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Battling leukemia, Hardy resigns as Yukon NDP leader

Todd Hardy is resigning as leader of the Yukon's New Democrats, saying the leukemia he was diagnosed with three years ago is getting worse.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Todd Hardy said he will stay on as Yukon NDP leader until a successor is chosen, likely at a convention this fall. ((CBC))
Todd Hardy is resigning as leader of the Yukon's New Democrats, saying the leukemia he was diagnosed with three years ago is getting worse.

Hardy told reporters in Whitehorse that he made the decision to step down more than a month ago, but waited until Thursday afternoon to announce it.

"My leukemia has returned, and truthfully, it probably never does go away," he said.

Hardy, 51, was first diagnosed in 2006 with acute lymphoid leukemia, a cancer of the blood.

He underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at the time, and kept his seat in the territorial election held that fall.

'My leukemia… has beaten me'

Hardy said his health has now worsened, putting his personal future into question.

"They've put me on another drug, and that drug is basically holding the cancer at bay," he said.

"They haven't indicated what the future holds in that regard. They haven't said, 'Todd, you've got 12 months,' or 'You've got two years,' or 'You've got two days.' They've just said, 'Let's use this drug for now.' "

The drug Hardy is using is effective for an average of about two years, he said. His doctors have not discussed where his treatment would go from there, he added.

"As a younger person, I used to say I may have lost, but I've never been beaten, ever. And I don't say that anymore," he said.

"Maybe I was a little bit too arrogant in that kind of statement… and my leukemia, in many ways, has beaten me."

Hardy said he will stay on as NDP leader until a successor is selected, likely at a convention this fall. Party officials will review the leadership selection rules this spring.

Led NDP since 2002

Hardy said he has not yet decided whether to stay on as the MLA for Whitehorse Centre after a replacement leader is found.

Hardy has led the Yukon NDP in the legislative assembly since 2002. He was MLA for Whitehorse Centre from 1996 to 2000 and from 2002 onward.

During his time as NDP leader, Hardy has seen his caucus shrink from five MLAs to just two.

McIntyre-Takhini MLA John Edzerza announced just last week that he will sit as an Independent, saying his political ambitions don't match up with those of the NDP, his former party.

Still, Hardy said he believes his party has managed to make a difference in the Yukon. He introduced anti-smoking legislation that was signed into law last year.

"My only regret is that we never formed government, and I was never — myself and my colleagues — were never given the opportunity… to take what we able to do in opposition and expand it from a government position," he said.

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