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Trudeau Cabinet Minister Abruptly Resigns, Leaves Caucus Completely

Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo resigned last night, citing addiction issues, but also left the Liberal caucus.

by Josh Visser
Jun 1 2016, 2:13pm


Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo arrives at a morning session at a cabinet retreat at the Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews, New Brunswick in January 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lost his first cabinet minister this week as Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo resigned his position—and left the Liberal caucus—citing addiction issues.

"Effective immediately, the Honorable Hunter Tootoo has resigned from his position as Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. He will also be leaving the Liberal caucus," read a terse statement from the PMO issued Tuesday night.

"Mr. Tootoo will be taking time to seek treatment for addiction issues."

Tootoo is not the first LIberal MP under Trudeau to take time off to deal with addiction, but he is the first to quit caucus while doing so.

Liberal MP Seamus O'Regan took time off in December to seek treatment for alcoholism but didn't leave caucus. He returned to work after a 40-day program.

Tootoo, MP for Nunavut, claims he didn't want to be a distraction for his colleagues.

"As of today I have resigned as minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and will be stepping down as a member of the Liberal caucus in order to not distract from the important work of my colleagues," Tootoo's statement read.

"I have decided to seek treatment for addiction issues and ask for privacy at this time."

Tootoo is also not the first Liberal to leave caucus under Trudeau. The Liberal leader turfed two MPs, Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, amid sexual harassment complaints in early 2015.

While Trudeau offered heartfelt "full support" for O'Regan for his addiction issues, the prime minister only had a brief statement for Tootoo.

Dominic Leblanc will be taking over Tootoo's cabinet responsibilities.

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