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Outspoken former federal politician John Crosbie dead at 88 – National Post



ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — John Crosbie, a former federal cabinet minister who was known as much for his sharp wit as for his politics, has died at the age of 88.

His death early Friday followed a period of declining health that saw an outpouring of support from both politicians and average citizens.

“We are heartbroken to share the news that John C. Crosbie has passed away at the age of 88,” a family statement read, according to NTV.


“To Jane, he was the love of her life, as she was his. To us as kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, he was simply dad, granddad, great-granddad – our bedrock of support. To Newfoundland and Labrador and to Canada, he was an independent spirit, a passionate nation builder, an orator of biting wit and charm, and always — forever — a tireless fighter for the people.”

“It is consoling to know that our father, who dedicated his life to serving our province and country, is beloved throughout Newfoundland and Labrador and across Canada,” his eldest son, Ches Crosbie, said in a statement on Thursday.

I cannot talk to the Chinese people in their own language either

Crosbie, who was perhaps best known as an outspoken fisheries minister under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, was born to a political family in pre-Confederation St. John’s in 1931. He was an exemplary student, graduating with honours from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., and Dalhousie Law School in Halifax.

He entered politics in 1965 as a city councillor in St. John’s. Within a year, he was appointed to the cabinet of Liberal Premier Joey Smallwood and shortly afterwards was elected to the legislature.

John Crosbie pictured with former Newfoundland Premier Kathy Dunderdale at a cabinet swearing-in.

Keith Gosse/The Telegram

After a dispute with Smallwood over the leadership of the party in 1969, Crosbie crossed the floor to join the Opposition Progressive Conservative party led by Frank Moores. The Conservatives were elected to govern in 1972, and Crosbie held a number of cabinet positions before deciding to run federally in 1976.

As finance minister in the short-lived minority government of Prime Minister Joe Clark, he brought in a tough budget containing tax increases in 1979, and the government fell on a motion of non-confidence after less than nine months in office.

I didn’t take the fish from the God damned water!

“Long enough to conceive, just not long enough to deliver,” Crosbie quipped at the time.

He ran for the party’s leadership in 1983 but, hurt by his inability to speak French, he lost to Brian Mulroney.

Questioned about his unilingualism, Crosbie shot back, “I cannot talk to the Chinese people in their own language either.”

Mulroney became prime minister in 1984 and Crosbie was named justice minister. In an exchange in the House of Commons in 1985, Crosbie told Liberal MP Sheila Copps to “Just quiet down, baby,” prompting Copps to reply, “I’m nobody’s baby.”

John Crosbie wearing a seal skin hat and jacket at Government House in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Tuesday April 13, 2010.

Peter Kuitenbrouwer/National Post

He riled Copps again in 1990 during a fundraiser in Victoria, B.C., saying Copps made him think of the song lyrics, “Pass the tequila, Sheila, and lie down and love me again.” The sexist quip was caught on camera, sparking an uproar. Crosbie later acknowledged the comment was “ill-considered.”

He later said he and Copps played up their squabbles for mutual gain. “She’s a professional politician, and I was as well,” he said in 2011. “We’re good pals now. We’re very friendly, and she’s married to a Newfoundlander, so she’s a fine woman as far as I’m concerned.”

During his time in the Mulroney government, he was one of the most vocal proponents of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

Crosbie’s final cabinet post was as fisheries minister, and he oversaw the closure of the cod fishery in Atlantic Canada — a move that put thousands of people in his home province out of work.

Defending himself in front of protesting Newfoundland fishermen in 1992, shortly before he announced the fishing moratorium, Crosbie said, ”I didn’t take the fish from the God damned water!“

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Boris Johnson’s bombshell exit from Parliament leaves UK politics reeling



LONDON (AP) — Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson left chaos in his wake Saturday after quitting Parliament with a blast at fellow lawmakers he accused of ousting him in a “witch hunt.”

As opponents jeered, the Conservative government absorbed the shock of yet another Johnson earthquake, while a band of loyal supporters insisted Britain’s divisive ex-leader could still make a comeback. Two Johnson allies joined him in quitting the House of Commons, piling pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Less than a year after he was forced out as prime minister by his own Conservative Party, Johnson unexpectedly stepped down as a lawmaker late Friday — “at least for now,” he said in a self-justifying resignation statement.


Johnson quit after being told he will be sanctioned for misleading Parliament over “partygate,” a series of rule-breaking gatherings in the prime minister’s office during the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson was among scores of people fined by police over late-night soirees, boozy parties and “wine time Fridays” that broke restrictions the government had imposed on the country.

Johnson has acknowledged misleading Parliament when he assured lawmakers that no rules had been broken, but he said he didn’t do so deliberately, genuinely believing the gatherings were legitimate work events.

A standards committee investigating him appears to see things differently. Johnson quit after receiving the report of the Privileges Committee, which has not yet been made public. Johnson faced suspension from the House of Commons if the committee found he had lied deliberately.

Johnson, 58, called the committee “a kangaroo court” that was determined to “drive me out of Parliament.”

“Their purpose from the beginning has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts,” Johnson said.

The committee, which has a majority Conservative membership, said Johnson had “impugned the integrity” of the House of Commons with his attack. It said it would meet Monday “to conclude the inquiry and to publish its report promptly.”

