06.01.2016 07:33 AM

A minister resigns, plus Ottawa after dark

I wish him and his family luck.  Ottawa doesn’t make this kind of problem easy.

On the Hill, the hours are crazy.  So are the demands on you and your family.  There’s a lot of pressure, there’s a lot of isolation, and there’s a lot of scrutiny – so people dealt with all that in different ways.  Back in my day, there weren’t as many bars and whatnot around.  But there was certainly a lot of people who would go for a drink after work.  They’d do that every single day.  That’s how they’d deal with how it is in Ottawa.

I was (and am) weird: I’d come from a punk Straight Edge scene, so I just never did that sort of thing.  And – I confess – I didn’t often hang out with, or ever hire, those who did.  Loose lips sink governments, etc.  If you were a regular on a bar stool at D’Arcy McGee’s, I kept away.

Anyway, for those of you who are in Ottawa, peering at this on your government-issue device, wondering if what happened to this formerly powerful cabinet minister could happen to you, this is a useful rule of thumb.  Fifteen or more a week? That’s a problem.

If you’re doing that, day in and day out, you need to do what Hunter Tootoo did.  Get help.


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    dean sherratt says:

    I do not understand why he left the Liberal caucus. I can easily understand how the pressures of being a cabinet minister would inhibit his ability to seek successful treatment. My only plausible hypothesis would be that he may be addicted to illegal substances and perhaps may be charged with possession and use. That could also explain the somewhat terse statement by the PM. In any event and under all circumstances, I should hope for the best for the man.

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      Warren says:

      It’ll come out. That’s another thing about Ottawa: everything comes out, eventually.

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    dean sherratt says:

    Addenda: The Globe and Mail has a more detailed article that identifies alcohol as the problem. That being the apparent case, I do not understand why leaving the caucus was also necessary in the MPs view.

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    Geoff V says:

    Something else happened. Why was he asked to leave caucus? When Seamus sought treatment he was allowed to stay in caucus, yet Tootoo was asked to leave?

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    Larry Aberle says:

    I do not know the minister. I wish him well. Politics can be a blood sport but we need to recognize that real people are involved along with their families

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    Kevin says:

    WK: Hear, hear. And further to your last paragraph, local Community Health Centres often have a variety of programs for little or no cost, and often are able to customize what they have depending on need. There are also rehab facilities of varying quality around the country, including for example at the Royal Ottawa. Probably the best known and regarded one in Canada (afaik) is in Guelph ON, called Homewood Health Centre. People consider them expensive. I don’t, especially considering the alternative….

    For someone who has a problem like that (with ANY substance), breaking free is the greatest gift you can give yourself, your family and your friends. You’ll live longer, look better, think clearer, treat others with the respect they deserve, you’ll smell better, food will taste better, and sex will feel better. As a bonus, you get to keep your house!

    Important issue, WK. Thanks for addressing it here.

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    Francis says:

    I don’t understand why the media is making such a big issue about Tootoo leaving caucus as well. Is that where the minds of people go; to assume when a man resigns his ministership and leaves his caucus due to his battle with a disease like addiction, that there must be a sinister factor behind his decision?

    Do we really want to go digging on this story? Its clear that whatever pushed Hunter Tootoo to this point was serious enough for him to make a drastic change to his own life without wanted any attention. It feels like the media is shamelessly reading between lines to find a narrative that doesn’t exist just to sensationalize the story.

    The man is suffering, evidently to a point where he could no longer be in an environment that nurtures such an illness, and is willing enough to seek rehabilitation. We should be applauding his decision, not looking for a smoking gun and a dead hooker.

    I’m pretty disgusted with the Ottawa media right now.

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      Cory says:

      Because historically, people tend to only leave caucus for very serious, possibly criminal, behavior.

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    Steve T says:

    I agree that he (and/or the party) made the right decision, and I too wish him the best in his recovery.

    However, what concerns me a bit (in our culture of “redemption worship”) is that somehow he will be seen in a more favorable light than the numerous MPs who avoided alcohol/drugs altogether, or made less of a show of beating their addiction.

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      Francis says:

      Thats an odd perspective.

      For one, I don’t think Tootoo is “making a show of beating his addiction”.

      Second, I think you’re diminishing the effects addiction can have on ones reputation. Yes, on the positive side everyone enjoys a success story of one beating an illness but even within your comments there’s a tint of judgement towards one falling pray to addiction to begin with (re: comparison with those who have avoided alcoholism and addiction all together). That’s the sort of stigma that recovering addicts face while moving forward, i.e. seeing someone as weak enough to fall prey to addiction.

      What you refer to as “redemption worship” is a part of human nature; we empathize with those who overcome struggles that we see ourselves having difficulty battling. Each situation and our resulting reaction obviously varies from to another, but to say this particular matter is case of romanticization that undermines the so-called quiet heroes of life is an oversimplification.

      Most importantly, I highly doubt Hunter Tootoo is seeking the limelight. You might not know this but Hunter is related to Jordan Tootoo who plays in the NHL, he too suffered from alcoholism and for the longest time couldn’t confront the problem. His story is quite amazing and my admiration for Jordan grew when I learned how much the cycle of pain and addiction affected his life and how conjured up the strength to face it.

      On the flip side, I’ve lost several relatives to alcoholism and I can tell you confidently that the alternative to empathy in redemption is shame, sorrow and loss.

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    Kaplan says:

    Had no idea you were straight edge. Given your barroom brawler persona, I also figured you for a pint quaffin’, whisky-guzzling type.


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      Warren says:


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        Amrazment says:

        Warren is neither straight-edge nor abstemious. He is one of the Volcano demons foretold by L Ron Hubbard. I hope he has had a good time possessing Tom Cruise’s lymph system.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    I wish him inner peace, self-love and the love of others.

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    Maps Onburt says:

    I wouldn’t wish it on anyone… hope he recovers fully.

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    Peter says:

    I wish him the very best and have no need to know any more about the circumstances. But Nunavut is a riding that benefits in many ways from an active, competent M.P. By resigning from both the Cabinet and caucus, but not from the House, he has left the Inuit of Canada politically much weaker until the next election, especially if he will be semi-absent during his treatment. Let’s hope the understanding is that he will be reinstated fairly soon.

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    e.a.f. says:

    I wish Hunter Tootoo the best.

    Its no one’s business. People just ought to respect his privacy.

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