Speech delivered by His Honour the Honourable John C. Crosbie, PC, OC, ONL, QC at his Installation as Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador
Monday, 4 February 2008
First, Jane and I thank each of you for coming today to join with us in my installation as Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador. Thank you also to the Premier and his colleagues in the Cabinet who will be, following this ceremony, my Ministers, and thanks also to the s of the Newfoundland and Labrador Government and the Government of Canada who have worked with and guided me as I prepare to take up my new duties. Jane and I are very grateful to them.
We are very grateful as well that Canada is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen at Westminster, the Queen of Canada, and our Head of State. She has been the Head of State now for 56 years. I am old enough to remember clearly her earliest years with the Royal Family, carrying on with her father as our constitutional monarch, and we acknowledge all of their tremendous service during World War II and her many visits to Canada which have demonstrated her knowledge of, and her obvious deep affection for, Canadians. I can certainly assert that Newfoundland and Labrador Canadians have always shown great affection for her and respect for her selfless devotion to duty.
I also thank the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada who have done me the great honour of asking me to represent the Crown in Newfoundland and Labrador for the next five years or so. I acknowledge the fact that it is the men and women who serve in our House of Assembly as elected members who govern our Province. It is thus fitting and proper that those appointed to represent the Crown take up their duties ly in a ceremony held in the House of Assembly.
I am now the third former member of this honourable House to hold this office. Sir Albert Walsh, who was our first Lieutenant Governor after Confederation, sat in the House of Assembly that preceded the Commission of Government for one term, between 1928 and 1932. Another predecessor, the Honourable James McGrath, served in a most distinguished manner in the Parliament of Canada for many years while my immediate predecessor, the Honourable Edward Roberts, served as a MHA for more than 23 years, elected 8 times, and I am proud to follow in such footsteps.
I can claim to have, as did my predecessor, a considerable understanding of both the pleasures and triumphs and the trials of public life in this Province as a member of this House of Assembly elected first on 8 September 1966 and three times thereafter on 28 October 1971, 24 March 1972 and for the fourth time on 16 September 1975. I resigned from this honourable House on September 8th, 1976, to contest a by-election in the federal electoral district of St. John’s West held on October 18th, 1976, when I was first elected to the House of Commons serving for 17 years as the MP for that historic district and as a Minister in the administration of the Right Honourable Joe Clark from 1979-80, and with the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney from 1984 until 1993 when I retired from elected politics.
I have never regretted the fact that I was born in Newfoundland and Labrador and, apart from periods of time when I left the Province to complete high school and university in Ontario, Nova Scotia and the United Kingdom and later serve at Ottawa in the House of Commons and Governments of Canada, I have made my home here. I have never regretted my involvement in the public debates that have occurred in our Province and Canada during my service of 27 years in this honourable House of Assembly and in the House of Commons and Governments of Canada. I have known victory and defeat, the peaks and valleys of success and failure and never regretted any of it.
In the fourteen years passed since I decided not to seek re-election in 1993, I have retained my interest in and observation of public life and those involved in public service and have not hesitated to offer my opinions from time to time verbally or in writing on the public issues of the day.
My partisan days are now ended but my respect for politicians and for the political process and for those who engage in that process is as great as ever. From my earliest days, I was interested in politics and found it to be a worthwhile way to spend my life by putting myself forward for judgment by our people by standing first for election to the City Council of St. John’s then later to the House of Assembly and the House of Commons.
It is my understanding, based on the studies of such as political scientist Bagehot that while it is clear that a Lieutenant Governor acts only upon Ministerial advice, as I will now do, the Lieutenant Governor possesses three rights described as “the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to warn” as our Monarch does. I look forward with eager anticipation to such new experiences.
My predecessor, the Honourable Edward Roberts, who I served in the House of Assembly with, both on the same and opposite sides of the House during my ten years as a member, has acted in the best traditions of the office of Lieutenant Governor and enhanced the standards that those who follow him should embrace. Both his Honour and his wife, Eve, have given outstanding service to our people during their years at Government House.
