were shocked and disappointed to hear the comments directed towards the leader of the Official Opposition while he is mourning the death of his father. Both premiers should apologize," a caucus spokesperson wrote.

Both men apologized less than an hour after the statement went out, prior to the start of the premiers' meeting.

"I apologize for my reaction last night," Ball said. "To compare anyone at this table, any modern-day politician to John Crosbie and the figure that he was, both provincially and nationally, is unfair to any of us.… The bar is way too high for any modern politician to measure themselves by."

Legault followed up, saying he wanted to convey his respect for the elder Crosbie.

"He was one of the best speakers, and I just wanted to say that his son is different and making a joke, a bad joke, to help my friend Dwight with his opposition. It wasn't the right joke."

The caucus spokesperson declined further comment Monday morning, saying they were focused on supporting their friend and leader instead.

John Crosbie died Friday morning at the age of 88. He started out his career as a St. John's city councillor before moving to provincial politics and eventually to federal politics.

He was a fiery representative of the province who spoke his mind regardless of the consequences.

One of the biggest drawbacks for his son has been an acknowledged lack of charisma. Despite that, he's accomplished something his father never could — he became a party leader.

Several people took issue with Legault's comment at the younger Crosbie's expense, and Ball's reaction to the joke.

Both premiers will be answering questions later Monday morning.

A press conference will be held later in the day, with Premier Dennis King of Prince Edward Island, Premier Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick and Premier Stephen McNeil of Nova Scotia.

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