Fish­eries min­is­ter to be treated for can­cer

Ottawa Citizen - - POLITICS - JOAN BRY­DEN

OT­TAWA • Do­minic Le­Blanc has been di­ag­nosed with leukemia, but says he’s con­fi­dent that won’t get in the way of his work as fed­eral fish­eries min­is­ter.

In a joint state­ment Wed­nes­day with his on­col­o­gist, Le­Blanc re­vealed that he was di­ag­nosed last April with chronic lym­pho­cytic leukemia af­ter his fam­ily doc­tor no­ticed an anom­aly in his white blood cell count dur­ing his an­nual phys­i­cal.

He­ma­tol­o­gist-on­col­o­gist Dr. Ni­cholas Finn de­scribed the dis­ease as “one of the most com­mon types of leukemia in adults.”

“CLL is a chronic dis­ease in the sense that it must be closely mon­i­tored and some­times treated but can be con­trolled,” he said.

Le­Blanc, 49, is sched­uled to be­gin treat­ments next week, which will con­clude in the spring. Finn said Le­Blanc can then ex­pect a pause be­tween treat­ments “for many years, with only rou­tine fol­low-ups.”

Due to the stage of his con­di­tion, he added that Le­Blanc has the flex­i­bil­ity to sched­ule treat­ments in a way “that will have min­i­mal im­pact on his work.”

“Like tens of thou­sands of Cana­di­ans liv­ing with chronic ill­ness, I will con­tinue to work and to serve as a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and cabi­net min­is­ter, in­clud­ing dur­ing treat­ments,” said Le­Blanc.

He rec­og­nized that “many Cana­di­ans face health chal­lenges much more dif­fi­cult than this,” adding that he’s “con­fi­dent that this will not im­pact the work I will con­tinue to do for Cana­di­ans.”

Le­Blanc said start­ing treat­ments next week “could not have hap­pened at a bet­ter time” given the par­lia­men­tary cal­en­dar. The House of Com­mons is sched­uled to break at the end of next week and won’t re­sume sit­ting un­til the end of Jan­uary.

Le­Blanc is one of the long­est-serv­ing MPs in the largely rookie Lib­eral cau­cus, hav­ing rep­re­sented the New Brunswick rid­ing of Beause­jour for 17 years. He’s been a friend of Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau since child­hood, when Trudeau’s fa­ther, Pierre, was prime min­is­ter and Le­Blanc’s fa­ther, Romeo, was fish­eries min­is­ter. Romeo Le­Blanc, who died in 2009, also served as gov­er­nor general from 1995-1999.

All this week — in­clud­ing Wed­nes­day, only a cou­ple of hours af­ter is­su­ing the state­ment — Le­Blanc has been fill­ing in for Trudeau, who is in China, dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod in the House of Com­mons. He de­flected op­po­si­tion jabs Wed­nes­day with his cus­tom­ary par­ti­san en­thu­si­asm.

No one on the op­po­si­tion benches di­rectly men­tioned Le­Blanc’s con­di­tion, un­til the clos­ing mo­ments of ques­tion pe­riod when it was Green party Leader El­iz­a­beth May’s turn to pose a ques­tion.

“It’s tricky to do this but I can’t ask my ques­tion un­til I ex­press what I think is in all of our hearts — best wishes to the min­is­ter of fish­eries as he faces his new health chal­lenges,” she said to ap­plause all around.

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