Saganash taking sick leave to treat alcoholism

50 posts / 0 new
Last post
theleftyinvestor
Saganash taking sick leave to treat alcoholism

.

Issues Pages: 
Regions: 
theleftyinvestor

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/10/22/pol-saganash-flight-intoxicated.html

New Democrat MP Romeo Saganash says he has a dependence on alcohol and is taking time off work, after he was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight from Montreal to Val D'or, Que., on Friday for being too drunk to fly.

The flight was delayed by half an hour as Saganash was escorted off the plane.
NDP MP Romeo Saganash, shown here at an NDP leadership debate last December, was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight last Friday for being intoxicated. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)"Neither fatigue nor stress can justify what I did. I need help to overcome a medical problem, a dependence on alcohol, like far too many other Canadians," he said in a statement late Monday afternoon.
"I have asked my leader [Tom Mulcair] to give me leave so that I can take the necessary time to treat this illness. I am deeply grateful for his support and the support of all my colleagues in this difficult period of my life."
A statement from the NDP confirmed that Saganash will be taking sick leave.
Hélène Laverdière will take over Saganash's critic responsibility for international development issues. Charlie Angus and Christine Moore will share responsibility for Saganash’s regional files.
'Profound scars'Saganash also apologized to the other passengers on the plane and to the flight crew. He said many of his colleagues can attest to the pitfalls of working in the hectic environment of Parliament Hill.
"I am not looking at excuses, but I know that profound scars were left on me because of my time in residential school. I never shied away from that. The death of my friend and mentor, Jack Layton, also greatly affected me," he said in the statement.
Saganash thanked his constituents and said his office will continue to serve them.
"My priority is to serve my constituents to the best of my abilities and it’s with deep humility that I say thank you and see you soon."
Earlier in the day, Saganash cited stress as the reason he was drinking.
"It was Friday, it had been a long week, and we're all stressed out at that time," Saganash told CBC News on Parliament Hill on Monday. "I apologize."
"This is the first time that it has happened in 30 years in the air. I regret what happened and it won't happen again," he said.
Saganash was elected to represent the northern Quebec riding of Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou in 2011. He was a well-known Cree leader and negotiator before entering federal politics.
He ran for the NDP leadership last year but dropped out partway through the campaign. His statement on Monday said the race wore him out and took him away more often from his family than his regular MP duties.

theleftyinvestor

Wishing him well. 

David Young

theleftyinvestor wrote:

Wishing him well. 

Agreed!

 

Ippurigakko

pikuseyihtamuweu miywaatisiiu.

eastnoireast

i'll take a happy drunk over an angry sober anyday. (i'm thinking of that conservative woman who tantrumed on the pei airport staff).

sounds like romeo will figure it out, end up stronger.

bet his kids will see him more !

lagatta

I certainly wish him well, but I also wonder very much whether such an issue would even be raised if he were a pink-faced white guy like Rob Ford (who has been hauled in for DUIs and other very serious problems).

I've seen Saganash at several events, and never inebriated. Some of these events involved (optional) drinking - I don't even remember - or give a shit - whether he was having a beer or glass of wine at the time, as were many of us. He certainly wasn't abusing anything.

I'm kind of suspicious about labelling people based on a crisis situation.

Saganash has always been a guy who took good care of himself - and his family - and kept fit.

Unionist

lagatta wrote:
I've seen Saganash at several events, and never inebriated. Some of these events involved (optional) drinking - I don't even remember - or give a shit - whether he was having a beer or glass of wine at the time, as were many of us. He certainly wasn't abusing anything. I'm kind of suspicious about labelling people based on a crisis situation.

Lagatta, he himself has said [url=http://romeosaganash.ndp.ca/post/statement-by-mp-romeo-sagansh]in a public statement[/url] that he's suffering from alcoholism and is taking measures now to deal with it:

Quote:
I have asked my leader to give me leave so that I can take the necessary time to treat this illness. I am deeply grateful for his support and the support of all my colleagues in this difficult period of my life.

