Home Page News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Advertising Subscribe Reuse & Permissions
Hill Times Events Hill Times Books Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Hill Life & People

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc diagnosed with leukemia

By Marco Vigliotti      

He begins treatment next week for a kind of cancer his doctor described as 'a chronic disease' that must be monitored, but can be controlled.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced Wednesday he has been diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, but says he will continue to serve in cabinet as he seeks treatment.
The Hill Times file photograph

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with cancer, but has ruled out resigning from cabinet or Parliament as he seeks treatment.

Mr. LeBlanc (Beauséjour, N.B.), who turns 50 next week, revealed his diagnosis in a statement to the media, saying the chronic lymphocytic leukemia was detected during his annual physical exam last spring when his family doctor noticed an anomaly in his white blood cell count.

The longtime Liberal MP said he was immediately referred to specialist Dr. Nicholas Finn, a hematologist-oncologist at the Dr. Georges-L. Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton, N.B., and after more tests and consultations was diagnosed in April.

He said he would continue serving as an MP and cabinet minister, including during treatments.

The statement, released through Mr. LeBlanc’s ministerial office, quoted Dr. Finn. “CLL is a chronic disease in the sense that it must be closely monitored and sometimes treated, but can be controlled. CLL is one of the most common types of leukemia in adults,” said the doctor.

The stage of the condition leaves the minister with flexibility to schedule treatments that fit his work schedule. They will start next week and conclude this spring, according to the statement, at which point Mr. LeBlanc can then expect “a pause in treatment for many years, with only routine follow-up.”

Mr. LeBlanc said the parliamentary calendar gives him the flexibility to start the treatments now, as MPs are about to embark on a winter break scheduled to run Dec. 15 to Jan. 29.

“I am confident that this will not impact the work I will continue to do for Canadians,” he was quoted as saying. Within a few hours of his announcement Wednesday, Mr. LeBlanc was answering questions from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.) in Question Period, as the prime minister was away on a trip to China.

Mr. LeBlanc also expressed gratitude for the “kind attention” he was receiving from doctors, saying he and his wife, Jolène, “realize many Canadians face health challenges much more difficult than this.”

Mr. LeBlanc was first elected to the House in 2000. His late father, Roméo, was governor general from 1995 to 1999. Dominic LeBlanc served as a parliamentary secretary and chair of the Liberal Atlantic caucus during parts of the Chrétien and Martin governments.

After the Liberals were defeated in the 2006 election, he held a number of high-profile critic portfolios and later launched a leadership bid to replace Stéphane Dion after he announced his intention to step down after the party’s poor showing in the 2008 vote. However, Mr. LeBlanc bowed out of the race less than two months later to throw his support to Michael Ignatieff, who was eventually acclaimed leader after Bob Rae also stepped aside.

Mr. LeBlanc won his toughest re-election fight in 2011 amidst a disastrous showing for the Liberals nationwide that saw the once-dominant party slip to third place, but recovered by winning nearly 70 per cent of the vote four years later as the Grits swept the Atlantic provinces en route to a majority government.

Seen as a close friend to Mr. Trudeau, Mr. LeBlanc was appointed government House leader immediately after the Liberals assumed power in 2015.

He was handed the additional portfolio of Fisheries and Oceans in the spring of 2016, replacing Hunter Tootoo (Nunavut) after he resigned to seek treatment for his alcohol addiction. Mr. LeBlanc was replaced as House leader months later by Bardish Chagger (Waterloo, Ont.), but kept the fisheries role.

Many of Mr. LeBlanc’s Hill colleagues were quick to offer their support after news broke on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) taking to Twitter to commend his close friend.

“We’re all thinking of you today…but we also know you’ll continue to excel as a minister and MP,” the prime minister wrote. “My friend, you have my full support, always.”

United Conservative Party of Alberta leader and former House sparring partner Jason Kenney also chimed in on Twitter, calling Mr. LeBlanc “one of the best” and saying he was rooting from him as he dealt with the health problem. Green Party leader Elizabeth May said she was “sending much love and support” to the minister and his family.

And NDP MP Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley, B.C.) wrote that the diagnosis was “difficult news to hear,” and said his thoughts were with Mr. LeBlanc and his family.

mvigliotti@hilltimes.com

The Hill Times 

More in News

Military activities, veterans’ support, Phoenix fix big-ticket items in $4B new spending ask

News|By Emily Haws
The Department of National Defence and other departments providing services to active and retired members of the Armed Forces are taking up a sizeable chunk of the $4-billion in extra spending the Liberals have put…

Singh will have to showcase ‘political guts,’ clear progressive message to connect with voters

New leader Jagmeet Singh will have to live up to his promise to boldly dig deeper into social democratic values or he'll risk alienating NDP grassroots as the party tries to create distance from the Liberal…

Texting, sit-downs, and lots of waiting in hotel rooms: the ins and outs of NAFTA lobbying

News|By Shruti Shekar
Dozens of industry groups are dispatching executives to every round of the NAFTA renegotiation, and using texts, emails, and phone calls to try to talk to Canada's negotiating leads about what is being discussed with…

Trudeau, Wilson-Raybould justified in speaking out after controversial Stanley verdict, marked a turning point for Canada, say MPs

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould were right to speak out after the verdict in the Gerald Stanley trial, say Liberal and NDP Parliamentarians, who believe the government and Parliament have to…

What happens if an MP’s found guilty of sexual harassment? No one’s saying

News|By Abbas Rana
All the federal political parties say they take sexual harassment “seriously,” but none will say what disciplinary action they would take against an MP found guilty of it. “We take sexual harassment allegations very seriously,…

Feds’ sweeping, new environmental assessment bill keeps power in ministers’ hands, say observers

The government’s new Impact Assessment Act includes hundreds of pages detailing changes to the environmental assessment process in Canada, but keeps ultimate power over approving natural resource projects in the hands of the federal environment…

NDP reviewing past, present harassment processes amid Stoffer, Weir allegations

The NDP isn’t currently investigating the specific harassment allegations against former NDP MP Peter Stoffer, but it says it's looking into how such complaints were, are now and will be handled, something strategist Robin Sears…

Patrick Brown gaining support since re-emerging to challenge sexual harassment allegations, says adviser, though Conservative MPs largely quiet

Patrick Brown, who in a dramatic move re-entered the Ontario leadership late Friday afternoon, is receiving strong support from all corners of the political world since publicly re-emerging to challenge the sexual harassment allegations that…

NDP elects former Hill staffer Vick as new party president

NDP members elected a new party president on the last day of the party’s 2018 policy convention, with former Hill staffer Mathieu Vick being elevated to the role after garnering roughly 83 per cent of…

WANT MORE EXCLUSIVE HILL TIMES CONTENT?

We’re offering 15% off a year-long subscription to the hill times online content.