John Carnell Crosbie, a titan of Newfoundland and Labrador politics, has died at age 88.
Crosbie, son of Ches Arthur Crosbie and Jessie (Carnell) Crosbie, was born in St. John’s, on Jan. 30, 1931.
He studied political science at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., followed by a law degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax before pursuing further education at the Univeristy of London.
He was called to the bar in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1957.
He was elected to St. John’s city council in November 1965 and served briefly as deputy mayor of St. John’s in 1966.
Later that year, Crosbie was appointed to the cabinet of Joey Smallwood as minister of municipal and housing, and won a seat as a member of the House of Assembly for St. John’s West.
In that post, Crosbie created the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp.
In 1967, Crosbie became minister of health, and created the Newfoundland Medicare Comission and laid the groundwork for the Newfoundland Medicare Plan.
Crosbie and future premier Clyde Wells resigned from Smallwood’s cabinet in 1968, choosing to sit as Reform Liberals.
In 1969, Smallwood announced his retirement from provincial politics, and Crosbie put his name forward to become the next Liberal leader. Upon hearing the news, Smallwood entered the race and won the leadership once more.
Crosbie joined the Progressive Conservatives in 1971 and helped the party win election in 1972. He held a number of cabinet posts with the PCs, including minister of finance and minister of fisheries.
In 1976, Crosbie ran federally, winning a byelection in St. John’s West.
Crosbie became finance minister after the federal Progressive Conservatives won a minority government in 1979. Crosbie’s budget did not receive the support of the House of Commons and the Tories lost the subsequent federal election in 1980.
Crosbie ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party in 1983, placing third behind Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney.
In the Mulroney cabinet, Crosbie became fisheries minister. In 1992, he oversaw the cod moratorium, effectively shutting down the cod fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador. Amid protests from fishermen, he uttered one of his most famous quips in response to the protesters: “I didn’t take the fish from the goddamn water, so don’t go abusing me.”
Crosbie left federal politics in 1993 and published his memoirs, “No Holds Barred,” in 1997.
In 2008, Crosbie was named lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, a position he held until 2013.
Crosbie married his wife, Jane, on Sept. 8, 1952, whom he leaves to mourn. His eldest son, Ches Crosbie, is leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Michael Crosbie is a lawyer with McInnis Cooper in St. John’s. Daughter Beth Crosbie is a former real estate agent, and was a candidate in the 2015 and 2019 provincial elections.
Crosbie is expected to receive a state funeral for his decades of service to Newfoundland and Labrador.