That took a lot of courage IMHO, having dealt all my life with fellow workers who were in total denial until far worse crises than getting barred from a flight. I don't think now is the time to be in denial on his behalf. We should wish him well and offer him full support on his road to rehabilitation.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

lagatta wrote:

I certainly wish him well, but I also wonder very much whether such an issue would even be raised if he were a pink-faced white guy like Rob Ford (who has been hauled in for DUIs and other very serious problems).

My first thought was what did he do and so far I have not read anything other than he was "to drunk to fly."  What does to drunk to fly mean?  I wonder if the threshold for "to drunk to fly" is lower for a FN's person.  Some of the charters to sunny spots would have no one left if just being drunk was the criteria. Pass the mimosas.

janfromthebruce

I wish him well in getting healthy.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

A brave and honest public admission. I wish him courage and support in healing. And I wish we had more politicians like him.

Mr.Tea

Classy statement from a good guy. A lot of good people have struggled with alcohol and overcome it to lead productive lives and I'm sure he will too.

lagatta

In general, he is a very healthy person. Personally I don't think such public admissions are necessary.

I have a story about that. A long time ago - almost 20 years - I was bawling my eyes out at a bus stop, going home. (I was not only heartbroken but had been rendered destitute by a shithole of a man). I wasn't drunk, but had consumed a bit of wine, in good company, with friends and a good meal. There were a couple of Native women at the same stop, telling me to be careful, or "they'd pick me up". Of course I was terrified and suddenly contained my emotions.

But the whole tale was a sad comment on whenever an Indigenous person is a bit tipsy or even too sad, he or she is a "problem" to be dealt with.

Michelle

I'm sorry to hear this, and hope Saganash finds space and time for healing.

I also have to wonder, though, like kropotkin, whether the line of "too drunk to fly" is drawn a little closer to the sober line for Indigenous people than for others.  His point about flights to sunspots, where they serve mixed umbrella drinks on board to get people loosened up and in the mood for their week-long drinking party at an all-inclusive, is well-taken.  It doesn't sound from the story like he was acting unruly, or they'd have mentioned that too, I'm sure.

That said, if Saganash himself says he has a problem and needs time off to work on it, then best wishes to him.

lagatta

Oh, I certainly agree with everyone's best wishes - hope that goes without saying. But having worked quite a bit on Indigenous questions (especially as concerns cultural creations, but also on "issues", I very much think there is a double standard.

The "drunken Indian" (or Inuit) stereotype is still very much alive - remember that it was raised in my own part of town by the opponents to converting the former - and unused - Hôpital Chinois in Villeray to a temporary residence and centre for Inuit flown down from Nunavik for medical care "down south". And irony of irony, one of the main opponents was the owner of a nearby trendy bar.

Unionist, I'd read and heard Saganash's statement, but was disappointed that he even had to make it.

janfromthebruce

I agree with the racist stereo type of "drunken Indian" and how the line may be drawn closer on First Nation bodies and not on the white priveleged bodies. But we don't know and can only go on what supposed facts are provided and what Romeo says.

I wish too that we had more NDP MPs like Romeo and I do not want him to quit or to feel he let people down. I saw him speak this summer for a local fundraiser in my area and he was wonderful.

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

I wish Judy Sgro had shut her yap.

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

Mr. Sagenesh, we DO have your back here Sir. Let us know, and take care.

Bacchus

Too drunk to fly is 'supposed' to be applied to anyone visibly heavily inebriated, unable to walk easily or talk coherently. Apparently such drunkeness gets worse in the air or some such thing.  Someone with a buzz on is not supposed to be pulled for that.

 

Im not saying he was, just that it is a term that airlines apply to customers at the gate. Something Ive watched on that reality show about Southwest Airlines with all the hidden cameras

socialdemocrati...

Addictions are hard to beat. I'm sure everyone has someone in their family who has gone through it. I wish him a speedy recovery.

I have a lot of confidence in Romeo. He did the right thing, stepping forward and taking responsibility before things got out of control. That's more than a lot of other politicians do.

