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New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton speaks at a news conference in Toronto, July 25, 2011. Layton announced he is temporarily stepping down to battle cancer.

Mark Blinch/Reuters

Good afternoon.

On February the 5th, 2010, I shared with Canadians that I, like 25,000 other Canadian men every year had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I have received overwhelming support from my loving family, my friends, my caucus, the party and thousands of everyday Canadians. Their stories and support, I have to say, have touched me deeply and I've drawn strength and inspiration from them.

In the closing days of the most recent session of the House of Commons, I started suffering from some stiffness and some pain. And after the House rose, I undertook a series of tests at Princess Margaret Hospital here in Toronto. My battle against prostate cancer, as it turns out from these tests, is going very well. My PSA levels remain very, very low. However, these tests, whose results I received just last week, also indicate that I have a new cancer - non-prostate cancer - that's going to require further treatment.

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So, on the advice of my doctors, I'm going to focus on treatment and recovery. I will therefore be taking a temporary leave of absence as leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada. And I'm going to fight this cancer now so that I can be back to fight for families when Parliament resumes. So, to that end, I've requested that the president of our party, Brian Topp, consult our parliamentary caucus and then convene a meeting of our party's federal council to appoint an interim leader. The interim leader will serve until I am able to resume my duties. I intend to that when Parliament resumes on September 19th.

I'm also making a recommendation on who the interim leaders should be. I suggest that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel be named interim leader during this period. Ms. Turmel enjoys unanimous support as the national chair of our parliamentary caucus. She's an experienced national leader in both official languages and she will do an excellent job as our national interim leader.

Let me conclude by saying this: If I've tried to bring anything to federal politics, it's the idea that hope and optimism should be at their heart. We can look after each other better than we do today. We can have a fiscally responsible government. We can have a strong economy with greater equality in our society, greater equality that's so important in days when we see inequality growing. A clean environment. We can accomplish these things. We can be a force for peace in the world.

As I am hopeful and optimistic about all of this, I have to say I am as optimistic as when I started out my life in politics. And so I'm hopeful and optimistic about the personal battle that lies before me in the weeks to come. I am very hopeful and optimistic that our party will continue to move forward, that we will replace the Conservative government in a few short years from now and that we will work with Canadians to build the country of our hopes, of our dreams, of our optimism, our determination, our values and our love. Thank you very much.



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