Crosbie rants on Tories

James
James McLeod
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Sounds off at PC party, Frank Coleman and Danny Williams

Retired politician and former Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie says he’s worried and dismayed by the state of politics in Newfoundland and Labrador right now, and especially the state of the PC party.

Crosbie spoke at a gathering in The Republic bar on Duckworth Street celebrating the work of journalist and satirist Ray Guy Saturday afternoon.

When he took to the microphone, Crosbie started by making a few jokes at the expense of Joey Smallwood, and reading from a 1969 Ray Guy column, about the running political battles between Smallwood and the Progressive Conservatives. Then, Crosbie veered away from history and into current political matters, specifically focused on the PC party.

“We have the same problems in Newfoundland here today. They never change. All kinds of skulduggery,” he said.

“We haven’t advanced very far in political life here in Newfoundland if this is the kind of the thing that happens to one of our major parties, that they can’t even organize a leadership convention,” Crosbie said.

Since starting out his life in provincial politics as Liberal cabinet minister in the 1960s, Crosbie went on to run for and lose the Liberal leadership against Smallwood, before switching parties and eventually becoming a senior cabinet minister in the Progressive Conservative government of Frank Moores.

Later, as a federal politician, Crosbie ran for the leadership of the Canadian Progressive Conservative Party, losing to Brian Mulroney.

So he had a lot of experience on his side when he started lamenting the current PC party leadership race.

The PC party organized a leadership process to replace Kathy Dunderdale, who resigned as premier in January. Three candidates came forward, but after one candidate was kicked out of the race and another one withdrew voluntarily, Frank Coleman became the premier-in-waiting by default.

Crosbie said it’s shocking that no member of the Progressive Conservative cabinet — or even the broader government caucus — stepped forward to run for the top job.

“Christ, what kind of a party are they at all? They’re all afraid to run for the leadership,” he said. “I mean, I’ll tell you, when I was around and I had a chance to run for the leadership, I ran for the God damn leadership.”

Crosbie questioned whether Coleman is really going to be in charge, or if he’s beholden to somebody else.

Speaking to The Telegram afterwards, Crosbie said he believes former premier Danny Williams orchestrated the PC party leadership.

“Just what is going on here? Why weren’t there any contenders from the present caucus and the present cabinet? This is a first time in my experience, certainly here in Newfoundland, but I haven’t heard of it anywhere else either,” he said. “There’s nobody else who’s in any position to be exerting that influence other than Danny.”

In the Republic bar, Crosbie said part of the reason he came out to the Ray Guy event is that as a politician, he admired Guy’s aggressive honesty.

“It’s a bloody pity that we haven’t got a Ray Guy here today to describe what’s going on and give his opinions on it,” Crosbie said. “He was a tremendous adornment to the journalism profession here in Newfoundland.”

The focus of Crosbie’s speech was on the PC party, but speaking to The Telegram afterwards, he said he’s not sold on the alternative either.

“I think it has been a great weakening of the PC party, and whether they can come back from that, I don’t know,” he said. “Whether the Liberals will be any better is very much to be seen because I haven’t heard any strong statements from the head of the Liberal party as to what their policies are going to be or not going to be.

“They’re just waiting now to have it all fall into their laps.”

A link to a video of Crosbie’s speech at the Republic bar can be found at: http://youtu.be/bKhfBVFuONo

Organizations: Canadian Progressive Conservative Party

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Duckworth Street

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  • Sara
    June 03, 2014 - 11:44

    I have to say, Crosbie has impressed me. I am relatively young and didn't know much about the man... but he knows what he's talking about, that's for sure. The PCs need to stop playing in the shadows the way Harper does, if they have any hope at all of even trying to win the next election. (Here's a hint: The Liberals have it together far better than you at this point.)

  • Corporate Psycho
    June 02, 2014 - 20:19

    Pretty embarrassing for Williams.

