Nunavik’s MP Saganash wants time off to deal with alcohol dependency
“I need help to overcome a medical problem”
(updated Oct. 23, 5:00 p.m.)
Romeo Saganash, the MP for Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou, said in a statement issued late in the afternoon of Oct. 22 that he wants to take time off to deal with what he described as an alcohol-dependence problem.
“I have asked my leader to give me leave so that I can take the necessary time to treat this illness,” Saganash said.
Saganash, who was elected to the House of Commons for the New Democratic Party in the May 4, 2011 federal election, issued the statement following his removal Oct. 19 from an Air Canada Jazz flight between Montreal and Val d’Or.
Radio-Canada reported that aircraft crew members asked Saganash to leave the aircraft, delaying its departure by about half an hour.
CBC’s French-language radio news service reported that the security staff at Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport accompanied the MP off the plane.
Saganash flew to Val d’Or on another flight that departed later that evening.
“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,” Saganash said.
Saganash said that his time at residential school left him with “profound scars,” but that he is “not looking at excuses.”
He also said neither fatigue nor stress can justify his behavior.
“I need help to overcome a medical problem, a dependence on alcohol, like far too many other Canadians,” Saganash said.
To that end, Saganash said he has asked NDP leader Thomas Mulcair for time off to deal with his drinking problem.
He thanked his constituents, who include the mostly Inuit residents of Nunavik, and asked 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,” Saganash said.
During Saganash’s leave, services will continue as usual in his constituency offices.
Workers in the Val-d’Or and Chibougamau offices will continue to process files in the riding, his office said in an Oct. 23 news release.
MPs Christine Moore (Abitibi-Témiscamingue) and Charlie Angus (Timmins-Baie James) will be available to meet with organizations and raise local issues in the House of Commons.
The Val-d’Or office is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (888 3rd Avenue, Suite 204 or 819-824-2942), with the Chibougamau office, open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (333 3rd Street, Suite 10 or 418-748-7870).
“Staff will assist citizens with immigration, employment insurance and passport applications or anything else related to the federal government, as usual,” the release said.