 

toaster

I think he should step down.  If the same thing was true for a member of the other side, I would surely want them to get treatment, but also to resign.  He cannot properly represent his constituents while in treatment, especially not in such a huge riding that requires one to travel hours by plane to remote areas to get to the constituents.  Mr. Angus already has a huge riding to take care of, as does Ms. Moore (to a lesser extent).  I wish him well, regardless.  Surely it would be an NDP hold.

onlinediscountanvils

toaster wrote:
I think he should step down.  If the same thing was true for a member of the other side, I would surely want them to get treatment, but also to resign.  He cannot properly represent his constituents while in treatment

 

Our system allows a seat in the House of Commons to be vacant 180 days before a by-election must be called, so surely the work of one opposition MP is not so vital that he can't take a temporary leave to seek treatment for an illness.

6079_Smith_W

Considering how well many Harperite MPS represent their constituents I'm not so sure that is a good comparison. 

As well, if we make sickness grounds for resignation (as opposed to not doing the job properly) what kind of sickness are we talking about? I for one am glad that Chuck Cadman didn't step down in the face of his illness.

 

mark_alfred

toaster wrote:

I think he should step down.  If the same thing was true for a member of the other side, I would surely want them to get treatment, but also to resign. 

Not me.  I'm a firm believer that all workplaces should be set up to take into account that we are all humans who, at times, are fallible and may sometimes need time off.

Stockholm

Now that Romeo Saganash is taking a leave of absence to be treated for a condition called "alcoholism" - i wonder when Rob Anders will take a leave of absence to undergo treatment for a pathological condition called "being Rob Anders"!

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Stockholm wrote:

Now that Romeo Saganash is taking a leave of absence to be treated for a condition called "alcoholism" - i wonder when Rob Anders will take a leave of absence to undergo treatment for a pathological condition called "being Rob Anders"!

Will Stephen Harper take a leave of absence to undergo treatment for a pathological condition called "being Stephen Harper"?

Will __________ (fill in the blanks)  take a leave of absence to undergo treatment for a pathological condition called "being _____________"?

.....and  so on and so forth. Smile

toaster

mark_alfred wrote:

toaster wrote:

I think he should step down.  If the same thing was true for a member of the other side, I would surely want them to get treatment, but also to resign. 

Not me.  I'm a firm believer that all workplaces should be set up to take into account that we are all humans who, at times, are fallible and may sometimes need time off.

 

Parliament is quite different than other workplaces.  You are elected to represent constituents.  By definition, you can't do that when you are getting treatment. Other workplaces would surely fill the position until the employee was fit to come back to work, and unfortunately that cannot be done in parliament.  The only alternative is for Mr. Saganash to resign and return at the next election.  Much like Mme. Savoie, who stepped down for her treatment, I think Mr. Saganash should do the same.

love is free love is free's picture

personally, i think this whole thing is nonsense.  i guess that it's probably more likely that the guy got bombed and embarrassed himself, then something happened as a consequence - either mulcair or caucus whoever linked that up with a past incident, or he did or whatever and, anyway, this whole 'alcohol dependence' thing was cooked up.  if he was just another guy and not an mp, or even a tory or liberal mp, he'd have gone back to his hotel and slept it off and taken another flight whenever, and it'd have been a "wow, sort of funny i got so drunk that they wouldn't let me fly" type thing that he might laugh about with colleagues and friends.  but no, he's an aboriginal mp, so it's a big deal and he has to do this public penance and that.

and even if saganash is an alcoholic, he's obviously a very high-functioning one who has achieved an enormous amount in his life, making the fact of his alcohol dependence totally irrelevant, aside from the odd behavior from time to time.  something has happened in this country where being a good time charlie is medicalized.

mark_alfred

love is free wrote:

something has happened in this country where being a good time charlie is medicalized.

Yes, everything is so serious and boring these days.  Sometimes I wish I lived in the times of Sir John A. Macdonald, when members of parliament would openly drink and have fist-fights right in the House of Commons.

mark_alfred

love is free wrote:

if he was just another guy and not an mp, or even a tory or liberal mp, he'd have gone back to his hotel and slept it off and taken another flight whenever, and it'd have been a "wow, sort of funny i got so drunk that they wouldn't let me fly" type thing that he might laugh about with colleagues and friends.  but no, he's an aboriginal mp, so it's a big deal and he has to do this public penance and that.

