Nova Scotia·Video

Gordie Gosse, Cape Breton MLA, to resign

Gordie Gosse, MLA for Sydney-Whitney Pier and former speaker of the Nova Scotia legislature says he'll announce his resignation this morning.

Gosse's cancer was discovered after he had his tonsils removed at a Cape Breton hospital

MLA Gordie Gosse gave a tearful goodbye in Province House today. 9:16

Gordie Gosse, MLA for Sydney-Whitney Pier and former speaker of the Nova Scotia legislature says he'll announce his resignation this morning.

That makes him one of two NDP MLAs leaving the caucus. Frank Corbett, MLA for Cape Breton Centre, is also stepping down, citing family obligations.

In an interview with CBC News, Gosse says it's primarily because of his health.

"I've had some complications from the radiation. I had surgery probably three weeks ago at the hospital here in Halifax. I had a couple of pieces of my jaw removed and also three of my teeth removed and as you can tell — you can't see me, but my face is really swelled up," he said.

"I've actually been thinking about this since December." 

Last April, Gosse announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

The cancer was discovered after Gosse had his tonsils removed at a Cape Breton hospital.

Since that time, Gosse has undergone and continues to undergo numerous surgeries for an aggressive form of throat cancer. Gosse told CBC News he is also suffering from ongoing infections as a result of his illness.

"Because of my ongoing medical condition, I have to get better. And the only way I can get better is I can't be on the road all the time," Gosse told CBC News.

'It's time for you to look after yourself'

"It's a very difficult decision. As you know, I love my job, I love the people of Sydney, Whitney Pier … it's been an honour and a privilege to serve this people in the Nova Scotia legislature. I remember in 2003 — it seems like just yesterday but 12 years goes by fast. It wasn't a decision I took lightly and actually I've been encouraged by my wife to do so."

He said a few people already know about his decision. 

"My family knows and I've told … my staff in the caucus office. My close friends, they all know — and their reaction is 'Gordie, you looked after a lot of people in your time as MLA, now it's time for you to look after yourself,"

Gosse said, over the course of his illness, he's lost more than 70 pounds.

"People don't recognize me when they see me out in public," he said.

Gordie Gosse is the kind of people that should be in this place. The challenge for all of us ... we need to find the next Gordie Gosse.- Premier Stephen McNeil

"There was a guy, I was best man at his wedding. I went to his mother's wake and we were in the lineup at the wake and I shook his hand and said, 'Sorry for your loss.'  He said, 'I'm sorry I don't know who you are.' I said 'You should know who I am, I'm the guy who stood for you when you got married.' He broke down crying."   

It's not yet clear what will happen to his seat but Gosse says his constituency office will remain open to those in the community for a few months. 

Gosse says his resignation will be effective as of 11:59 p.m. tonight. 

The New Democrat MLA was first elected to the legislature in 2003.

Premier Stephen McNeil reflected fondly on Gosse's time in province house. 

"It felt like I had always known him. It became pretty obvious why he got elected to the house of assembly. It was his warm nature, his firm belief in who he was, understanding where he came from, where he was going and very proud of both his past and very determined about his future," said McNeil.

"I'm happy for Gordie today but it's a sad day for us in this house. Often times this place is very partisan, we know that — and it will be when Question Period starts, I'm sure — but Gordie Gosse is the kind of people that should be in this place. The challenge for all of us ... we need to find the next Gordie Gosse."

Opposition Leader Jamie Baillie says Gosse gained respect from members of different parties for being the voice of reason as speaker.

"We will miss his sense of humour, stories and genuine humility in the legislature," he wrote in a release. "His passionate and courageous battle with cancer and his fight to have the HPV vaccine extended to boys has touched all MLAs."

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