John Crosbie mourners fill Confederation Building for public visitation

John Crosbie mourners fill Confederation Building for public visitation

People looking to pay their respects to the late John Crosbie lined up at Confederation Building on Tuesday for the first day of public visitation.

The ashes of the legendary politician will lie in state for two days so the general public can say farewell. Crosbie is the first person to get state treatment since his one-time political rival, former premier Joey Smallwood, died in 1991.

"I have been a longtime admirer of John and his family. I know Ches very well, and the rest of the family, and they just don't make men like that anymore," said Barbara Doran, among some of the first through the doors.

"I think he sort of let the rest of Canada know what we're made of, and if you messed with John Crosbie he'd wipe the floor with you."

The House of Assembly was open to the public at 2 p.m.on Tuesday and will be again on Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. for public visitation.

Confederation Building staff will be in place to direct people. Parking will be available in front of the east block — the tallest of the buildings. Members of the public can enter through the front entrance, or the public service entrance on the northeast side.

Malone Mullin/CBC

Crosbie died on Friday at the age of 88, following a period of illness.

His family had been by his side in his final days, including his beloved wife, Jane.

He left behind a legacy in Newfoundland and Labrador as a firebrand and fierce advocate of the province both provincially and federally.

"I have known John Crosbie for 70 years and I needed to come, and to give my sympathy to Jane who was very important to John's life," said Ian Wishart. 

"He stood up for Newfoundland. Always," he said. "What he attempted to do, what he was able to do, wherever he was, people always knew he was a Newfoundlander."  

Malone Mullin/CBC

Crosbie served as a cabinet minister under Progressive Conservative Prime Ministers Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark, and is credited for essential efforts in advancing the offshore oil industry in the province.

As attorney general and justice minister, he ended discrimination based on sexual orientation in the RCMP and military. As fisheries minister, he brought a compensation package to more than 30,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians put out of work at the advent of the cod moratorium.

"I remember doing an interview with him once and I asked him about the closure of the fishery, and tears started to pour down from his eyes," said Doran, who is a filmmaker.

"It was the hardest thing he ever did."

Peter Cowan/CBC

Crobie's legacy transcends generations, as is the case of Calvin and Jacob Manning, who both were at Confederation Building on Tuesday for the Crosbie family.

Calvin Manning said he helped Crosbie's campaign since he was "knee-high to a grasshopper." His son, Jacob, said he has been involved with the Progressive Conservative party for about a year now, which included building the slide show that played during the visitation at Confederation Building.

Jacob Manning said a younger generation can learn from Crosbie's honesty in government and politics.

"I think we need more of that right now, more than ever," he said.

"Just a quick Google search will give you some of those moments and you can really see the type of guy he was. He was straight to the point and he cared about the people of our province."   

His funeral will be held Thursday at the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Church Hill at 2 p.m.

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