Outspokenformer federal politician John Crosbie dead at 88

Newfoundland and Labrador Lieutenant Governor John Crosbie inspects an honour guard at the Confederation Building in St. John's prior to the opening of the House of Assembly in St. John's on Monday, March 5, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

Newfoundland and Labrador's John Crosbie, an outspoken former federal cabinet minister, has died.

His family confirmed he died this morning followed a period of declining health.

He was 88.

Crosbie was known as much for his sharp wit as for his politics.

As finance minister in the short-lived  government of Prime Minister Joe Clark, he brought in a tough budget  in 1979, but the government soon fell on a motion of non-confidence.

At the time, Crosbie said, quote, "Long enough to conceive, just not long enough to deliver."

He ran for the party's leadership in 1983 but, hurt by his inability to speak French, he lost to Brian Mulroney.

Crosbie also served as fisheries minister in Mulroney's cabinet.

In that role, he oversaw the closure of the commercial cod fishery in Atlantic Canada, a move that put thousands of people in his home province out of work.