Jerry Yanover, parliamentary strategist to a legion of Liberal leaders, has died suddenly. He was 62.
He was found in his downtown Ottawa apartment yesterday, not far from his other home, Parliament Hill.
Mr. Yanover, who served every Liberal whip and House leader since Donald Macdonald in 1969, had been strategizing with Paul Zed, Michael Ignatieff's chief of staff, just hours before he was found. His beloved dog, Opie, a one-year-old Norwich terrier, was with him.
"He in many ways was the institution of Parliament," Mr. Zed said today. "Because whether it was the strategy of the opposition or the challenges of government, he knew every move and every rule."
Mr. Yanover's death will be a big loss to the Liberal leadership in the House of Commons. In addition to losing Mr. Yanover's expertise, his colleague, Richard Wackid, another procedural mastermind, has been sidelined by a serious illness.
Last week, Mr. Yanover had gone into the hospital to have a procedure done on his heart. He spent several days in hospital before being released. He was to return in September for surgery. Liberal House leader and good friend Ralph Goodale had visited him in hospital.
Mr. Yanover was quirky and brilliant. He had two passions: parliamentary procedure and the Cleveland Indians baseball team.
He had been a fan of Parliament since his elementary school days, becoming interested in government and procedure when he heard on the radio that as part of their promises in the 1957 election campaign, the Liberals would drop the tax on Fleers Dubble Bubble gum. His young mind figured that meant cheaper bubble gum because in Kingston, where he grew up, it cost two cents. Across the river in New York State, it cost one cent. But the Diefenbaker Tories won.
"That's when I decided politics needed attention in this country," Mr. Yanover said in an interview in 2007 with The Globe and Mail.
Whether it was the strategy of the opposition or the challenges of government, he knew every move and every rule. Paul Zed, Michael Ignatieff's chief of staff
Since then, his career has been full of ups and downs. One friend recalled that as a young staffer he had to consult Pierre Trudeau on election night in 1972 about whether he could retain power.
Mr. Yanover retired from Parliament Hill several years ago but remained a consultant to the Liberal caucus and leadership.
Mr. Yanover's friend and long-time neighbour, Dena Gosewich, alerted police yesterday after Mr. Yanover's Sunday New York Times was still lying outside his apartment door late in the afternoon. She said she could hear Opie whining and scratching at the door. It was unlike Mr. Yanover to leave Opie alone, she said.
She is now looking after the little terrier. Mrs. Gosewich said a number of neighbours gathered last night at Mr. Yanover's favourite bistro. People were upset, she said, because Mr. Yanover and Opie were such a big part of the neighbourhood.
A funeral service is tentatively planned for Wednesday.