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LATE EX-COMMISSIONER PASSES – Above: former commissioner Jack Cable is seen with current Commissioner Angélique Bernard on Dec. 10, 2020. Below: Cable is seen the same day with members of his family, including daughter Sue (far left). Photos courtesy office of the commissioner

Cable remembered for integrity, public service

Another Yukon giant has left us.

By Tim Giilck on July 23, 2021

Another Yukon giant has left us.

Jack Cable, a former commissioner, MLA and well-known lawyer, passed away Wednesday.

His daughter, Sue Edelman, spoke eloquently about him Thursday afternoon during an interview with the Star. She didn’t hesitate for an instant when asked to provide one word that described her father.

“Curious,” she said. “He was always curious, always interested in things.”

Cable, she added, liked to experiment as well.

At one point, he was trying to grow wheat in the front yard of their Riverdale home.

That experiment was a failure, she recalled wryly, but it made the family home an instant attraction.

At that time, she said, most of Whitehorse’s tourism was based on tour buses. Many of the tourists came from the Canadian and U.S. prairies, Edelman said.

“Your basic cowboy types,” she said with a laugh.

It didn’t take long before the property became a highlight stop for the tour buses.

“We had a lot of people wearing cowboy hats looking at our yard and talking about the wheat,” she said. “We kids would put on a little show sometimes.”

Edelman said her father came to the Yukon some 50 years ago at the invitation of former Conservative MP Erik Nielsen.

“He thought Dad would be a good addition to the (law) firm, and he was,” she said.

Her father also had a streak of restlessness unusual for the time. He had several careers: engineer, lawyer, politician, political leader and culminating with a term as commissioner.

At that time, it was unheard of to move on so often, even if it’s more common now.

At one time in the 1990s, he was the sole Liberal member in the Yukon legislature. That also made him party leader for the moment.

Most unusually, Edelman was elected to office not long afterward, in 1996. That made the two opposition MLAs the first father-daughter team in the British Commonwealth to serve together in a legislature, she noted.

“It was very interesting working with him, the outside family dynamic,” she said.

They didn’t always get along, Edelman added, but grew to respect each other’s opinion.

“He used to say the caucus meetings were a lot easier,” (when there was only one Liberal MLA) she recalled with a laugh.

Cable was also outdoorsy, she remembered.

“He loved the adventure thing,” she said. “Overall, he was just brilliant.”

Edelman said he continued to develop interests late into life, when he became interested in gourmet food.

“He kept it going, and he loved to play Sudoku later in life to keep his mind sharp. He also loved cards. He made good friends too.”

His health had been declining in recent years, Edelman said, but his mind remained sharp.

Ron Veale, one of Cable’s long-time associates and friends, called him a “classic gentleman” and a “Renaissance Man.”

Cable had switched careers from engineering at that point, and was one of the first of an influx of lawyers and other professionals from eastern Canada heading north.

He and Veale became partners in 1973 in a Whitehorse law firm, and worked together until politics drew Cable away.

“He was there to serve the public, even as a lawyer,” Veale told the Star Thursday.

“Things that were important to other lawyers, such as billable hours, meant nothing to him. We teased him about it, but it didn’t make a difference,” added the retired Yukon Supreme Court justice, who once led the territorial Liberal party and sat in the legislature years before Cable did.

Cable had a vast range of interests, Veale said, and became absorbed with environmental issues.

He was one of the advocates who worked on installing wind turbines on Haeckel Hill, Veale recalled.

Stephen Robertson was also a friend of Cable.

“My father (Dave) considered Jack his best friend,” Robertson told the Star Thursday.

“My father was quite a creature of habit and ate lunch at the Regina Hotel every day – seven days a week if it was open.

“Jack and my father formed the core of what I always thought of as the unofficial Yukon Senate. I remember Jack most from these lunches.

“During his time as a lawyer to MLA to commissioner, Jack would debate politics knowledgeably and vehemently around that lunch table.”

Robertson remembered well Cable’s sharp – and, in occasion, rather devastating – sense of humour.

