John Crosbie remembered as patriot, 'indomitable' force at state funeral
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- John Crosbie was remembered at his state funeral Thursday as a patriot who played a key role shaping Canada.
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney delivered a eulogy highlighting Crosbie's contributions as a minister in his Tory cabinet, alluding to his famous sense of humour but also his devotion to his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
"And so we say goodbye today, au revoir, to the Hon. John Crosbie -- patriot, senior cabinet minister, devoted partner to his beloved Jane," Mulroney told mourners at the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in St. John's, N.L.
He remembered Crosbie as a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather but also an "indomitable defender of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and a proud Canadian who served his country with high distinction, unblemished integrity and unprecedented achievement."
"No one -- no one -- could ask for more," Mulroney concluded.
Crosbie, who also served as Newfoundland and Labrador lieutenant-governor, has been remembered for his sharp wit and for his advocacy for his province since his death Friday at age 88.
Mulroney was among a large cast of past and present politicians from Newfoundland and beyond who came out to pay their last respects.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who after Crosbie's death hailed him as "a true force of nature," also attended the service, as did former prime minister Joe Clark and a number of former premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador.
During a lengthy political career that began on St. John's city council, Crosbie held many federal cabinet portfolios, including finance, fisheries, justice and international trade.
Former Quebec premier Jean Charest, who served alongside Crosbie in the Mulroney cabinet, had fond words Thursday for his friend and former colleague.
"The country will never be the same, will it?" Charest said before entering the church. "We will miss him."
Former premiers Paul Davis and Danny Williams stopped to recall an inspiring Newfoundland politician. Davis said he was wearing sealskin to honour Crosbie's vocal support of the province's seal harvesters.
The funeral followed a public visitation in the House of Assembly Tuesday and Wednesday that drew hundreds of people.
Crosbie is survived by his wife Jane and children Michael, Beth and Ches, who is leader of Newfoundland and Labrador's Progressive Conservative party.
In a eulogy Thursday, Ches Crosbie, praised his father as "loyal to the core," saying he did not let partisan differences get in the way of helping others.
"For my father, politics was a calling to service," he said. "He did it oh, so well." He cited Crosbie's promotion of free trade and the Hibernia offshore oil development as cornerstones of the province's economic development.
The former federal cabinet minister often made headlines with his off-colour quips and stinging barbs, but since his death he has been hailed as a national builder and a tireless advocate for his province.
As an outspoken fisheries minister under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Crosbie faced his biggest political challenge as Newfoundland and Labrador struggled with the collapse of the northern cod stocks, for centuries the backbone of the province's economy.
Crosbie shut down the fishery in July 1992, eliminating the jobs of more than 19,000 of the province's 25,000 fishermen, plant workers and trawlermen.
He would later describe the moratorium as the most difficult moment of his political career.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2020.