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NEWS RELEASE · 27th July 2011
MP Nathan Cullen
NDP MPs emerged from today’s caucus meeting in Ottawa buoyed by their collective strength and solidly united as the Official Opposition moves forward without cancer-stricken Leader Jack Layton at the helm, says MP Nathan Cullen.

“We knew going in that today’s meeting would be tough because we’re a close-knit, extended family and we’re grieving the serious health issues of one of our own,” Cullen said after today’s caucus session.

“But, like any family, we circled our wagons and leaned on each other, and we’ve come away even stronger and more united in the face of new challenges. We are totally committed to continuing to work for the priorities of Canadians as Jack takes time away to focus on his treatment and recovery.

“Jack is a dear, dear friend and I, along with the people of Skeena-Bulkley Valley and all Canadians, are holding him close in our hearts as he faces new health concerns.”

Cullen arrived in Ottawa yesterday from Bella Bella after completing a week-long tour of midcoast communities. As required by party constitution, the NDP Caucus and the party’s Federal Council have gathered in Ottawa to appoint an Interim Leader of the Opposition, who is expected to be in place by Friday.

Layton has recommended that respected New Democrat Caucus Chair Nycole Turmel, MP for Hull-Aylmer, serve as Interim Leader until his return.

Cullen said Layton’s recommendation was solidly supported in today’s caucus meeting.

Layton was diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2009 and underwent treatment while continuing to work. He had surgery for a hip fracture last winter and launched into the election campaign a few weeks later. A second cancer diagnosis he revealed Monday is unrelated to his prostate cancer, which has responded well to treatment.

“Jack’s warmth and intelligence, and his honesty and connection with Canadians, have been incredibly important in moving our party forward to become the Official Opposition and all Canadians look forward to Jack’s return to the House of Commons,” Cullen said.