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'If I tried to bring anything to federal politics, it's hope and optimism': Layton announces temporary leave as NDP leader

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It has been year and a half since NDP Leader Jack Layton first announced that he had prostate cancer, on February 5, 2010. Over that time, despite consistent speculation about the state of his health, Layton led the NDP to its historic status as Official Opposition in the spring federal election. The "Orange Wave" that led to a reconfiguration of the political landscape in Canada, has largely been credited on Jack's personal popularity among Canadians.

Today, at a media conference held in Toronto, the NDP leader announced that he would be stepping back from the NDP leadership for a period of time in order to focus on his health.

The NDP federal caucus will meet on Wednesday, and the Federal Council will meet to appoint a temporary federal leader.  Layton has recommended Gatineau MP Nycole Turmel, former PSAC President, as interim leader.

Read Layton's statement below.

The NDP has set up a page for Canadians to send their best wishes to Jack: http://www.ndp.ca/get-well-jack

Follow the discussion on Jack and the future of the NDP, add your own thoughts, on rabble's discussion boards, babble.

Jack Layton's statement

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

 

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