Nfld. & Labrador

Tory stalwart Jack Byrne dead at 57

Jack Byrne, a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, died Wednesday in St. John's. He was 57.

Jack Byrne, a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, died Wednesday in St. John's. He was 57.

Byrne had served in Newfoundland and Labrador's legislature since 1993, representing Cape St. Francis, a district covering a string of coastal communities north of St. John's. He had been ailing for several months with an undisclosed condition.

He had been treated during the 1990s for a tumour on his pituitary gland.

Byrne had served as minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs during the first term of the Danny Williams government, and was well known as a strong constituency representative in his district, formerly known as St. John's East-Extern. In the 2007 election, Byrne received 78 per cent of the votes cast in his district.

Byrne, a professional surveyor who had been the mayor of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, jumped to provincial politics in 1993.

For the first decade of his career in the house of assembly, Byrne helped the Tories survive in Opposition — including a Liberal near-sweep in 1996, when only a handful of PCs were able to push back the Brian Tobin juggernaut.

Byrne was able, though, to see the political pendulum eventually switch from red to blue, and was appointed to cabinet after Williams and the Tories swept to power in 2003.

After the landslide victory in last October's general election, though, Byrne was not returned to cabinet. He had been serving most recently as deputy speaker.