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Jack Layton

Jack Layton temporarily steps down as federal NDP leader to fight new form of cancer

Jack Layton earlier today announced that he has a new form of cancer, the treatment of which will require him to temporarily step down as federal NDP leader. Accompanied by his wife, MP Oliva Chow, a gaunt-looking Layton delivered the news in a notably raspy voice at press conference in Toronto. Although PSA levels related to his previous prostate cancer diagnosis have remained low, Layton has already received treatment for the unspecified new cancer at Princess Margaret hospital.

Despite the somber news, the 61-year-old Layton was optimistic at his prospect for recovery. "I'm hopeful and optimistic about the personal battle that lies before me," he said defiantly. "I will beat this new cancer and I will be back in the House of Commons to defend the values of Canadians and their families."

The next session of parliament resumes on September 19th. In the meantime, Layton has recommended that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel, who is also the national chair of the NDP caucus, take over as interim leader. The NDP caucus will convene on Wednesday to consider the recommendation, with a decision expected on Thursday afternoon.

Update (2:45 p.m.):

Here is the full text of Jack Layton's statement today.


On February 5th, 2010 I shared with Canadians that I, like 25,000 other Canadian men every year, had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

I have received overwhelming support from my loving family, my friends, my caucus and party, and thousands of everyday Canadians.

Their stories and support have touched me. And I have drawn strength and inspiration from them.

In the closing days of the most recent session of the House of Commons, I suffered from some stiffness and pain.

After the House rose, I undertook a series of tests at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.

My battle against prostate cancer is going very well. My PSA levels remain virtually undetectable.

However, these tests, whose results I received last week, also indicate that I have a new, non-prostate cancer that will require further treatment.

So, on the advice of my doctors, I am going to focus on treatment and recovery.

I will therefore be taking a temporary leave of absence as Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada. I'm going to fight this cancer now, so I can be back to fight for families when Parliament resumes.

To that end, I have requested that the President of our party, Brian Topp, consult our Parliamentary caucus and then convene a meeting of our party's federal council to appoint an interim leader.

The interim leader will serve until I resume my duties.

I intend to do so when Parliament meets on September 19th.

I am also making a recommendation on who the interim leader should be.

I suggest that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel be named interim leader during this period.

Ms. Turmel enjoys unanimous support as the national chair of our Parliamentary caucus. She is an experienced national leader in both official languages. And she will do an excellent job as our national interim leader.

Let me conclude by saying this.

If I have tried to bring anything to federal politics, it is the idea that hope and optimism should be at their heart.

We CAN look after each other better than we do today. We CAN have a fiscally responsible government. We CAN have a strong economy; greater equality; a clean environment.

We CAN be a force for peace in the world.

I am as hopeful and optimistic about all of this as I was the day I began my political work, many years ago.

I am hopeful and optimistic about the personal battle that lies before me in the weeks to come.

And I am very hopeful and optimistic that our party will continue to move forward.

We WILL replace the Conservative government, a few short years from now.

And we WILL work with Canadians to build the country of our hopes

Of our dreams

Of our optimism

Of our determination

Of our values...

Of our love.

Thank you.

Jack Layton


Photo by Matt Jiggins on Flickr

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