Key federal minister in Canada/China dispute fighting cancer

Canadian International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr speaks at the first China-Canada economic and financial strategy dialogue in Beijing on Nov. 12, 2018.  Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee/Pool

Just days after two senior cabinet ministers from the Prairies were defeated in Monday’s federal election, the Liberal government is now facing the possibility of a third stepping away from cabinet.

International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr from Manitoba announced on Friday that he has been diagnosed with a type of blood cancer known as multiple myeloma.

Following Canada’s fallout with China that saw China ban canola imports from Canada, Carr became one of the lead federal cabinet ministers in trying to rectify the situation. His efforts also included seeking new and expanded markets for canola.

As well, Carr was instrumental in implementing the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Plus, when Carr was natural resources minister, he oversaw the federal government’s acquisition of the C$4.5 billion Trans Mountain Pipeline.

In a statement to the media, Carr said he had been experiencing flu-like symptoms over the last few weeks. After getting blood work, his doctor advised him on Election Day to go to the hospital. Then on Tuesday, Carr underwent further tests that led to the diagnosis.

“This has also affected my kidney function. I have begun chemotherapy and dialysis treatment, which will continue for the near future,” Carr said in a statement.

“I am feeling well, my spirits are high. I spoke to the prime minister and reiterated my commitment to continue serving my constituents and all Canadians,” he added.

The news comes after Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, the Liberals’ lone Saskatchewan MP, as well as Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi from Alberta lost their re-election bids on Monday.

That left Carr as the sole remaining senior cabinet minister from the Prairies, although four Liberal ministers were re-elected in British Columbia.

After serving as a Manitoba Liberal MLA from 1988 to 1992, Carr returned to politics in October 2015 and won the Winnipeg South Centre constituency. The next month, he was appointed Minister of Natural Resources and in July 2018 he was shuffled to International Trade Diversification.

Among those wishing Carr well was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Jim, 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 wrote in a tweet.

Earlier this week, the PM said he would swear in his new cabinet on Nov. 20. There has been no indication so far as to whether Carr would remain in cabinet or not. For western representation to choose from the Liberals have four MPs in Manitoba and 11 in B.C.


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