  • FINTIP
    June 02, 2014 - 14:25

    Before ascribing too much nobility to motives for speaking out against this government, it is important to understand the lay of the land. Crosbie sees Coleman as the second, if not third, hand-picked captain of Team Williams. Williams, of course, is the sworn enemy of Harper. Crosbie and his old retinue have long been loyal to Team Harper. Indeed it is to Harper that Crosbie is indebted for his extended stipend on the public purse. Moreover Leo Power, Crosbie’s former assistant and co-chair for the federal Conservatives in Newfoundland, blames Williams for his party's dismal showing in the province. By virtue of that math alone, Crosbie and Williams are de-facto political enemies. So when Crosbie lambasts the provincial Tories, its new leader, and the old leader he believes is behind the new leader, he is merely perpetuating the pitched battle between the once loosely aligned and now severely estranged conservative enterprises in St. John's and Ottawa. It doesn't make his criticisms of the local crowd any less valid, but it does put a question mark above his motives. Crosbie ought be careful when he uses his ouija board to summon the spirit of Ray Guy. Guy was never known to carry anyone's water. He'd out his mother if he thought she was up to no good. More than once he took the Honourable Mr. Crosbie down a few pegs (mind you, that still left him feeling head and shoulders above the rest of us). But I am reminded of a phrase that Guy invoked more than once as he laboured under the sheer frustration of kicking one political reprobate out the front door only to see two more sneak in the back. So as to make it clear that, in his humble opinion, graft and corruption came in all political flavours, he would end his tirade by saying 'a pox on all your houses'. If like Houdini, who promised faithfully that if at all possible he would send greetings back from the grave, Guy could find a way to update his sentiment on this pillaging political horde, it might be to warn them to dress lightly for the other side.

  • FINTIP
    June 02, 2014 - 14:19

    Before ascribing too much nobility to motives for speaking out against this government, it is important to understand the lay of the land. Crosbie sees Coleman as the second, if not third, hand-picked captain of Team Williams. Williams, of course, is the sworn enemy of Harper. Crosbie and his old retinue have long been loyal to Team Harper. Indeed it is to Harper that Crosbie is indebted for his extended stipend on the public purse. Moreover Leo Power, Crosbie’s former assistant and co-chair for the federal Conservatives in Newfoundland, blames Williams for his party's dismal showing in the province. By virtue of that math alone, Crosbie and Williams are de-facto political enemies. So when Crosbie lambasts the provincial Tories, its new leader, and the old leader he believes is behind the new leader, he is merely perpetuating the pitched battle between the once loosely aligned and now severely estranged conservative enterprises in St. John's and Ottawa. It doesn't make his criticisms of the local crowd any less valid, but it does put a question mark above his motives. Crosbie ought be careful when he uses his ouija board to summon the spirit of Ray Guy. Guy was never known to carry anyone's water. He'd out his mother if he thought she was up to no good. More than once he took the Honourable Mr. Crosbie down a few pegs (mind you, that still left him feeling head and shoulders above the rest of us). But I am reminded of a phrase that Guy invoked more than once as he laboured under the sheer frustration of kicking one political arse-hole out the front door only to see two more sneak in the back. So as to make it clear that, in his humble opinion, graft and corruption came in all political flavours, he would end his tirade by saying 'a pox on all your houses'. If like Houdini, who promised faithfully that if at all possible he would send greetings back from the grave, Guy could find a way to update his sentiment on this pillaging political horde, it might be to warn them to dress lightly for the other side.

  • Honesty is the best Policy!
    June 02, 2014 - 11:26

    I am delighted that he is talking. It is long overdue. Maybe Mr. Crosbie will be the person, with the knowledge, who will be willing now to put matters in the right perspective with regards to NL's value to Canada through it's contribution of its natural resources and great location.

  • Harvey
    June 02, 2014 - 11:10

    Former LT. Governor using gutter language, same old bully, joking publicly about the dead, the indefensible. Johnny is a joker!!!!

  • Paul
    June 02, 2014 - 11:01

    Got to love someone who is not afraid to tell the truth no matter who is involved. Our local politicians need to take a cue from Mr. Crosbie and they might also have a long rewarding career. Thank you Mr. Crosbie for not being afraid to speak the truth. I also wonder where the demeaning bully response from I am better than everybody else Williams is? I am sure it's coming!

  • Paul
    June 02, 2014 - 10:57

    Got to love someone who is not afraid to tell the truth no matter who is involved. Our local politicians need to take a cue from Mr. Crosbie and they might also have a long rewarding career. Thank you Mr. Crosbie for not being afraid to speak the truth. I also wonder where the demeaning bully response from I am better than everybody else Williams is? I am sure it's coming!

  • Angry Danny Angry
    June 02, 2014 - 10:33

    When can expect a vulgar or bully response from Danny Williams? You know he is raving at someone right now.

