John Crosbie will be remembered for many things. From his unprecedented victories politically at all levels of government during elections to his famous battles with everyone from Joey Smallwood to anyone and everyone who thought being political meant you had to be politically correct either inside parliament or outside of those hallowed halls – Crosbie was, and will forever be known as one of our Fighting Newfoundlanders.
His book, No Holds Barred: My Life in Politics made famous his fists-up pose, one he struck again for the camera many times when I had the pleasure to be in his company. But it’s not the cod moratorium and his ‘‘I didn’t take the fish from the God damn water’’ 1982 quote or his ‘‘pass the tequila, Sheila (and) lay down and love me again’’ quip made towards then Liberal Opposition MP Sheila Copps in February of 1990 that he’ll be remembered for in my eyes.
An inseparable bond
I first interviewed Mr. Crosbie in 2013 when he was Lieutenant Governor, sitting down with both he and his wife Jane for a chat, not on politics, but on their enduring romance in the days leading up to Valentines.
Theirs was a special bond, they shared, one that began as children. The two shared a school for a time, and when they met again later as teenagers, Jane recalled teasingly that her husband had been ‘‘a bit of a loud mouth’’ even then, and she had found him less than appealing, though he certainly stood out in her memory. John, in the summer of 1948, redeemed himself, being the first one to fill out Jane’s dance card for her very first dance. The two were pretty much inseparable after that.
They had a special relationship, one that was more than apparent when in their company. The two shared a dance near the piano the day we visited in ‘13. Jane, dressed as always to the nines, gently teased her man for his choice of attire that day – sweat pants. He took the kidding good-naturedly. In fine Crosbie style, he refused to change. Always classy, Crosbie sent a letter of gratitude after that sit-down, one to be treasured.
Besides our sit down at Government House, I again had the pleasure of interview Crosbie at his home in February of 2018, leading up to that year’s anniversary of Confederation. While in declining health, Crosbie’s memory was sharp when it came to the past, and he had, as always, delightful tales to tell.
Jane stayed close that day, beaming with obvious pride at her husband’s clarity and at his relevance when it came to so much of this province’s history.
Their love for one another was written over both of their faces. What I’ll remember most from that day, besides seeing their obvious adoration for one another, was the words Jane spoke to me on my way out. ‘‘He loved politics so much, I should have let him rot in office.’’
From the exchanges I was blessed to have with the two over the years, I’m confident in saying that he loved her much more than he loved politics.
To the love of John’s life, Jane, thank you, from the bottom of all our hearts, for sharing your husband with us all so generously.
To John Crosbie, thank you for all you did for this province. Besides all you gave and all you accomplished from municipal to province to your time on the federal stage, you made being a politician really supremely cool.
Farewell good sir. May you rest in peace. You’ve certainly earned it.