‘I need help to overcome a medical problem’

A statement from NDP MP Romeo Saganash about the incident on board an Air Canada flight.

Both as a Member of Parliament and a member of the New Democrat caucus, it is my duty to follow a code of conduct in keeping with my role as a Member of Parliament and the confidence that my constituents placed in me when they elected me.

Last Friday, my behaviour caused an unfortunate incident that delayed an Air Canada flight between Montreal and Val-d’Or. I want to apologize to the other passengers and staff for what happened and for any inconvenience I caused them. I would also like to offer my sincere apologies to Air Canada and the Aéroports de Montréal.

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.

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. Like him, I needed a crutch. The leadership race wore me out, on top of taking me away from my children and my loved ones even more often.

Life on Parliament Hill can be hectic and exciting, but it is also full of obstacles and pitfalls. Many of my colleagues can attest to this.

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.

I would like to thank the citizens of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou for their constant support in this difficult period of my life and ask for their understanding. I can assure them that my office will continue to serve them and that my New Democrat colleagues will be available to help while I’m on sick leave.

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.

According to the NDP, Hélène Laverdière will assume Mr. Saganash’s critic responsibilities for international development, while Charlie Angus and Christine Moore will take over Mr. Saganash’s regional responsibilities.




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‘I need help to overcome a medical problem’

  1. Honest, and took responsibility….good for him.

    • Shocking! If he were a CPC MP, he’d be kicked out of caucus for that. Not for his actions; for having the gall to apologize and take ownership.

      • Yes, every incident that happens on this planet — including an NDP MP getting sh*tfaced on an airplane — is proof that Conservatives are scummy. Well done, Keith.

        • Name one time when a CPC member has ever stood and apologized for their inappropriate behaviour or other bad acts without going through days or weeks of denial and mudslinging first.

          That’s what I thought.

          His behaviour on the plane was reprehensible. He owned up to it and is doing something about it with the support of his party. If only those across the aisle in the HoC would follow his example, Parliament – and Canada – would be much better off.

          • Quoth Keith:
            “Name one time when a CPC member has ever stood and apologized for their inappropriate behaviour or other bad acts without going through days or weeks of denial and mudslinging first.”
            Ahem:
            “A Conservative MP who on Wednesday told an Ottawa radio station that former residential school students need a stronger work ethic, not more compensation dollars, has apologized for his comments.
            Pierre Poilievre apologized Thursday for questioning the value of residential school compensation. (CBC)
            Pierre Poilievre stood in the House of Commons Thursday to say he was sorry for his remarks, which were made just hours before Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a public, formal apology to former students of the native residential school program.
            “Yesterday on a day when the House and all Canadians were celebrating a new beginning, I made remarks that were hurtful and wrong,” Poilievre said.
            “I accept responsibility for them and I apologize.”
            So Keith, you’re wrong. Perhaps you should apologize.

          • OK; that’s one. From 2008. I apologize for exaggerating… slightly.

          • ALL HUNAMS, we know you are forceful and all but if you would PLEASE JUST GO AWAY we can all return to our homeplanet of spathiwa.

          • Now you want people to apologize for “medical problems” if they are members of the Conservative Party? Well, this member didn’t apologize without making a few excuses of his own…hardly a poster child for AA. Let’s not throw a celebration yet.

          • No; for bad behaviour, inappropriate statements, lying to Parliament (and the country) and all the other BS they pull. Just one example: Bev Oda. Yeah, she eventually caved, but it took a hell of a lot of blowback to get her to do so.

            Still waiting for an apology from Toews for saying I support child pornographers.

          • Cons don’t need to take responsibility, their followers let them get away with anything. It’s a bloody cult.

          • Well that isn’t exactly what you said Keith. Admitting to an addiction is not in anyway in the same realm as any other issues. Addictions are seen to be medical illnesses. There should never be a partisan issue related to them. People with a good chance of recovery should feel free to express that they are ill and “powerless” in the face of their addiction. There are no excuses either required or expressed. It is what it is.

          • It wasn’t his addiction per se that he was apologizing for; rather, he apologized for his bad behaviour (which he blamed on his addiction).

            But aren’t you being a bit hypocritical? Earlier you were blasting him for using his alcoholism as an excuse.