“I appreciated his humour and candour as well. When I was considering law school in my twenties, I asked Jack’s advice on the matter,” Robertson said.

“He told me that he would no more suggest I go to law school than he would that my sisters become prostitutes. I didn’t go to law school and I don’t regret it. Thanks, Jack!”

Fred Smith, a close friend of Cable’s, had just heard about his death as the Star spoke with him Thursday.

He said he was saddened to hear the news, although it was not a surprise to him.

Smith said he had last seen Cable earlier in the week, when the two couples had lunch together.

At the time, Smith said he noticed Cable had appeared to be unwell.

“I said to my wife, ‘I’m glad we had them over,’” Smith said.

He had first met Cable in the 1970s, and the pair formed a long-lasting friendship that involved religious beliefs and politics.

As with most people, he described Cable as a “gentleman”, and an avid outdoor enthusiast.

“He was a great guy, an outdoors guy, although I never went with him on any of his canoe trips.

“He was full of ideas, and many of them were good ideas. But he was also a very modest man,” Smith said.

“He will be sadly missed, but he made great contributions.”

Another former commissioner, Ione Christensen, was taken aback to hear of Cable’s passing.

“He was a great guy, and so involved in the community,” said the former mayor and Yukon senator before excusing herself from the conversation.

Another longtime friend and business associate, Shayne Fairman, reminisced about his memories of Cable.

Fairman, still a prominent lawyer in the firm Cable helped found, said Cable was a mentor to him as he began his career.

“I don’t know where to start,” Fairman said.

“I joined the firm in 1988, and he mentored me. The first term that comes to mind is that Jack was a gentleman. He was very well regarded as a lawyer, with a vast network of clients.

“He had an enormous amount of integrity,” Fairman said.

“He was well-suited to be a politician. He was a very social person, and he always wanted to talk politics. It’s the and of an era with him gone.”

In 1991, Cable was appointed president of the Yukon Energy Corp. and the Yukon Development Corp.

When he retired from politics, Cable was appointed 34th commissioner of the Yukon, a position he held until 2005.

“Whatever his duties, Jack Cable has always devoted himself to the service of the public,” the Commissioner’s office said.

“The Office of the Commissioner of the Yukon expresses deepest condolences to his wife, Fay, children Susan, Daniel, Andrew and Jennifer, other family members and many friends.”

Comments (4)

Up 0 Down 1

Marc Kealey on Jul 29, 2021 at 1:15 pm

I worked in Yukon in the early 1990's during the territorial election there where great people like Shayne Fairman, Lesley Cabot and many others as a great cast of Liberals I met and with whom I worked. One giant was Jack Cable. His focused leadership and unwavering determination and skill as a strategist helped defeat the Tony Penniket NDP government and helped pave the way for future Liberal governments in Yukon. Jack and I stayed in contact over the years. I am saddened to hear of his passing. My condolences to his family and friends - Yukon will be a little colder without him!!

Up 18 Down 2

drum on Jul 24, 2021 at 5:58 pm

Jack and Faye were members of the Golden Age Society for many years, They never missed a BBQ, Luncheon or Potluck -they loved to participate in the community.

Up 21 Down 4

Arthur Mitchell on Jul 23, 2021 at 9:13 pm

Like everyone who knew him, I will miss Jack’s sardonic wit and old school manners. Yes he was a true gentleman as many have said. He was also a quiet mentor to me as he was to many others in politics. Jack would ask a straightforward question and suggest that “you don’t want to get too far out in front of the parade.” He was always there as a sounding board and you could absolutely depend on his discretion. He will be missed.

Up 19 Down 2

Jan Brandjes on Jul 23, 2021 at 6:14 pm

Fond memories of Jack from Australia! I met Jack for the first time in 1983 when I moved to Whitehorse from the Netherlands. At that time I didn't realise what a true gentleman and caring friend he would become to me. I left the Yukon in 1995, but returned for a visit some years later when Jack was Commissioner. He hadn't changed a bit! Kind, caring and indeed always curious about the well being of others. Even from a far distance, I feel sad but also privileged to have known him.

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