Tributes pour in for former Cape Breton MLA Gordie Gosse

Tributes are pouring in for Gordie Gosse, the former Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly who served for 12 years as an NDP MLA from Cape Breton.

Gosse, 64, died of cancer Thursday morning.

Former NDP Premier Darrell Dexter is one of a series of friends who visited Gosse and his family earlier this week.

"Everything Gordie did, he did with this overwhelming sense of duty and compassion and just a drive that was undeniable," said Dexter. "It was hard to ever say no to Gordie."

"You knew when you were talking to him that it was a matter of genuine care for others."

Respected by people 'on all sides of the house'

Dexter remembers Gosse being unsure whether he was the right person to be Speaker when, as premier, Dexter asked him to run for the job. He said Gosse turned out to be a great Speaker.

"I think it was because he was respected by, you know, people on all sides of the house," said Dexter. "They knew that he was going to treat them fairly.

"They knew that he was a person of principle and integrity."

The current leader of the NDP, Gary Burrill, recelled sharing an office with Gosse not long after he was elected in 2009.

"The genuine warmness of Gordie as a person has meant something to everybody that's come into contact with him," he said. "I don't know anybody that didn't like Gordie Gosse." 

Before politics, Gosse was a steelworker who went on to become executive director of the Whitney Pier Youth Club.

He was first elected in 2003 as MLA for Cape Breton Nova. He was re-elected three times, the last in the newly formed electoral district of Sydney-Whitney Pier.

PC leader Tim Houston called Gosse "an incredible public servant," who strived to make life better for those in his community.

Gosse resigned as MLA in 2015 for health reasons. He had been diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

The diagnosis prompted him to become a passionate advocate for children in Grade 7 being vaccinated against HPV, and for others to be regularly tested.

He served as Speaker from 2011 to 2013 during the time the NDP were in power. As Speaker, Gosse cracked down on Blackberry use during question period.