Hunter Tootoo resigns from cabinet, leaves Liberal caucus

Nunavut MP ‘will be taking time to seek treatment for addiction issues’


 
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Hunter Tootoo answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Thursday, Feb.18, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Hunter Tootoo answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Thursday, Feb.18, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo, citing “addiction issues,” has resigned from the federal cabinet and is leaving the Liberal caucus.

Dominic LeBlanc, the government’s House leader, will assume Tootoo’s cabinet responsibilities.

A statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says Tootoo is “taking time to seek treatment for addiction issues.”

Tootoo, the first northerner to take on the role of fisheries minister, issued a brief statement saying he was stepping down in order not to distract from the important work of his colleagues.

Tootoo said he has “decided to seek treatment for addiction issues” and asked for “privacy at this time.”

The nature of his addiction was not specified.

The announcement about Tootoo’s troubles drew words of support from former Ontario premier Bob Rae, who tweeted: “Wish him well in his battle.”

And Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler also took to Twitter to offer support for Tootoo on behalf of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation in northern Ontario: “sending prayers and support to Hunter Tootoo as he seeks healing.”

Tootoo was born in Rankin Inlet in 1963 and immediately had to fight for his life.

“I was medevaced (airlifted) out,” Tootoo told The Canadian Press in an interview last year.

“I was in an incubator for the first three months of my life, so I am told.”

After overcoming this struggle, Tootoo went on to live in various parts of Canada, including Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan before making his way back to the North in the early 1990s.

The 52-year-old was first elected as the MLA for Iqaluit Centre in 1999, where he served for 14 years and was the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly until 2013. He also held a number of cabinet positions in the territorial government.

In November, a month after Tootoo defeated former Conservative cabinet minister Leona Aglukkaq to claim the federal riding of Nunavut, he said in an interview he hoped to transfer his political experience to a national scale.

“I think that it is going to be very beneficial to me as we move forward,” he told The Canadian Press.

In the November interview, Tootoo said he was “very proud to be the first aboriginal person, first northern person to be appointed to this position.”

Tootoo is related to NHL player Jordin Tootoo, a forward for the New Jersey Devils, but he has been quick to quash the idea he may share some of the hockey skills honed by his cousin.

“I watch hockey,” he said in the interview. “The only sport I do is curling.”

Tootoo isn’t the first Liberal MP in this government to seek help for addiction problems.

In January, rookie Newfoundland MP Seamus O’Regan announced he was back to work after getting help for a drinking problem.


 

Hunter Tootoo resigns from cabinet, leaves Liberal caucus

  1. Two piss tanks down. More to follow.

    • Obviously, the Maclean’s Moderator hasn’t woken up today.

      • Ha! No kidding. What kind of human being even thinks like that, let alone tries to poorly verbalize it in a public forum. Shameful, really. It is when I am reminded that idiots like this exist, that I am thankful we have government bodies who will make decisions for such an adle-brained plebeian. Alas, a few of such described individuals have somehow wormed their way into government, as proven by tonight’s Macleans’ article about the moral beliefs of a certain similarly idiotic senator.

  2. Addiction is a disease, measurable in people’s brains, and genetic.
    I truly hope Mr. Tootoo is able to regain a healthy mind and body, is not stigmatized, and is able to continue on his important journey, that of seeing the rights, beliefs and issues facing the North are addresse and respected.
    It is a very brave thing to do, to seek help for a medical issue that has many unwarranted biases attached to it.
    I hope the government and the electorate are even a tenth as brave as he, and welcome him back with happiness, support and congratulations as, and when, he recovers.
    I am personally wishing more people in power can show us this kind of determination and humanity.
    You sure have my total support and well-wishes!