That's an interesting speculation.  I find often that minorities are held up to a higher standard than are those from the dominant culture.  So, your speculation could have some merit.  However, I think it's more likely that Saganash himself requested time off, rather than being nudged by "mulcair or caucus whoever" to do so. 

love is free love is free's picture

mark_alfred wrote:

love is free wrote:

something has happened in this country where being a good time charlie is medicalized.

Yes, everything is so serious and boring these days.  Sometimes I wish I lived in the times of Sir John A. Macdonald, when members of parliament would openly drink and have fist-fights right in the House of Commons.

i'm referring more to the shift over time from overdrinking as a matter for moral approbrium to overdrinking as a matter for medical treatment.  i see an unbroken line of 'discipline', a track very similar to that enjoyed by homosexuality qua concept, though in northern canada very much racialized.  i just reject completely the value judgment inherent in any such construct, it's just bunk.  in this case, we have - i'll say it again - an extremely succeessful individual, who overcame enormous barriers, who is being forced into an identity box based on a series of behaviors that themselves have no inherent meaning.  drunks are, by definition, people whose consumption of alcohol has inhibited their success, people whose family lives and community involvement are ruined because of the drink.  unless they're aboriginal, in which case they're drunks if they have too much too drink.  i don't think he should be apologizing and sitting it out until he's 'medically sound', i think he should go out there and say "well, had a few too many, sorry to anyone who i was rude too.  back to work."  that's what any white mp would do because that's what the party and country would expect.  here, they expect that the act of overdrinking means the guy is a drunk and he has to go along with that.

hopefully pat martin or someone comes out and says straight up - "whatever, saganash has nothing to account for, now piss off."

Unionist

Romeo is suffering from a medical disability. He has had the exceptional courage to face up to it publicly and explain the measures he is taking to deal with it. Can we not congratulate him, express empathy, and wish him well? Turning this into an issue of racism is really missing the mark. So is the very offensive suggestion that he should resign. I didn't see too many calls for Jack Layton to resign.

6079_Smith_W

As well, I am sure speculation about his political future and putting this whole situation under the microscope is going to make other people in a similar situation feel really comfortable about taking that step and seeking treatment.

mark_alfred

6079_Smith_W wrote:

As well, I am sure speculation about his political future and putting this whole situation under the microscope is going to make other people in a similar situation feel really comfortable about taking that step and seeking treatment.

I've only seen the one original news article about it.  I haven't seen much in the way of him being under a microscope.

onlinediscountanvils

love is free wrote:
i think he should go out there and say "well, had a few too many, sorry to anyone who i was rude too.  back to work."  that's what any white mp would do because that's what the party and country would expect.  here, they expect that the act of overdrinking means the guy is a drunk and he has to go along with that.

 

If that's how he had chosen to handle the situation, I'd have supported him, just as I support his taking a leave to seek treatment. It appears to me that the decision to seek treatment came from Saganash himself, even before his removal from the plane became public knowledge. I don't see where the expectations of party and country came into play. If he feels he has a problem with drinking and wants help, it's not my place to second-guess him.

love is free love is free's picture

bah, he had no choice.  and at any rate, we'll never figure out the whole story.

Mr.Tea

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Saganash seems like an honest and straightforward guy. He was the one to say that he has a drinking problem and is taking time to get the help he needs. That was a brave thing to do and the right course to take. Aside from simply wishing him all the best as he deals with this challenge, I think we should grant him his privacy during what is no doubt a difficult time.

Lou Arab Lou Arab's picture

I'd like to note that Ralph Klein admitted to drinking too much after the homeless shelter event and didn't resign as Premier.

Gordon Campbell was arrested for driving drunk.  He didn't quit.

Mr.Tea

And long-time Liberal MP and cabinet minister at the time John McCallum got kicked off a plane for being intoxicated as well. A Toronto City Councillor was arrested a couple weeks back for driving drunk. Neither resigned. Former Attorney General for Ontario Michael Bryant has recently stated taht he is a recovering alcoholic. Maybe there's something in a politician's lifestyle with long hours, stress of being in the public eye and long periods away from family combined with attending lots of events where alcohol is served that can make them more likely to develop a problem

KenS

If you think this is overblown, then you must not be up close enough to alcoholics, or not paid attention, or something.