  • Maggy Carter
    June 02, 2014 - 09:59

    The first time I've read anything from Crosbie since his retirement from politics that was worth reading, I realize this was a speech, not a column, and therefore far more likely that it was his own - something visceral, perhaps even spontaneous. Like Crosbie, I miss Ray Guy who, on his worst day, was more insightful, profound and contemptuous of the corrupt and incompetent than any of the tepid columnists that have followed. Only Wakeham, who shares a couple of Guy's less salubrious traits, comes close to matching Guy's penchant for brutal honesty. No one matches him for the lucidity, cleverness and humour with which he dispatched petty tyrants - those deceitful, self-important, self-serving abusers of the public trust. In truth the heavy-handed, profit-fixated corporate conglomerates that control the media today would hardly stand for a Ray Guy in their midst. If Guy had a dislike of politicians, he had an even greater disdain for the carpetbaggers and monied class whose pockets were lined with politicians. Nor, when it comes to throwing stones at political miscreants, can we be sure how much glazing there is in the Crosbie edifice. But as an elder statesman who has survived the wars largely intact, one who admittedly won some notable battles along the way (even as we continue to lose the war), it is heartening to hear him rail against a party and a government out of control. What bothers me frankly however is that there has been no comment of similar vein directed at the federal conservative party and the Harper government. Is it the case that Crosbie continues to be connected and loyal to this - now - rogue enterprise. If the current government of this province has displayed arrogant, duplicitous, undemocratic behaviour, surely they learned it from the master of the dark arts in Ottawa. Maybe that will be the subject of his next speech.

  • Gerald.
    June 02, 2014 - 09:43

    I like John Crosbie's capacity to tell it like it is, regardless of who he offends. He is so 'right on' regarding the present disintegration of the PC Party of NL as it slides precariously into its own self-inflicting state of decomposition. And it is my opinion that he is also 'right on' in believing that "DW orchestrated the PC Party leadership". It is such a sad narrative to consider that two names, that of Williams and Coleman, will have the potential to be recorded as two of the most negative influences of the Party's history in this Province circa 2014. As I have said before, if there is any slim chance of the NL PC Party regaining any respectability or credibility it remains in the hands of Frank Coleman. Firstly he should consider a retrospective of what has transpired in the last few months, take a brief period of internalizing his motives and his impact on the Party's future and then hopefully come to the conclusion that it best for him and the Party itself that he resign. This would allow for a new leadership competition, without Coleman and with no input from Danny Williams. The hope would be to entice credible, sound leadership quality candidates (without baggage) to come forward in anticipation of renewing the Party and restoring its lifeline to challenging competitiveness. To continue on its present path is delusional and politically anorexic.

  • Newfie555
    June 02, 2014 - 09:27

    At least John Crosbie has the guts to say what most of the province is thinking.

  • D. Maria Paul
    June 02, 2014 - 09:20

    Listening to Crosby revives demons in me that I thought long time buried. To use an old colloquial term "'tis like the pot calling the kettle black arse." Tories running NL has always puzzled me; a party that panhandles to corporate money and political shenanigans - to put it mildly - lauding over a populous of people who graft endlessly to make a living. What's wrong with the working class in NL they can't see that this party has no concern or interest for the well being of the average NL citizen. How in the name of all the codless waters that surrounds her, can the Tories still be running roughshod over NL?

  • call him out of touch
    June 02, 2014 - 09:02

    i dont think Johnny realizes the fish bowl of NL politics now as in present today And amount of money to run hundreds thousands dollars Most politicans wifes wont let them toss than money into NL fire pit of politics Years ago you never had to ask your wife Peckford Smallwood Moores Wells Williams never; Now women rule the roost Johnny still jealous Danny W too apparently Funny for old man he still holds grude Time to retire old fellow Only point he made sense with was Liberals waiting for gov to fall into their lap; So i guess even a stopped watch like JohnCCrosibe right twice a day.

  • Just Sayin
    June 02, 2014 - 08:26

    As much as I like his kicks at the skullduggery going on behind the scenes of the party that can not lead itself I'll always remember how I cringed when he accepted the tax payer propped up post-colonial Harper appointed puppet like position of Lieutenant Gov. at the royal palace on Military Road.

  • Torey Nomore
    June 02, 2014 - 07:37

    JC, another Grit come Tory; reason number 1 that I cannot vote Tory no-more.

  • wow
    June 02, 2014 - 07:14

    Just as I think I don't like John Crosbie AGAIN, he changes my mind AGAIN! He DOES tell it like it is, no matter what the subject. I'm impressed, AGAIN.

  • Laughable
    June 02, 2014 - 04:55

    Mr Crosbie, Please explain to me the difference, In Danny Williams orchestrated the Pc's Leadership race, Then the Liberals, Because back in 2013, Judy Morrow came out and told Bill Rowe, She along with the party feel Dwight Ball was the man for the party, And we all know what happen there, I guess Frank is the man for the party also, But he not for the people, Some what like Dwight.

    • W Bagg
      June 02, 2014 - 07:39

      PC party should take note, especially DW