Cheri DiNovo drops out of federal NDP leadership race after suffering 2 strokes

Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo is dropping out of the federal NDP leadership race but hopes to return to Queen's Park in the fall.

'I am so sorry that it cannot be me but this was never about me anyway'

Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo declared herself an "unofficial' candidate for the leadership of the federal New Democrats on June 7, shunning the party's rules for entering the top contest. ((Martin Trainor/CBC))

Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo is dropping out of the federal NDP leadership race after suffering "two small strokes." 

In a statement released by her campaign office on Tuesday, the Toronto New Democrat said that she suffered the health setback in the last few weeks and has decided to withdraw after talking with hospital staff and family. 

DiNovo says she expected to make a different announcement Tuesday that would see the campaign moving "to a new stage of organization."  

Instead, what she describes as a "terrifying ordeal" has ended her campaign.

DiNovo, an ordained United Church minister and a longtime campaigner for LGBT rights who represents Parkdale-High Park in the Ontario legislature, is confident a candidate with similar values will step forward.

"That candidate, the one who puts principles and values at the forefront, will have me and my supporters' full backing. I am so sorry that it cannot be me but this was never about me anyway," she wrote.

She remains determined that her campaign message will find a voice, adding, "those who represent the grass-roots of the NDP and those progressives who want the NDP to represent them from across the country will not be silenced."

'Unofficial candidate'

DiNovo declared herself an "unofficial candidate" for the leadership at the beginning of June. Her goal was to run a grassroots campaign, rejecting the party's registration fee of $30,000.

"I just feel, in principle, that's wrong — that for the leadership of a democratic, socialist party, it shouldn't be about the money," she said at the time.

The rules for candidates include a $30,000 registration fee and a spending limit of $1.5 million. The party will take a 25 per cent "administration fee" to be levied on all donations to the candidates.

DiNovo thanked her campaign staff and family for their support until now, adding that they "have been amazing through this experience."

She says she plans on focusing on her health and returning to Queen's Park in the fall.

The New Democrats will choose a new leader in 2017 to replace Tom Mulcair, who lost a leadership review in April following the party's third-place finish in last October's federal election.