The resignation will trigger a special election to replace Johnson as a lawmaker for a suburban London seat in the House of Commons. Two allies of Johnson, Nadine Dorries and Nigel Adams, also quit, sparking three near-simultaneous by-elections — an unwanted headache for Sunak.

Johnson is a charismatic and erratic figure whose career has seen a series of scandals and comebacks. The rumpled, Latin-spouting populist with a mop of blond hair has held major offices but also spent periods on the political sidelines before Britain’s exit from the European Union propelled him to the top.

A champion of Brexit, Johnson led the Conservatives to a landslide victory in 2019 and took Britain out of the EU the following year. But he became mired in scandals over his ethics and judgment, and was forced out as prime minister by his own party in mid-2022.

By quitting Parliament, he avoids a suspension that could have seen him ousted from his Commons seat by his constituents, leaving him free to run for Parliament again in future. His resignation statement suggested he was mulling that option. It was highly critical of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who served as Treasury chief in Johnson’s government before jumping ship with many other colleagues in July 2022 — resignations that forced Johnson out as prime minister.

Conservative poll ratings went into decline during the turbulent final months of Johnson’s term and have not recovered. Opinion polls regularly put the opposition Labour Party 20 points or more ahead. A national election must be held by the end of 2024.

“Just a few years after winning the biggest majority in almost half a century, that majority is now clearly at risk,” Johnson said in a statement that sounded like a leadership pitch. “Our party needs urgently to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do.”

Johnson allies expressed hope that the former prime minister was not finished. Conservative lawmaker John Redwood said Johnson “has made it very clear that he doesn’t regard this as the end of his involvement in British politics.”

But many others questioned whether a politician who has often seemed to defy political gravity could make yet another comeback.

Others compared Johnson to Donald Trump, who has similarly claimed persecution by a host of enemies after being indicted on federal charges over his hoarding of classified documents after leaving office.

“It all feels very Trumpian,” said Will Walden, who worked for Johnson when he was mayor of London and U.K. foreign secretary.

“He has one song to play, and that is ‘I was robbed,”‘ Walden told Sky News.

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, said Johnson often drew inspiration from his political hero, Winston Churchill, who led Britain to victory in World War II only to be ousted from power in 1945 — and then to return to office several years later.

“I believe that he thinks that he can spend some time in … the wilderness before the Conservative Party and the country calls upon him once again in its hour of need,” Bale said.

“Frankly, I think that is unlikely. I think partygate has ensured that he is toxic as far as many voters are concerned. And I think the way he has behaved over the last two or three days — and some people will say over the last two or three years — probably means that most of his colleagues would rather he disappeared in a puff of smoke.”



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Unmarked graves: Lawmakers should act now, Murray says



Ahead of the release of her interim report on progress as Canada’s special interlocutor on unmarked graves at former residential schools, Kimberly Murray says lawmakers at all levels of government shouldn’t be waiting for her findings to act.

Citing examples of gaps she’s already identified, such as the drawn-out process to obtain records and the various approvals needed to access privately-owned land for ceremonies and searches, Murray said there’s a lot that governments could be doing now, as she continues her work.

“I speak a little bit about this in the interim report, about some of the things like waiving fees for records for communities to be able to access information,” Murray told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos in an interview. “We don’t need to wait to the end of my mandate to make some changes and put some things in place.”

A series of devastating discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential schools in Canada over the last two years reinvigorated calls to action. This prompted the federal government to appoint Murray to work with Indigenous people and make recommendations to strengthen federal laws and practices to protect and preserve unmarked burial sites.


Murray was also asked to help Indigenous communities weave through jurisdictional and legal hurdles at burial sites, and facilitate dialogue with relevant governments and institutions, including churches. Murray’s appointment also included plans to address issues around the identification and protection of unmarked graves, including the repatriation of remains.

Murray is set to table an interim report on her progress on June 16, marking a year since she assumed the role.

She told Kapelos that her coming report will highlight additional areas of concern identified by survivors and communities about the barriers they’re facing in trying to find their children, from costs associated with accessing documentation, to the need for legislative reform.

“It shouldn’t take 50 years to find out where your child is buried,” Murray said. “And we write about a couple of examples in our interim report that’s coming out.”

“It’s just terrible that families are having to go through this to determine what happened to their child,” she said.

Watch the full interview with Murray, in the video player above.



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Politics roundup: David Johnston, budget tactics and byelections –



Front Burner

From foreign interference to attempts to block the budget, we dive into some of the top stories simmering in Ottawa, in the final couple weeks before MPs break for the summer.

Members of Parliament are just a couple weeks away from their summer break, but the issues swirling around Ottawa are still ramping up. (Michel Aspirot/CBC)


Front Burner25:04Politics roundup: David Johnston, budget tactics and byelections

MPs have just a couple weeks before Parliament is set to break for the summer, but there’s still a lot going on in Ottawa. David Johnston continues to fend off calls to step aside as special rapporteur on foreign interference, Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre is signalling Conservatives will continue to protest the Liberals’ budget in the Senate, despite its passage in the House of Commons, and the People’s Party of Canada leader is trying to make his return to the Parliament.

On this episode, guest host Saroja Coelho dives into the top political stories with Catherine Cullen, host of the CBC political podcast, The House.

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