March 1, 2001
Looking like an unmade bed - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER -- I’ve been collecting autographs for a while now. I guess the feeling someone more “important” than you is acknowledging your mere existence, does the ego some satisfaction. (And I do recognise the hollowness of fame, trust me.) I’ve moved from the likes of Johnny Carson, Frank Sinatra and Mary Tyler Moore to more meaningful celebs like Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and Walter Cronkite. Then on to my current binge, politicos like Margaret Thatcher (The Baroness Thatcher of Kestevan,) Brian Mulroney and the late Pierre Trudeau. Notwithstanding recent addition, Late Late Show comic, Craig Kilborn (who wrote ‘Proud!’ to which I am still deciphering,) the last entry into my hallowed collection was the mug of John Crosbie.
The Honourable John C. Crosbie, P.C., O.C., Q.C. (The P.C. is the designation that he is a Privy Councillor, thus can style himself Honourable for life, O.C. signifies he is an officer of the Order of Canada and Q.C. means he is a Queen’s Counsel, an honour bestowed on barristers giving them more prestige than lesser lawyers,) was Joe Clark’s finance minister in 1979 and one of the ministers responsible for Free Trade and of course, the shutting down of the Atlantic fishery when he was the minister of the DFO. I wrote him in January for an autograph, complimenting his memoirs, No Holds Barred. Having read the tome about a year ago, I particularly enjoyed his lack of tact and his ‘no holds barred’ approach at dressing down Kim Campbell, Pat Carney, Jean Chrétien, Brian Mulroney, Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark and others. He pulls no punches and makes for an interesting read.
Senator Carney’s own book, Trade Secrets made despairing comments on the Hon. John Crosbie. She called him an immodest man of modest achievement and the Great Pretender, among other things. Allan Fotheringham, the doyen of columnists, once made the insultive retort, that Crosbie looked and dressed like an unmade bed. (As an aside, Crosbie called my e-mail pal, Rafe Mair, an “extremist.”)
His letter of the 17th of January thanked me for my letter and that he was “delighted” in my reading of his autobiography and my interest in politics. He was also pleased to send me an autographed head shot, which funny enough is signed in the front on the 2 millimetre border and on the back: “Joseph - All the Best” again signed John C. Crosbie. His modesty is all too apparent.
John Crosbie, for all his achievements, may be remembered for his cat calling of Liberal Sheila Copps, when she was in the Opposition and he, on the Government side. “Pass the tequila Shelia, turn over and love me once more,” were less memorable quotes in the Commons. The Hon. Mrs. Copps titled a book, “Nobody’s Baby,” in direct reference to her and Crosbie’s repartee.
Alas, the Hon. Mr. Crosbie is now doing lobby work for the Texada Land Corporation and has become pals with Mrs. Copps too. He is well missed in Ottawa political and social circles. Judy Rebick, a feminist monger, once said that the Reform Party’s conservatism made Mr. Crosbie look like Gloria Steinem. He resides in his beloved Newfoundland and when I asked if he’d ever step into the political fray once more, he replies: “I sometimes get tempted but I will be 70 this month and it would not be sensible to try to return to the political field at my age.” He stressed however that he still is interested in supporting his faltering Tories.
With the Tories and the Alliance playing merger footsy, I am reminded of his adamant stance against such overtures two or three years ago when the United Alternative was first proposed. I wonder if his assertion remains, since last November’s pathetic election results that saw the Joe Clark Tories earn less votes than the comedy of errors of Kim Campbell’s implosion in 1993. Will John Crosbie return? Will the press be treated to Crosbie’s bold and irrepressible stylings of a staunch Conservative, whose salad days had long and passed?
John Crosbie -- colourful doesn’t aptly describe him.
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