Nova Scotia

Alfie MacLeod, Gordie Gosse return to legislature after illnesses

Alfie MacLeod and Gordie Gosse, two Nova Scotia MLAs, returned to the province's House of Assembly on Thursday after battling life-threatening illnesses.

Both men remain committed to representing constituents

Alfie MacLeod, left, and Gordie Gosse returned to Nova Scotia's House of Assembly on Thursday after battling life-threatening illnesses. (CBC)

Alfie MacLeod and Gordie Gosse, two Nova Scotia MLAs, returned to the province's House of Assembly on Thursday after battling life-threatening illnesses.

MacLeod, the Progressive Conservative MLA for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg, has been in hospital since July. He developed an infection in his left foot and subsequently had it amputated.

On Thursday — just two days after being released from the hospital and being admitted to a rehabilitation centre — he returned to the legislature in a wheelchair.

"You'll have to excuse me if I don't stand," MacLeod quipped to reporters.

"I'm doing great. I feel good."

MacLeod was accompanied by his daughters Jessica and Sandra, and his newest granddaughter, Riley, born one month ago. He was upbeat during the conversation with reporters but became emotional when he talked about the support of his family and Eddie Orrell, a fellow Progressive Conservative MLA.

Orrell worked as physiotherapist for 25 years before being elected to the legislature and MacLeod said his expertise has been "a real help" and his friendship is valued.

MacLeod must return to rehab in Cape Breton on Friday but he said he will continue to serve as MLA — no question.

"I've lost a foot but I haven't lost my mind," he said.

MacLeod said during his eight weeks in hospital he met frequently with his office assistant to review emails and phone calls. He used a day pass to go for a drive with his daughter to assess the state of roads in his constituency, and kept a promise to serve as an auctioneer for a community group.

'The people elected me to do a job'

Gosse, the New Democrat MLA for Sydney-Whitney Pier, was also back at the legislature on Thursday after facing a throat cancer diagnosis.

He had 12 hours of surgery, 33 chemotherapy treatments and radiation — surgeons used part of his wrist to rebuild his soft palate.

Gosse has lost considerable weight but said he's on the road to recovery. He must undergo a couple of procedures but said his doctors have told him he has a 90 per cent chance of beating the disease.

"The people elected me to do a job. I'm elected to be here in the legislature. I'm going to be here as long as my health is good," he said.

Gosse said his cancer was caused by HPV, the human papillomavirus. In Nova Scotia, girls are vaccinated against it and Gosse said his mission in life is to ensure the vaccination is also available to young men in the province.

Premier Stephen McNeil praised both men for their commitment to return to the legislature, saying it's a reflection of their character.

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