Premier Danny Williams
Installation of Lieutenant Governor John Crosbie
House of Assembly
Monday, February 4, 2008, 2:30 p.m.
Your Honours, Mr. Chief Justice, Mrs. Wells, Members of the House of Assembly, Members of Parliament, Senators, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Participating in a ceremony to install a new Lieutenant Governor is a great honour and privilege. Today marks Newfoundland and Labrador�s 12th such ceremony since we allowed Canada to join us in 1949.
Over the past several months, speculation was rampant about who would be chosen to take on this prestigious post.
But there is one figure in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador and of Canada whose contribution is eclipsed by no others, Mr. John Crosbie.
With his wife, Jane, as a constant source of strength and inspiration, he has taken on one colossal challenge after another, never lacking in the courage, the conviction or the caustic wit that the situation required.
He showed the entire country exactly what Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are made of, and we have always been proud to say he is one of our own and one of our best.
He comes from a family of visionary and hard-working entrepreneurs who also had a penchant for public service, and Newfoundland and Labrador was fortunate to benefit greatly from their work.
These families gave us an individual who embodied all their strengths, hopes and dreams for a better Newfoundland and Labrador.
They sent him to St. Andrew�s College where he and his friends from here sang the "Ode to Newfoundland" to mark � reluctantly � the first moments of Confederation for Newfoundland and Labrador. He shared his dad�s preference for an option other than Confederation, and he voiced those convictions in a poem that included, as a rallying cry, the words: "� Up true Newfoundlander! Rise / And fight once more to win proud freedom�s prize!"
Even though there were many at that time who did not support the option that he and his dad had championed, there were few of any political persuasion who did not share his desire to see Newfoundland and Labrador rise to achieve its true promise. And John set out to do just that.
In the years that followed, he completed his education, earning award after award through his stellar performance in political science and law while at the same time building a relationship and then a family with his constant companion, Jane.
It was in 1965 that he first made the decision to run for public office. The forum was municipal � St. John�s city council � and the win was decisive and he was elected deputy mayor. I remember as a teenager being at a PC convention in Gander when my late father phoned John suggesting he run for the leadership of the PC Party. I like to believe he would have been the first Tory premier if he had taken that advice.
But he chose another route. A year later he was appointed Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in the Smallwood Government before he had even won a constituency in the House of Assembly. That would come soon thereafter, and not long after that would come the province�s Health portfolio, where he presided over the introduction of medicare.
Those were thorny times in Newfoundland and Labrador politics, and the new minister soon found himself facing a crisis of conscience. There are those here today who know that he was not alone in facing that crisis or in taking the action that he did. It is intriguing how the paths of the characters in our province�s history have a way of crisscrossing each other in the most interesting ways.
His Honour and the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal would have had no idea four decades ago, on that shocking day when they discovered their seats bolted to the floor on the opposite side of the legislature, that they would be reunited in the House all these years later in the roles they occupy today.
Sir Winston Churchill once said "Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others change their principles for the sake of their party." These men both believed in holding firm on their principles.
I recommend the autobiography No Holds Barred to anyone who is not familiar with the events of the late sixties and early seventies that propelled our province around a sharp political corner and down an entirely different path.
Through the jigs and the reels, the Member for St. John�s West came out the other side of this melee as a senior minister in a government of an entirely different stripe, with responsibility for Finance, Treasury Board and Economic Development, and he brought down several budgets for the province.
In his senior portfolios, he played an important part in instituting vital reforms that continue to benefit Newfoundland and Labrador today, including changes to make public tendering more fair, conflicts of interest less tolerable, and the legislature more effective and accountable.
Some years later, he was entrusted with responsibility for the Fisheries and Intergovernmental Affairs portfolios, which foreshadowed and prepared him for the next big turn in his career path.
On September 8, 1976 � 10 years to the day from his first election � he resigned from the House of Assembly to vie for a vacant seat in the House of Commons, which he won. He found himself in another opposition caucus about to ascend to power. His leader, Joe Clark, was promising to recognize provincial jurisdiction over offshore resources, a policy critical to Newfoundland and Labrador.
There was a general election in 1979, and in the new minority Clark government, he found himself appointed Minister of Finance, a portfolio he had now held at both the provincial and federal levels. On the 11th of December, wearing a pair of black and grey sealskin mukluks from Labrador, he presented a fateful budget.