On a personal note, I point out with pride that my Crosbie predecessors originated in Dumfries in Scotland with Thomas Crosbie born in Dumfries sending his wife and children to Napen in Miramichi in the province of New Brunswick in 1840, he having been a stone cutter in his native Scotland. In 1843 he joined his wife and sons in New Brunswick. His youngest son, George Graham, was a plasterer, who in 1858 at the age of 23 left New Brunswick to settle in Harbour Grace and then Brigus, Newfoundland. He successfully involved himself in business moving from Harbour Grace to Brigus and then later to St. John’s. Of his 8 children, John was the second youngest. George moved to St. John’s to open the Central Hotel, later the Crosbie, purchased Clovelly Farm for the supply of produce to that Hotel; the Hotel, having been destroyed in the fire of 1892, was rebuilt but George passed on some three months later. His second son, John Chalker Crosbie, for several years managed the Crosbie Hotel on behalf of his mother but left the Hotel business to start his own fishing, shipping and insurance business at the beginning of the 20th century. He was elected in 1908 with the people’s party of Edward Morris, later Baron Morris and continued in public life from 1908 until retiring in 1928 having been Minister of Shipping in World War I and Minister of Finance from 1924 to 1928 in the Government of Arthur Munroe. My father, Chesley A. Crosbie, was a businessman in the fishing and other industries such as construction, shipping and airlines. He was elected in 1946 in St. John’s West to the national convention arranged by the U.K. Government to recommend what the future form of government for Newfoundland should be following the Commission of Government appointed in 1934 by the U.K. Government, formed the Economic Union Party to contest the referendum elections of 1948 advocating a return to Responsible Government so that Newfoundlanders could decide where their future lay whether in Canadian Confederation or an economic union with the United States or as an Independent Dominion.
My family has roots firmly planted in our Province since 1858 - 150 years to date! On my maternal side, my mother was a Carnell and her father, my grandfather, Andrew G. Carnell, served as a councilor for four years (1929 to 1933) and as mayor of St. John’s for sixteen years (1933 to 1949) and his son, Geoff Carnell, a councilor for 16 years (1957 to 1973).
However, my wife of 55 years, Jane Ellen Audrey Furneaux, and her family, are well ahead of my family in attachment to Newfoundland and Labrador. I am proud to advise it was 225 years ago that Joseph Furneaux came to Newfoundland in 1783 from Dartmouth, England, representing an English fish company for 7 years then going into the fish business himself. He married Jane Sheppard in 1791 and they had 8 children. When Joseph died in 1809, at 45, Jane raised the family and ran the business! She enlarged their operations and initiated the rendering of whale and seal oil for the lighting of lamps at Cupids. However, just as their operations were enlarged at Cupids, the electric light bulb was invented and put them out of that business but she remained active in business until her son Hugh took over, he having been born in 1802 himself raising 3 daughters and a son. Hugh, when he retired, moved to St. John’s and served 5 years as the sergeant of arms of the House of Assembly! His son, John Elson Furneaux, born in 1854 moved to St. John’s, had 8 children, and in 1882 started a newspaper first called the “Evening Mercury” and in 1890 the “Evening Herald” having as editor, at one point, the renowned Sir P.T. McGrath. He thus was much involved in the political life of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Jane’s father, Dr. John Harvey Furneaux, at 13 years of age was the oldest son and sent to Boston by his mother to learn the newspaper business. Because of his great love for animals and not much liking for printer’s ink, he left the Boston institution to which his mother had sent him and went to work on a farm in Manitoba determined to become a veterinarian. He eventually graduated with his degree in Veterinary medicine from Guelph University putting himself through by his own efforts becoming the well known and much loved veterinarian doctor, Dr. Jack Furneaux, who was the only private sector veterinarian in Newfoundland during World War II. In Darrin McGrath’s recent book “Hound dog - Beagles and Beaglers of Newfoundland”, Dr. Jack Furneaux, whose home and office was at the foot of Burton’s Pond, today part of the campus of Memorial University, and the site of student apartment buildings, having started his practice in St. John’s in the mid 1920’s, brought the first beagle to Newfoundland in the late 1930s to be hunted for food not just game to be pursued for sport. He pursued his veterinarian practice until he died at 69 on route to examine Max Lawlor’s horse.
So Jane’s roots in Newfoundland and Labrador go back further than mine with a wonderful family history in our Province. Her great-great grandmother Jane not only raised her own family of eight but ran a business successfully after 1809 for 26 years after her husband died.
In ending, let me mention the fact that I am now ending 14 years as Chancellor of our magnificent Memorial University, the most important institution, in my view, in this Province outside Government itself.
I thank Chief Justice Wells, present here today, who during his tenure as Premier, appointed me to that position. Our University is certainly one of the best in Canada and has earned a sound reputation throughout the world. Memorial and our College of the North Atlantic certainly deserve our support and to be given the resources needed to do their job of educating the tens of thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians they have inspired in the years since 1949.
Jane and I intend to use Government House as the Honourable Edward Roberts and Eve did as a place to celebrate the achievements of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians from every walk of life and we hope to continue what they undertook to do for the writers, actors, painters, sculptors and musicians of Newfoundland and Labrador and to assist in the flourishing of the creative and artistic life of this Province, one of the great achievements of recent years.
In ending, I acknowledge the great honour bestowed upon me by this appointment and pledge to do all that I can, together with Jane, during my term as your Lieutenant Governor to earn the confidence placed in us by this appointment and prove worthy of the trust placed in us.