          • No, I think you misunderstood. I never “blasted” him for using his addiction to alcholism for an excuse for being drunk on the plane. Rather, I pointed out that to be successful in a 12 step program you cannot blame “outside stressors” for your indulging in alcohol…..ie your being in a residential school or your good friend dying or the stress of the campaign trail. In the 12 step program you must accept responsibility for your actions…you drank to excess…you hurt others by drinking to excess…with no excuses. If you make excuses for your excessive drinking then you will always find reasons to drink when you are under stress. I merely pointed out that relying on excuses to explain your alcoholism is not a good plan for a future that includes sobriety.

          • He’s just starting a treatment program – why not cut the guy some slack. And there is a difference between blaming your addiction on stressors & offering an explanation for how your addiction escalated. It’s too soon to be judging whether he is blaming or explaining.

          • Sorry Keith, after re-reading your earlier comment, I came to the conclusion that I, in fact, am in the wrong. I watched a bunch of Youtube videos about Team Fortress 2 and, hey – I got a little wired up. I ended up drinking a whole gallon of canola oil and passed out on top of the fridge in my underwear; only to wake up a few days later smelling of onion rings.

            At any rate – can you get me some more canola oil – SNNNKKK, man, I need more of that stuff.

          • Oh, nice one – you come onto here and pretend that you are me when you really are not me – that’s so mature, why don’t you go visit a few GOATSE sites while you are maturing?

          • Please, please, please – gentlemen – let us not argue on who here is the real Healthcare Insider; let us tackle this in an honest manner, sit down, take a few deep breaths, and discuss which one of us is the real Healthcare Insider and who amonsgt us are the phonies…

          • WHAT THE HECK IS THIS!!! *I* am the real Healthcare Insider so stop with this immature garbage!!

          • RGGGHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! HULK SMASH!!!!

          • Very funny but not me…..

          • No. what you need is a 12 step program and stop blaming Youtube.

          • …………

        • You’re doing it again. Will you ever get a new routine?

          • What, busting Keith for making a misstatement? What’s wrong with that?

          • The problem was more with your reading than with my statement. Not the first time you’ve done that.

          • What was wrong or inaccurate about my reading? You said “name one time”. I named you a time. What’s the problem?

          • OK; that was MY misread; thought I was responding to Healthcare Insider.

      • LOL yeah, he’d have to find a way to blame it on the other 2 parties.

        • No, no… It would be the fault of an overzealous staffer who spiked his drink and who has already offered his resignation… which was accepted..

          • Heh….you’re right. I forgot those oh-so-disposable staffers!

    • Hmmm….. I am not sure any 12 step program advocates making excuses for your addiction and the hurt it has caused others. This whole…I won’t make excuses BUT…the residential program and Jack Layton’s death….it is a form of abdicating responsibility…something that addicts can’t do if they want to stay sober.

      • Obviously, hence his need for treatment.

        • Yes and his need for help from others.

          • I hope you don’t work with addicts, they have enough problems without your attitude.

          • What are you talking about? The only attitude I have about addiction is that is IS an illness and that the best treatment is to attend a 12 step program with other people who share the addiction so that they can help you stay clean and sober. I am not sure WHAT you took from my comment but what I meant is that his best chance for lasting sobriety will likely be to attend AA.

          • That. what you did right there.

          • Say what? You will have to explain what “That. what you did right there.” means exactly. If pointing out that statistically 12 step programs like AA give people a HUGE advantage in maintaining their sobriety….makes me somehow a bad psych nurse (I work in the department of mental health and addictions), then pardon me. I thought you were all for research-based findings and this is information is based on research. Are you saying it shouldn’t be past along to someone who is trying to get sober?

          • It’s the preaching – nobody is questioning the effectiveness of the 12 step program. Nobody is even talking about it except you. Take the rest of the night off, nurse.

          • Haha! I’m preaching and you and Emily do what??? Enlighten???? Maybe you two should “take a night off from telling me how anyone with a mental health problem would suffer for having me as their nurse because of my so-called “attitude”, which from all the evidence appears to be that I feel it is important that people have all the correct information so thta they have the best chance of a good recovery. You want me to shut up because I am a nurse who specializes in mental health and addictions and we are discussing an addiction to alcohol…..hmmm. Yes, I can see where you and Emily should be given free reign to spout your “expert opinions” instead.

