Crosbie’s candour sends sparks flying

Randy Simms
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Former lieutenant-governor John Crosbie is obviously feeling less constrained about expressing his opinion.

I remember when he was first appointed as the Queen’s representative to the province — he expressed concern that he would have a difficult time keeping his mouth shut, especially when it came to politics. The lieutenant-governor is never supposed to engage in a public discussion of anything political.

While he held the prestigious office he kept his tongue in check. But Crosbie is out of office now and no longer has to suffer silently under the mantle of public duty. When he wants to open his mouth he can do so with complete disregard for political correctness.

His recent commentary at a public event is testament to his renewed political voice. Crosbie was guest speaker at an open-mike venue celebrating the life and accomplishments of the late Ray Guy. He was expected to wax poetic about Guy, lament his loss and the void his passing left in the world of satirical humour.

Crosbie, as one of the many political figures Guy skewered over his career, would no doubt recount  examples and employ his own brand of humour to leave them laughing in the aisles. I’m pretty sure the organizers were not anticipating any kind of controversy.

But reports from the Republic bar on Duckworth Street, where the Guy celebration was held, indicate that Crosbie strayed off-script and opined to his audience that, “things never change in Newfoundland. All kinds of skulduggery.”

He then went on to express concern for the state of the provincial Progressive Conservative party and the government.

His message boiled down to three points.

1) Politics here has not advanced far since the days of Joey Smallwood.

2) The mighty PC party is in serious trouble, with not one of the party’s MHAs wanting to be premier.

3) Who is going to be running the show when Frank Coleman assumes office in July? Crosbie left little doubt that, in his opinion, Danny Williams is pulling the strings behind the scenes.

Crosbie said it was a “bloody pity” that “we haven’t got a Ray Guy here today to describe what’s going on and give his opinion on it.”

We could challenge Crosbie to tell us something we don’t already know, but it wouldn’t serve any purpose. He was stating the obvious — what a lot of people have been saying for months.

The PC government is in trouble, the party is losing membership and everyone believes the Coleman coronation was totally orchestrated by Danny Williams.

What makes this story interesting is that the elder statesman of the party, John Crosbie, is the person saying it.

If Crosbie is just being true to his nature and that’s what’s driving his public statements, then the same must be said of Williams. He had to respond.

He expressed surprise at Crosbie’s outburst and denied being involved in any kind of backroom shenanigans to discourage people from running for the province’s top post. Williams said it was just the opposite, with him encouraging MHAs and others — including Crosbie’s son, Ches, — to run for the position.

Williams painted himself as a victim of Crosbie’s attack, saying he

didn’t understand why Crosbie would say such things when he had done so much for him. He had approved the installation of an elevator at Government House so Crosbie could avoid the stairs, and he had supported the sealers memorial fund and other causes that Crosbie asked him to support.

“So I don’t understand the reason for what he’s doing here,” he said.

Maybe Crosbie could have chosen a more appropriate venue to air his views, but there’s no denying they’re shared by a lot of people, including his view that Williams wields too much influence inside the PC party.

Frank Coleman is going to have to work on that. I wonder what he’ll do.

Randy Simms is a political commentator and broadcaster. He can be reached at

Twitter: @RandyRsimms

Organizations: Government House

Geographic location: Duckworth Street, Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Huck
    June 08, 2014 - 11:57

    Pour me another tequila little man Dan.