Yes, medicalization of everything CAN be a problem. Alcoholism is a far more serious and intractable problem. Its tough to kick... let alone at least half of them are in complete denial or dont try.

Nor is it stress. Things like being a politician can tip alcolholism into a worsening spiral, but they do not 'bring it on.'

Alcoholism kills. Maybe that isnt so apparent until you know more people 50 and over. But a lot of younger people have a family member on that road.

This is very courageous of Romeo. Even with the recent events resloving him to do something about his alcoholism, he could have continued mumbling through a public denial, as he started doing. I'm sure he went fully public becaue he knew that HE needed that. Good for him.

Unionist

addictedtomyipod

I sat beside Romeo for dinner last year and he told me the story of why he was called Romeo.  It is such an unusal name for him that I'm sure people always ask.

When his Mum was pregnant with him, the float plane pilot that flew in to pick them up was named Romeo.  So in honour of his quick response to her need, his Mum decided to name him after the pilot.  They had a reunion after all these years not long ago too.  Happy Birthday Romeo....Oct. 29th, 1961, one full day before mine:))

 

An upstanding guy and wish him well so he can get back to work and better the lives of Canadians through the NDP.

lagatta

Ken, of course stress can't bring on alcoholism (or other forms of substance abuse including cigarette smoking) but it can sure as hell cause a relapse (une rechute).

By the way, an old friend of ours died of a combination of heavy drinking and chain smoking not long ago.

Both of these had been long-standing, but both greatly and fatally increased after his retirement and return to his country and city of birth. He had pretty much walled himself off from everyone else; it was a kind of suicide.

I am no more ignorant or clueless than you are, and I am over 50. What I greatly dislike is the cult of mandatory public confession.

KenS

I know what you are saying.

But I dont think Romeo is following the the cult of mandatory public confession. He has been around long enough that he could easily have continued minimizing it, for his public face and credibility, while going about the business of getting help.

I think its pretty clear he CHOSE this as part of his recovery.

I think one of the additional pressures on Romeo is being 'Romeo the Hero and Bulwork'- for his people, for his family, as a national figure. Healing for Romeo probably includes getting some space from that.

[And for the record lagatta, i dont think what you said earlier about alcoholism sounded at all clueless.]

And the point about age conext of how you feel about it, is because I know I hadnt always been aware of it. The people in my life who I know are on track for killing themselves, when I was younger I just thought that the same people drank too much for their own good.

socialdemocrati...

Yeah, KenS is right. Some politicians do the apology as a face-saving measure, and then figure out the right actions to fix their political career. Romeo decided to deal with his alcoholism first, and then added a public statement as part of his journey to recovery.

theleftyinvestor

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/2013/01/10/20486526.html

OTTAWA - The NDP's Romeo Saganash will head back to work Monday following a leave of absence to deal with a "dependence on alcohol."

Beginning in late October, the MP of Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou in Quebec took time off after he was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight when was deemed too drunk to fly.

Saganash said his "behaviour caused an unfortunate incident" that delayed the flight from Montreal to Val-d'Or, Que.

A lot has changed in the political landscape since October. He will be a good voice to hear again. 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Just heard of this...I wish Mr. Saganash well...he's a good person and it's a good sign that he wants to address this, for whatever reason. 

This could be any of us, under the right combination of circumstances.  As Phil Ochs put it "There, But For Fortune, go you or I".

theleftyinvestor

As someone who has been keeping silent thus far for purely personal reasons, I hope Saganash's re-entry into the public eye will be a positive development for Idle No More.

David Young

theleftyinvestor wrote:

As someone who has been keeping silent thus far for purely personal reasons, I hope Saganash's re-entry into the public eye will be a positive development for Idle No More.

Agreed!

 

theleftyinvestor

Sorry for the crosspost.

Romeo Saganash has returned to the public eye with quite an entrance - a multi-part interview with Aaron Wherry. Part One:

http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/01/16/qa-romeo-saganash-part-one/

Part Two:

http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/01/16/qa-romeo-saganash-part-two/