While concerned for their ailing leader, the federal New Democratic Party is ready to continue providing a strong Official Opposition in Ottawa, according to the latest from Skeena-Bulkley MP Nathan Cullen. Jack Layton announced last week he will be taking time off from politics to fight a second type of cancer, just having recently won a battle against prostate cancer.
But after a caucus meeting last week to discuss the party’s plan to carry on without Layton for the time being, a release called the group “buoyed by their collective strength.”
“Our determination as a group has never been more resolute,” said Cullen.
He said anyone looking for an opportunity in the announcement will be disappointed.
“If anyone in the Conservative ranks thinks that they’re going to get an easier ride because Jack is off getting better, they’ll quickly realize that is not the case,” said Cullen.
The interim leader for the party will be rookie Quebec MP Nycole Turmel, who was already the Caucus Chair for the party, and was then supported unanimously in the meeting to take on the role.
Cullen dismissed any question her appointment was intended to solidify and maintain the gains the party made in Quebec, and defended Turmel’s abilities.
“She’s got the street cred in terms of her commitment,” said Cullen, also calling her a “fierce negotiator’ who is “pretty courageous” to take the job.
While Layton will remain leader of the party, Cullen said they are encouraging him to take as much time as he needs and to focus on his health, telling him to “put the Blackberry down.”
“None of us put the politics or the party over Jack’s health,” said Cullen.
As the paper went to press, there was as yet no word on what type of cancer Layton has, only that tests for the state of his prostate cancer showed no trace of the previous illness, but indicated a new cancer was instead present in his system.