The Sunday Magazine

John Crosbie: Remembering a larger-than-life Canadian political figure

John Crosbie, who died on Friday, was one of the most prominent and trusted — and certainly most colourful — cabinet members of Brian Mulroney's governments and served as the Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland from 2008 to 2013. We’ll pay tribute with excerpts from Michael’s 1997 interview with him.
The late John Crosbie in March 2011. As Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, he was inspecting the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary before delivering the provincial speech from the throne. (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)

John Crosbie, one of Canada's most opinionated, outspoken and memorable politicians, died on Jan. 10 at the age of 88.

He first held public office in 1965 as a city councillor in St. John's, N.L. Crosbie quickly moved into provincial politics as a cabinet minister under former premier Joey Smallwood, then walked onto the federal political stage. Near the end of his career, he served as lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He had an astute intellect — having studied political science at Queen's University and graduated as a lawyer from Dalhousie University — but Crosbie was not known for his diplomacy. His shoot-from-the-hip style made him an entertaining speaker, but also got him into hot water more than once.

He was a man of contrasts: he started his political life as a card-carrying Liberal and then switched to the Conservative Party. As minister of justice, he promoted more women to the bench than any of his predecessors and believed in a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, yet he didn't like feminists. He was a champion of his home province; but, as minister of fisheries and oceans, he closed the cod fishery, the industry that was the lifeblood of Newfoundland's economy.

In a personal tribute posted on this page, The Sunday Edition host Michael Enright remembers his encounters with John Crosbie and shares excerpts of one of their conversations.

Click 'listen' above to hear the full tribute.


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