By Belle Hatfield
For Arnold (Sonny) and Sinclair (Bubsy) Crosby there is no grey area when it comes to politics. Sonny is a Liberal and Bubsy a Progressive Conservative. It’s been that way as long as they can remember.
Two brothers, Sonny and Bubsy Crosby, with opposing political views. BELLE HATFIELD PHOTOS
“He’s my brother,” said Sonny, the Tuesday after the election was called, “but for the next 28 days," he laughs, " I hate his guts.”
Bubsy is equally as blunt. “I don’t like his politics,” he says.
The two brothers have long since lost count, but this is the 18th provincial general election for St. Clair, who got involved in politics when Bill Singer, a Progressive Conservative party organizer, gave the young boy a job stuffing mailboxes in the 1953 federal election. They didn’t win that year, but in 1957, he remembers sharing in the sense of victory when Conservative leader John Diefenbaker won over Liberal Louis St. Laurent. And Bubsy’s been working for the party ever since.
Meanwhile his older brother Sonny was spending a lot of time hanging out at one or another of the Bishara family stores. His brother Charles (that’s former Yarmouth mayor Charles Crosby) has often said if it weren’t for the kindness of the Bishara family, he’d have gone hungry many more nights than he did as a kid.
There was as much politics as food on display in those days and it was all Liberal, Sonny remembers. Thinking back to a time, more than 70 years ago, Sonny remembers feeling safe with the family and liking the Liberal ideas being bandied about. It was the beginning of a life-long loyalty to the party. He has never waivered and he says working for Zach Churchill, whose mother is a Bishara, feels like a full circle moment.
“He’s the best MLA we’ve ever had,” he declares.
The Vanguard has asked the two brothers to meet at the Argyle Street corner in south end. Sonny’s declaration in front of the boys on the bench sparks an outburst from Bubsy.
“What’s he done?” he demands. “I’ll tell you who was the best – Richard Hurlburt did more for this area than anyone …” his words drift into a momentary silence.
“And I’ll tell you something else,” he continues, “If he’d run, he would win again.”
A little crowd is gathering now. With an audience, each works to win the war of words. In the midst of the bickering a man shouts back, “It’s not votes that matter. It’s jobs, man.”
And the wrangling continues.
It’s been that way as long as they can remember. There’s a familiar pattern to the exchange, like a comfortable pair of well-worn slippers, they slide into their adversarial roles.
Leaders may come and go – when Sonny first got involved Louis Saint Laurent was Canada’s post-war prime minister – but their allegiance has not swayed. It’s been 61 years for Bubsy, longer for his older brother Sonny. Each has celebrated election victories and each has suffered years when their party was in the political wilderness.
MLAs and MPs have come, gone, and retired with their pensions. The powers behind the throne have been known to switch allegiances in tune with the party in power.
But there are some people you can count on to be there. When the next election is called, Bubsy will plaster his front yard with blue signs and Sonny will decorate his car with red ones. They will work the phones. They will put up signs. They will be faithful to their party.
And they will once again act like bitter enemies, until election day. Then they become just brothers.