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Jane Crosbie speaks up during Government House gathering, highlights spouse’s vital role in lieutenant-governor’s office

Jane Crosbie, wife of former politician and former lieutenant-governor John Crosbie, says spouses play a vital role in the office of the lieutenant-governor.
Jane Crosbie, wife of former politician and former lieutenant-governor John Crosbie, says spouses play a vital role in the office of the lieutenant-governor. - Submitted

‘John and I have always been a team’

She may be married to one of the most recognizable and outspoken politicians in the country, but never let it be said Jane Crosbie doesn’t have her own voice.

So, when a plaque recognizing the service of spouses of lieutenant-governors was unveiled at Government House in St. John’s last week, it’s no surprise the 87-year-old took it upon herself to have her say.

Following the ceremony to unveil the plaque on Feb. 1, during a dinner for all surviving previous lieutenant-governors and spouses, Crosbie, with husband John by her side, rose to her feet to present the speech she had typed on her computer before heading to bed the night before.

20 Questions with Jane Crosbie

“Ten years ago, when John was lieutenant-governor, I worked closely with him and the staff to help keep this wonderful historic office relevant to today’s society,” said Crosbie, whose husband was the province’s 12th lieutenant-governor (2008-13) after serving as a provincial cabinet minister under premiers Joey Smallwood and Frank Moores, as well as a federal cabinet minister for prime ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney.

“John and I have always been a team.”

She went on to say that in these times, when the #MeToo and similar campaigns dominate the media, it was good to be part of a positive story involving women.

“(One) where we celebrate the unsung contribution of women who have worked hard beside their partners. As all of you know, this is a job made much better by the influence of women,” she said.

Crosbie acknowledged that many things have changed since Government House was first opened. She said the lieutenant-governor remains relevant in today’s society, especially when used to promote our culture and diversity within the Commonwealth.

“As partners, we have been a vital influence on how this office has evolved,” she said.

“I look forward to the day when a female lieutenant-governor is appointed and a male name is added to the illustrious list of spouses.

“Perhaps we can raise a glass to this change in policy, and the influence we women have brought to this role.”

When contacted by The Telegram this week, Crosbie explained she felt compelled to speak up because she believed it was important to have a woman’s voice heard at the event.

Many say she was the one who was ultimately responsible for having the plaque created.

Before she and John left at the end of John’s tenure at Government House, she had asked that her name be added to the board listing the former lieutenant-governors, but was turned down.

When the decision was made to have a plaque honouring lieutenant-governor spouses, she was delighted.

“It was time women be acknowledged,” she told The Telegram Tuesday.

While her husband served as lieutenant-governor, Crosbie was instrumental in helping the staff gardener organize impressive flower and vegetable gardens on the property, inviting several groups to participate. They used the vegetables to make various dishes with children’s groups, with the help of the house chef.

Crosbie also made a point of meeting with various organizations, including women’s groups, during her time at Government House.

“I made myself useful and kept busy,” she said. “I poked into everything. That’s the way I am … I’m very outgoing.”

She also invited several groups in for dinner and to tour Government House.

“It’s the people’s house,” she said. “We enjoyed our time there.”

Crosbie said she hopes former Liberal MP Judy Foote will be appointed the next lieutenant-governor.

“Judy Foote would be perfect, but there are all kinds of women who are well-educated — doctors and lawyers,” she said.

“Women can handle anything.”

Twitter: TelyRosie

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