After leaving for addiction treatment two months ago, former Liberal MP and fisheries minister Hunter Tootoo is headed back to the Hill. This time as an Independent. Tootoo resigned from his cabinet post and from the Liberal caucus abruptly at the end of May, citing “addiction issues.” On Wednesday, the 52-year-old sat down with his Nunavut constituents at an open house in Iqaluit. For the record, here are the remarks prepared for his opening address.
Good morning and thank you. It is really terrific to be back home and enjoy the comfort of our great territory.
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for joining me here today. I am extremely grateful for the patience you have granted me during my healing.
Many people reached out to me and offered their support. To the many Nunavummiut, Canadians, and Members of the House of Commons and Aboriginal leaders, I sincerely thank you.
You believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Those words of encouragement made all the difference in my recovery.
My family has been especially supportive of me. I want to thank my kids Eden, Taya, Cedric and Oceane for their undeniable love for me as their father, and I want to thank my brother, my mother and father for being here for me.
For me, this has been a very difficult journey. There are some deeply personal and private issues that have haunted me.
Unfortunately, alcohol is often a coping mechanism for trauma, and that trauma is far too common in our (Inuit/Indigenous) communities. I have personally been affected by those impacts.
The decision to step away was my own. I needed to devote all my energy into getting healthy. I’m committed to continuing my treatment with AA meetings.
I’m much stronger now. I’m focused, healthy and ready to move forward.
I know I let people down – my family, friends, and the people of this riding – and myself. I have work to do to regain their trust and respect. That work begins now.
I remain just as committed to my work as your Member of Parliament. I have a lot of respect for the Prime Minister and I believe in the Trudeau government.
This summer I’ll be here (Nunavut) and focused on my work. I look forward to returning to Ottawa and continuing to raise Nunavut’s issues and concerns.
Thank you again for joining me here today.