MP taking leave to treat alcoholism after removal from flight
In this file photo, NDP MP Romeo Saganash is shown taking part in the first round of debates in Ottawa on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011. Saganash has announced he will take time off to seek treatment for alcohol addiction. (The Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand)
Published Monday, October 22, 2012 6:07PM EDT
NDP MP Romeo Saganash issued a lengthy apology Monday and announced he would be taking time off to seek treatment for alcohol addiction after being booted from a flight over the weekend.
“Neither fatigue nor stress can justify what I did. I need help to overcome a medical problem, a dependence on alcohol, like far too many other Canadians,” the MP said in a statement released by his office.
Saganash, 50, was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight Friday when he was deemed too intoxicated to stay on the plane, delaying the flight from Montreal to Val d'Or by half an hour.
“I want to apologize to the other passengers and staff for what happened and for any inconvenience I caused them,” Saganash said. “I would also like to offer my sincere apologies to Air Canada and the Aéroports de Montréal.”
The MP, who represents the riding of Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou in Northern Quebec, was elected in 2011 as part of the “orange crush” that swept Quebec, ushering a wave of first-time NDP MPs into parliament.
He ran briefly for the leadership of the party last year after Jack Layton’s death, but backed out and eventually supported Thomas Mulcair. He also served as deputy grand chief of the Grand Council of the Crees in the early nineties.
While he said he alone is to blame for his actions, Saganash said a number of factors had led him to alcoholism, including Layton’s death, the stress of the leadership race and ‘profound scars’ from his time in a residential school.
“I have asked my leader to give me leave so that I can take the necessary time to treat this illness,” Saganash said. “I am deeply grateful for his support and the support of all my colleagues in this difficult period of my life.”
He did not say how long he expected to be on sick leave.