Liberals lose a legend
Sad news: Jerry Yanover, who served as a senior adviser to every Liberal House leader from 1969 clear through to 2007, has died.
Yanover probably understood Parliament better than anyone in Ottawa. He had a keen mind and a keen wit and a great appreciation of the way politics spans the gamut from trivial to serious. When Canada found itself with a minority government in 2004, for the first time in 25 years, I was then bureau chief of The Star, and I invited Yanover to come and have breakfast with us to tell us what we were in for. Whenever I really needed to understand Parliament's intricacies, in fact, I often turned to Jerry.
I am sorry we lost Jerry before he had a chance to write a book of his memoirs. The stories he had... To appreciate him, I'd suggest anyone have a look at this MPTV video (Garth Turner's old web-television production) or a great article by Jane Taber from a couple of years ago (you can find through a Google search; I can't seem to get a good link here.) This part of that interview (see below) looks particularly poignant right now - it was about how Jerry repeatedly wanted to move on, but how he couldn't "walk out on friends." Sadly, he has walked out on many of them with his passing. He will be missed.
He's such a fixture that people have forgotten he is the one who discovered Mamma Teresa Ristorante, the Liberal hang-out in Ottawa. He came across it one night on his way home from work after it had just opened and fell in love with the cannelloni and bechamel sauce.
Over the years, Mr. Yanover has tried to escape but never with any success. Each and every time there is a new government and a new House leader the powers-that-be beg him to stay on just until they get back on their feet.
He was ready to leave in 1972 and "do something else" but when Pierre Trudeau formed only a minority government, Mr. Yanover was enticed to stay on. He was 25. Having won back their majority in 1974, Mr. Yanover figured this was the time to make an exit. He was wrong.
"They asked me to stay because Mitchell didn't [have] that much expertise on procedure and then last summer I though I'd be able to escape and they said, 'Well, it's a minority parliament and we really think you ought to stay.' It's very difficult to walk out on friends, you know."