  • Corruption or the more sanatizing term "Skulllduggery" Must Be Stopped Immediately!
    June 07, 2014 - 20:34

    It is too bad NO politician came forth with this type of candor for the 65 years that Newfoundland and Labrador has been a province of Canada and many economies in Canada have been forged out of our natural resources, but not in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The type of Skullduggery that should be labeled as Corruption that Mr. Crosbie speaks about has been going on since then, even though I think it has escalated over the past 20 years. What are we to do about it? Something has to be done since we cannot let those in power keep on robbing us of our natural resources in a way that it is impossible to build a vibrant economy here for the electorate and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, like the economies that have been built elsewhere in Canada and the World from our natural resource base. It is time for those speaking up to not skirt around the blatant corruption that is going on at this very moment and spell out in no uncertain terms what is actually going on. Many of us know about it but we need those experts like Mr. Crosbie to point the finger firmly at it and name it so that, we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can build the economy we deserve without the cream skimmed off on every venture into our natural resource base. All one has to do is turn on the CBC Radio International Overnight and learn of corruption that swirling around us and the world, but you seldom hear of it on CBC's National daily news in Canada. We want honesty when those in control are dealing with our resource base from this point on and we want the corruption that is going on at the moment to be stopped in its tracks.

    • Doug Kavamagh
      June 08, 2014 - 22:25

      I totally agree with Mr. Crosbie for the first time in my life. What happened to Premier Dunderdale? I know she vacated the office amidst the power crisis but was their a cooh of sorts.

  • Corporate Psycho
    June 07, 2014 - 14:48

    Pretty ironic. Somewhat fitting I suppose. Danny will be responsible for the rise and demise of the PC Party. His business interests couldn't let him walk away.

  • Harvey
    June 07, 2014 - 11:41

    Randy, why did you not mention the use of curse words by the former Lt. Gov.? For me, such ranting by Crosbies resurrects the bullying of water street merchants of decades past. Past politicians do such in an attempt to salvage their past...a past many would rather forget. Remember, I didn't catch the G.D. Cod.

  • Cyril Rogers
    June 07, 2014 - 09:12

    Mr. Crosbie is finally getting around to voicing what many have been saying privately for quite some time….. the Williams influence never left…even when he vacated the Office of Premier almost 4 years ago. That, in and of itself, is an affront to democracy……. but, almost every thing about Mr. Williams' tenure was an affront to democracy. His controlling dictatorial ways were evident when he was Premier….. as Mr. Manning and Ms Marshall can attest….. but that was only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. That Mr. Crosbie was constrained for this long reflects a huge problem with any democratic voices being permitted to speak in this province….and shows how far we have regressed. Mr. Smallwood himself might have been disappointed in the sorry state of democracy in NL at this juncture….it is simply that bad.

  • Frankie Bircher
    June 07, 2014 - 09:06

    We don't need Ray Guy to come back and save the British degenerate diaspora. You need John Guy at this point, a big-ass boat, and a liberal Atlantic return policy. Crosbie and Williams Are Living the Dream, the dream of excluding most of us to appease their hidden masters, and the private joke; blame each other in a staged Masque at the olde rundown republic's expense. Send them all back to Britain, to be properly appreciated, as these filthy silver spoon filchers would exhume poor Ray to check his eyes for pennies, and pockets for jokes or a purity kiss. Thank God this is as far as they went with their reading rainbow & serpent Pseudo-Vodou! We have ourselves to blame for letting Monarch larvae and bed bugs infest and ruin OUR House. Crosbie and Williams are two examples of exactly what is wrong, old goats we cant escape, and lazy journalists LOVE it! How much the two self-satisfied lads loves themselves, they'd dance Ray's shy and sensitive bones around George Street like Weekend at Bernie's for ANY ego boost or, masters request. Sick little tyrant-tike sooky dictators. Power-Gophers. You don't have to be as good as Ray to literarily crush them like bugs. But it helps, I'm sure. Crosbie has made up for his demure stint as LG, by sucking industry's sweet crack in attacking fracking and CETA dissent and the Tely prints it all, and hangs off every new way Williams comes up with rephrasing a bowel move. The only sovereign and ruling Queen that Cry Baby Crosbie has ever properly represented himself as, is his own tender inner Drama-Queen. Danny, same. They are better than Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Too bad they broke up downtown. Or was it a skit? Or just full of... Live, from Newfie John's, it's Saturday Night!