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Embattled health administrator Arthur Porter announces he has cancer

Arthur T. Porter.


Arthur Porter, the former Montreal hospital administrator who has been accused of widespread financial mismanagement by a special provincial audit team, has announced through a press release that he has cancer.

Dr. Porter, who headed the six English-speaking hospitals that make up the McGill University Health Centre from 2004 to 2011, has not commented publicly since he was heavily criticized in December by a Quebec review committee for, among other problems, allowing the hospital network's deficit to balloon to a possible $115-million.

On Wednesday, he broke his silence in a brief press release from the private cancer clinic he runs in the Bahamas, explaining that he had been admitted to hospital that day for surgery. The press release did not say what kind of cancer he is believed to have, only that it was a "newly discovered malignancy." Dr. Porter will receive radiotherapy and chemotherapy at the Nassau private clinic he operates, The Cancer Centre, the release stated.

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Domica Davis, the clinic's media relations officer, sent the release to The Tribune, a Nassau newspaper, on Wednesday afternoon with a note asking the paper's editors to "please keep him in your prayers."

Since he left Montreal, Dr. Porter has been embattled by a growing list of controversies. He resigned as hospital CEO, and from a high-profile government post as the chair of the civilian committee that oversees CSIS in 2011, after the National Post revealed he had entered into a commercial relationship with a former arms dealer, Ari Ben-Menashe.

Since then, Quebec's anti-corruption task force has criminally charged two former executives of SNC-Lavalin with defrauding the hospital network as part of their efforts to land a $1.3-billion contract to build the McGill University Health Centre a new facility – a contract that was awarded under Dr. Porter.

Dr. Porter is also being sued by McGill University for $317,000, most of which was provided to him as part of a low-interest loan. Lawyers for the university stated, in court records, that the university had been unsuccessful in reaching Dr. Porter after a brief exchange in which he told a McGill staffer that he was in his native country, Sierra Leone.

Before moving into hospital management, Dr. Porter worked as a radiation oncologist in Edmonton, London, Ont., and Detroit.

He also is involved in a long and varied list of private businesses, including the sale of radiotherapy equipment to developing countries, several mining projects and a solar power startup.

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