Minister responsible for Canada’s northern affairs steps away from cabinet for cancer treatment

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Dominic LeBlanc, the federal minister of intergovernmental affairs and northern affairs, announced on Friday afternoon that he is temporarily stepping away from cabinet after recently being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“A few weeks ago, I consulted with my doctor for what began as flu-like symptoms. After a series of tests, my doctor has diagnosed me with a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” LeBlanc said in a joint statement with his doctor.

“I will be temporarily stepping away from my cabinet duties to focus on my health. I have begun my treatment, and it will last several weeks. Once I have concluded my treatment, I look forward to returning to my role in cabinet.”

Dr. Nicholas Finn, LeBlanc’s oncologist at the Dr. Georges-L. Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton, N.B., said in a joint statement that “non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a treatable condition, and the minister had a positive response to the initial treatments.”

“Like thousands of Canadians living with cancer, Minister LeBlanc looks forward to going back to work once the treatments are completed,” Finn explained.

In his statement, LeBlanc said he still intends to run as the Liberal candidate in the New Brunswick riding of Beauséjour.

LeBlanc was diagnosed with lymphocytic lymphoma in 2017, when he was fisheries minister. Last October, he announced that that cancer was in remission.

LeBlanc, a childhood friend of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and an experienced partisan, was moved to intergovernmental affairs in July 2018, seemingly in response to the arrival of Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives government in Ontario.

“Dominic, you are a trusted cabinet minister and a close friend — and I’m happy you made the decision to focus on your health and your family during this difficult time,” Trudeau said in a statement.

“You have our full support, and we look forward to having you back at the cabinet table soon.”

Trudeau announced that Finance Minister Bill Morneau will temporarily take responsibility for intergovernmental affairs, while Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, will take over LeBlanc’s duties for northern affairs.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s northern food security program has ‘lost its way’, says minister Dominic LeBlanc, CBC News

Finland: Outgoing Finnish PM Sipilä to step down as Centre Party chair following poor election results, Yle News

Russia: Russia’s resources minister to open new Arctic office, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish PM Stefan Löfven unveils new cabinet, Radio Sweden

United States: Agency supporting Alaska’s rural development has new leader, Alaska Public Media

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