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Bevington, Heyck among Layton's NWT well-wishers

Heather Lange
Northern News Services
Published Friday, July 29, 2011

Jack Layton announced on Monday that he will be taking a temporary leave of absence from being the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada after recent tests showed he has another form of cancer.

This is the second bout of cancer Layton has faced in the last year and a half, after being treated for prostate cancer in February 2010 and undergoing hip surgery in March.

Layton wrote in a statement on the NDP website "I'm going to fight this cancer now so I can be back to fight for families when parliament resumes."

Parliament resumes on Sept. 19 and Layton plans on picking up where he left of as leader of the official Opposition after concentrating on treatment and recovery from cancer as recommended by his doctors.

Western Arctic NDP Member of Parliament Dennis Bevington expressed his best wishes for a fast recovery for Layton and placed emphasis on Layton's leadership and ability to connect with the public.

"I really hope he will return in good time and be able to continue with his strong leadership in our party. He has clearly been an inspiring person for Canadians, especially in the last election. They know him as some one who fights for them hard and he will fight this illness hard. In Canada right now, he is probably the most popular politician; people like and trust him," said Bevington.

Hull-Aylmer MP and caucus chair Nycole Turmel has been appointed the interim leader of the NDP. Dennis Bevington doesn't foresee her lack of experience affecting her ability to be

interim leader.

"It is true she is a rookie MP, but she has been around Ottawa a very long time. She was president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada and obviously had many dealings with the federal government at that time and also was in a very strong leadership role. She has had an opportunity to meet all the different caucus members, she is fluently bilingual and I think she will be an excellent interim leader for the party and once parliament opens, Jack has indicated he expects to be back," said Bevington.

Mark Heyck, president of the Western Arctic Riding Association, echoes Layton's words about his fighting attitude.

"We're all just wishing Jack the best and hoping he pulls through. We know what a determined fighter he is and we are confident that if anyone can overcome this latest challenge, it's Jack," said Heyck.

Heyck also believes that Turmel has the capabilities to be a good interim leader for the NDP.

"I think that Nycole is a very good choice. I think she is familiar with Northern issues and in the interim while Jack is away, I think she will do a very good job."

Heyck said focusing on if Layton temporarily stepping down as party leader could hurt the NDP is secondary to Layton's health.

"The important thing is making sure Jack gets back on his feet again. I think Jack has done a fantastic job of bringing the party to the point we are at now and you know his time as leader has spanned almost the entire time I have been with the party He has just brought such an energy and enthusiasm to the job it has really pushed us to the point where we find ourselves now," said Heyck.

The NDP leader is 61 years old.

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