Two days later, the government fell on a non-confidence motion. The subsequent election brought the Member for St. John�s West back in opposition, and a new period of intrigue was about to begin.
But in 1983, with the federal Liberals again about to slip from power, the federal Progressive Conservatives held a race to choose the next leader and, as it would turn out, the next Prime Minister.
His Honour at the time was polling at only about 3 per cent in his party, but there was no deficit of courage or conviction in his heart. So, he and his team set out to run the race of their lives, accompanied as always by Jane, who was described in the press at the time as "No Plain Jane, But a Feisty Lady" � a strong and smart individual, a force to be reckoned with; and so she has always been.
Understanding the vital importance of trade to the Newfoundland and Labrador economy and seeing its promise for Canada, they launched the leadership campaign with a free trade theme � "Agenda for Action".
By convention time, he was at 3 per cent no longer. He gave a barn-burner of a speech to delegates. In a field of eight, he polled a strong third behind the former Prime Minister and the Prime Minister to come.
When the balloting was over, we could not have been prouder, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, of the stellar performance of our John.
The election in 1984 put the Tories back in power, and His Honour was given a series of senior appointments that enabled him to pursue initiatives of enormous significance to Canada, many of them profoundly consequential for Newfoundland and Labrador.
He spearheaded the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA and world trade reform, which would have delighted his father, I am sure.
He was there to take the reins during the heart-wrenching time when depleted groundfish stocks forced the closure of our fisheries, and he fought vigorously, as no other could have done, to secure national assistance for our people during one of the most significant upheavals in our province�s history.
He was instrumental in getting our offshore oil industry off the ground and securing federal financing at a critical juncture. And he was instrumental in securing the initial Atlantic Accord, which recognized and entrenched our right to be the primary beneficiary of our offshore resources, although it was nearly 20 years later when the principle beneficiary concept became reality but then was diminished again by the new Federal Government.
John fought boldly for our province�s interests at times when the lack of a powerful voice at the federal cabinet table could have meant disaster for Newfoundland and Labrador.
Since retiring from politics in 1993, His Honour has continued to make an important contribution as a senior statesman, as a lawyer, as a business leader, and many other roles.
Some have wondered why he might want to assume this post when, in their view, it means muzzling himself and tending to ceremonial duties. But the statement near the conclusion of his autobiography will always serve as a reminder of the depth of his love for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. His statement reflects exactly the way that I, also, feel.
Even though we have agreed to disagree and will continue to do so on issues.
To quote: "I am proud of Canada as a nation and of the fact that I am Canadian. I love Canada, but Newfoundland is my homeland. I�m a Newfoundlander first �. When others know our history and see what was accomplished by a people who had to wrestle a living from fishing and sealing, they have to admire Newfoundlanders for being a breed of tough, resilient, and enduring people.
As a Newfoundlander, I always felt unique. It�s still true today, in my view, that most Newfoundlanders feel themselves to be unique and, as a result, have a profound attachment to the land where they were born." End quote.
I believe Their Honours will thoroughly enjoy building on the outstanding work of Ed and Eve Roberts in connecting with the uniquely proud and resilient people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
We are on the cusp of greatness in this province; turning the corner to becoming a "have" province. In the past few years, I believe that we have stood stronger, prouder and taller than ever in our history. We have put the country on notice that we are a force to be reckoned with and we have started to make our fellow Canadians understand and appreciate the contributions that we have made to this great federation.
As we move forward to a brighter future, it is more important than ever that we remain strong and determined, and that we stand together as one united voice in the cause that is Newfoundland and Labrador.
I believe the years ahead will be greatly rewarding, both for Their Honours and for the people of our province who have the opportunity to interact with them, both formally and casually. And it will also be a giddy time for journalists, whose ears will be itching for tantalizing sound-bites of the famous and irreverent Crosbie wit. Your Honours, you make a terrific team and you are perfectly suited for this new role.
On behalf of the Government and people of Newfoundland and Labrador, I extend to you both our sincerest congratulations, our warmest wishes and our prayers for your health and happiness as you fulfill your duties and enjoy the splendor of our Government House.
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