Nunavik’s first aboriginal member of parliament, Romeo Saganash, said on Tuesday that he was confident in the strength and determination of New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton in his battle with a newfound cancer.
“I was sad, but I also saw strength and determination,” Saganash told the Nunatsiaq News upon hearing the news about Layton, who is also his friend. The MP credits Layton with encouraging him to run in May’s federal election, in which he beat incumbent Bloc Québécois MP Yvon Lévesque.
Layton chose Nycole Turmel to serve as temporary NDP leader during his absence, a move that Saganash, who represents Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou, applauded, according to the newspaper.
Layton was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in February 2010, and he conducted most of the recent federal election using a cane after also undergoing hip surgery for a fracture. In that May 2 election, the NDP unseated the Liberal Party as the country’s official opposition. Layton’s news reached fellow party members as they were either vacationing or traveling through their constituencies, The Star reported.
“I’m going to fight this cancer now, so I can be back to fight for families when Parliament resumes,” Layton said in his statement announcing his illness on July 26. “I am hopeful and optimistic about the personal battle that lies before me in the weeks to come.”