          • Again…preaching.

            And it’s ‘rein’

      • Thank you Florence Nightingale.

        • Emily, I have never noticed that you were one who was empathetic to those with addiction issues. I will bow to your greater experience with the issue ….if you have some.

          • You haven’t noticed 99.999999% of the world, so I’m not concerned with your nonsense.

          • Oh contraire Emily. I noticed alot, especially about you and your opinions that are often in conflict depending on which day you espouse them. Further…if you think you are putting me down by calling me “Florence Nightengale”….the founder of modern-day nursing and a hero in the Crimean War, you are sadly mistaken. As a nurse, I could only hope to reach the standards of Ms. Nightengale.

          • LOL no I never contradict myself. It’s just that you have a mind like a sieve, lose track and confuse me with others….or confuse what I say.

            I called you FN because you were doing your best to sound pious. A man has publically admitted he has a drinking problem….and is getting help.

            Instead of encouragement and applause….you preached at him

            FN didn’t preach…she worked…..and her standards were high in the Crimean War….they aren’t anymore. So I certainly HOPE you go beyond them.

          • When it comes to addictions Emily, it is often getting sober or losing everything. If you and Jan find me “preachy” regarding what research says is the best way to attain sobriety, well too bad. Maybe you two should volunteer sometime on a suicide help line and see how many people phone in with stories about how their lives that have been ruined by addictions and how they are planning suicide. Let’s see how long it takes you two to start preaching. My goodness, you work in economic development and everytime a global trade story comes up, you start preaching like Billy Graham.
            As for Florence Nightengale…it is her standards of nursing professionalism that myself and all modern-day nurses aspire to reach….I thought that would obvious even to you. Afterall, she is still an icon that they teach about in nursing programs worldwide. She is the Hippocretes of nursing.

          • He admitted he had a problem….he had asked for help

            The only words out of your mouth at that point should have been…Congratulations and good luck!

            The rest of your remarks were bullshit.

          • Well you and Jan (the Macleans’ Online ‘mean girls’) really told me! Way to go! Continue to spread YOUR advice and expertise whenever you can. Meanwhile we will all wait with eager anticipation for your next titilating comment.

          • Ooh ‘mean girls!’

            How old are you anyway?…..Get a grip on yourself.

          • “I never contradict myself”
            Sheer comedy gold. That’s right up there with Nixon’s “I’m not a crook” and Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman.”
            Keep ‘em coming, Emily.

          • Noop….never have Bean ol boy

            Bean and HI ‘mind-like-a-sieve’…..’no reading comprehension’ notwithstanding.

  2. “I want to apologize to the other passengers and staff for what happened and for any inconvenience I caused them”

    Ugh sounds like a TTC non-apology. You DID cause inconvenience. Apologise for it, and spell ‘apologise’ correctly- you’re a Canadian dammit!

    • I’m not sure that’s true. Usually non-apologies are along the lines of “I’m sorry you got mad”

    • I spell most things with a Z not an S….you’re spelling like a Brit.

      • And you’re spelling like an American.

        • So?

    • Hmm…surprised to see that from you SDD, you are usually more level headed. He didn’t preface it with “IF I caused any inconvenience”, he directly apologized for “any inconvenience I caused”. IMHO there was nothing wrong with his apology. And as to the spelling of apologise, either is correct.

      Bad day?

      • Possibly….my son was caught red-handed yesterday swiping one of mum’s energy bars and basically sounded like a politician trying to avoid responsibility. It was unnerving!

  3. I’m willing to forgive anyone once.

    • I forgive 3 times….after that….toast.

  4. I respect anyone with this problem who admits it, and seeks treatment. So many do not. Good luck, Mr. Saganash.

    • And that gets voted down by Cons. What a bunch – nasty and juvenile.

  5. Once a drunk, always a drunk. And getting paid for it.

  6. Y’know, it was all pretty decent except for that one paragraph “I am not looking at excuses,” which then goes on to do exactly that. Had he gotten rid of everything in that paragraph from the “but” onward, it would have been much better.

    • My point exactly. If you want to attain sobriety….you need to accept that you are powerless over the addiction…their is no excuse.

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