OTTAWA — Former cabinet minister and Liberal MP Hunter Tootoo has completed his treatment for alcohol addiction, his office said in a statement Monday.
Tootoo, who left the Liberal caucus two months ago, has scheduled a news conference and open house Wednesday at his constituency office in Iqaluit.
“After completing my treatment for alcohol addiction, I wish to invite my constituents to an open house where I will be available to address their concerns as I resume my duties as their member of Parliament,” the statement said.
Tootoo has remained out of the public eye since he abruptly resigned as fisheries minister at the end of May to seek treatment for a drinking problem.
At the time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tootoo left the Liberal cabinet and caucus of his own accord amid a “very difficult situation,” but he would not elaborate on details of what happened.
On Monday, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on Tootoo’s anticipated return to work.
Alcohol has long impacted the lives of members of Tootoo’s family, who are well known in Nunavut.
Terence Tootoo, a rising hockey star, was 22 when he died by suicide in Brandon, Man., 14 years ago in the wake of a drunk driving incident. His brother, 33-year-old NHL forward Jordin Tootoo, also wrote about his battle with alcohol, including a visit to rehab, in his 2014 book, “All The Way: My Life On Ice.”
Government House leader Dominic LeBlanc, who assumed Tootoo’s responsibilities on the fisheries file, has since juggled both roles, prompting speculation about the need for cabinet changes due to the size of the portfolios.
In June, LeBlanc seemed to make a public pitch to stay on at fisheries during a speech at a World Oceans Day summit.
“I was humbled but also excited by the opportunity it presents me and _ you’ll forgive me for saying this at the beginning of my mandate _ to follow in the footsteps of my father who held not an identical job but a similar job over 30 years ago,” he said.
Romeo LeBlanc was a minister in the former Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau, and in 1979 was named the first federal minister of “fisheries and oceans.”