November 18, 2019

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Winnipeg MP, federal cabinet minister Carr reveals cancer diagnosis

OTTAWA — Questions surrounding Justin Trudeau’s cabinet are now even larger as Winnipeg South Centre MP Jim Carr begins cancer treatments.

Carr, the last-standing Prairie voice in the federal cabinet after this week’s election, began receiving chemotherapy this week after flu-like symptoms led to a diagnosis of multiple myeloma.

The 68-year-old said the blood cancer has affected his kidney function, and that he is getting dialysis treatment, as well.

On Monday, between election-day events, Carr's doctor asked him to go to the hospital. After polls closed, Carr took in the results and spoke to constituents at the Caboto Centre, thanking them for giving him 45 per cent of votes in Winnipeg South Centre.

Liberal candidate Jim Carr speaks to the media about his win in Winnipeg South Centre at the Caboto Centre in Winnipeg on Monday. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Liberal candidate Jim Carr speaks to the media about his win in Winnipeg South Centre at the Caboto Centre in Winnipeg on Monday. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

He had a brief stop home before checking into the Health Sciences Centre. Doctors delivered the diagnosis Tuesday.

Carr’s family notified close friends late Thursday and put out a statement on Twitter Friday morning, after being told he’d soon be out of hospital.

"I am feeling well, my spirits are high," Carr wrote in a statement, adding that he is committed to his role as MP and will keep his constituency office open.

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's minister for International Trade Diversification, Carr is responsible for the implementation of trade deals with places such as the European Union and Pacific Rim, while pushing for new export markets for Canadian products such as canola.

“I am feeling well, my spirits are high.” - Jim Carr, Winnipeg South Centre MP

It’s unclear whether Carr will keep the role, one of the few jobs in a minority cabinet that involves substantial travel abroad.

Before being elected to Parliament in 2015, Carr was a Manitoba Liberal MLA from 1988 to 1992. He then worked for the Free Press as a columnist and member of the editorial board, from January 1992 to July 1997, before leading the Business Council of Manitoba until the 2015 federal election. He's also been an oboist with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

Carr first served as energy minister, stirring some of the Liberals’ trickiest files, including the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

LIberal MP Jim Carr (left) accepts election-night congratulations from Gail Asper after being re-elected in Winnipeg South Centre on Oct. 21, while Manitoba LIberal MLA Jon Gerrard looks on. (Danielle Da Silva / The Canadian Press files)

LIberal MP Jim Carr (left) accepts election-night congratulations from Gail Asper after being re-elected in Winnipeg South Centre on Oct. 21, while Manitoba LIberal MLA Jon Gerrard looks on. (Danielle Da Silva / The Canadian Press files)

He was one of four Manitoba Liberals re-elected Monday, all from Winnipeg.

MP Kevin Lamoureux said he was "really quite saddened" by the news, having known Carr since 1988.

"I’m convinced Jim will be back in true form, before people underestimate Jim’s ability to overcome things," he said.

MP Dan Vandal said he got to know Carr well over the Sunday-evening flights from Winnipeg to Ottawa.

Cross-party support for Carr

Statements wishing Jim Carr well came in across the country and the political spectrum Friday on Twitter, including these:

Statements wishing Jim Carr well came in across the country and the political spectrum Friday on Twitter, including these:

“My deepest wishes and prayers for a speedy and full recovery.”

— Manitoba Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen

 

“To my MP and friend Jim Carr: I wish you good health, we are pulling for you and we want you to be well!”

— Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew

“Jim has been a champion for Manitoba and Canada, and a model of someone who is willing to work across party lines for the sake of the community.”

— Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont

“We're all with you in this fight and admire your dedication to serving Canadians.”

— Ontario Premier Doug Ford

“I know you’re a strong & determined person my friend, I have faith you will beat this.”

— City councillor Kevin Klein

“Our entire community is with you and your family in your battle.”

— Loren Remillard, president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

“Wishing the Honourable (Jim Carr) all the best as he and his family deal with this difficult news.”

— Conservative Alberta MP Dane Lloyd

"While I am very sorry to hear this, those of us who have the good fortune to know you believe the cancer doesn't stand a chance against a person of your will, determination and good heart. You will crush it Minister.”

— Goldy Hyder, CEO of the Business Council of Canada

"Wishing for a swift recovery… municipal leaders across Canada are behind you."

— Federation of Canadian Municipalities

“Wishing you all the best for a speedy recovery, Minister. We look forward to working with you again soon.

— Grain Growers of Canada ‏

“We wish him a complete and speedy recovery and we look forward to seeing back in the House.”

— Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

"Everybody is shocked," he said.

"He’s an incredibly hard worker, he’s a fighter and he’s going to come back, and we’re wishing him the best."

MP Terry Duguid had a similar reaction.

"My thoughts are with Jim and his family today. All of our Manitoba MPs are wishing him a speedy recovery," he wrote in an email.

The prime minister is undergoing transition meetings this week and his office said there were no immediate plans for cabinet. Trudeau tweeted his "full support" for Carr.

Carr and Treaty One First Nations Chiefs gather at the Assiniboia Downs for the official announcement and signing over of the former Kapyong Barracks to the Treaty One First Nations. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Carr and Treaty One First Nations Chiefs gather at the Assiniboia Downs for the official announcement and signing over of the former Kapyong Barracks to the Treaty One First Nations. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

"As you take time to focus on your health, I know you’ll get through this — and you’ll continue proudly serving Manitobans (and) Canadians," Trudeau posted on Twitter.

Premier Brian Pallister had a similar message on Twitter: "All Manitobans will be in your corner, Jim, as you take the fight to cancer," he wrote.

Mayor Brian Bomwan said he was "saddened" by the news.

"I have no doubt that he will face this challenge as he has others — with strength (and) determination," Bowman posted to Twitter.

Carr’s diagnosis comes at a time when the Liberals are trying to find a way to shore up representation in cabinet for Alberta and Saskatchewan after being wiped out of any seats in either province.

“I have no doubt that he will face this challenge as he has others — with strength (and) determination.” - Mayor Brian Bowman

Meanwhile, New Brunswick cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc is recovering in a Montreal hospital from a bone-marrow transplant from a different blood cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, with which he was diagnosed this spring.

Earlier this week, former Liberal politician and Canadian statesman Lloyd Axworthy told the Free Press that Trudeau ought to appoint another Winnipeg MP to sit alongside Carr in cabinet to help manage Prairie issues.

Both Lamoureux and Vandal said they didn’t want to discuss cabinet appointments Friday.

Trudeau has pledged to appoint his cabinet on Nov. 20.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, October 25, 2019 at 6:00 PM CDT: changes lede

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