Politics

Jim Carr, minister of international trade diversification, diagnosed with cancer

Jim Carr, the minister of international trade diversification and a Winnipeg MP, has been diagnosed with a type of blood cancer.

Liberal MP says he plans to 'continue serving my constituents'

Jim Carr, the Winnipeg MP and minister of international trade diversification, is shown June 13. On Friday, he said he has been diagnosed with cancer. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Jim Carr, the minister of international trade diversification and a Winnipeg MP, has been diagnosed with a type of blood cancer but says his "spirits are high" and he plans to continue to serve his constituents.

In a statement issued Friday, the Winnipeg South Centre MP said he had been experiencing flu-like symptoms in recent weeks and went in for blood work.

On Monday, election day, his doctor told him to go to the hospital.

"On Tuesday, I underwent further tests which led to a diagnosis of multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer," he wrote. 

"This has also affected my kidney function. I have begun chemotherapy and dialysis treatment, which will continue for the near future."

Carr said his constituency office will remain open.

"I am feeling well, my spirits are high. I spoke to the prime minister and reiterated my commitment to continue serving my constituents and all Canadians," said Carr in his statement.

High-profile cabinet minister

Carr has served in two high-profile and high-stress cabinet roles in Justin Trudeau's government.

Carr, one of four Liberal MPs elected in the Prairies in Monday's election, was made international trade minister in the summer of 2018 as the NAFTA negotiations raged on, and was given the task of diversifying Canada's trade partnerships beyond the United States.

Carr hugs a supporter after his election win Monday night. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

In that role, he took on the work of implementing Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). More recently, he has led Canada's trade battles with China after Beijing banned Canadian canola and meat shipments — part of the fallout from disintegrating bilateral relations since the RCMP's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Before taking over the trade portfolio, Carr, an oboist-turned-journalist-turned-CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba, served in the Liberal cabinet as natural resources minister and helped oversee the government's $4.5-billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

He has served in the provincial legislature and first ran federally in 2015.

Carr was re-elected on Monday with 45 per cent of the vote.

In his statement, Carr and his family thanked the doctors, nurses and staff at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.

"We appreciate everyone's respect for our privacy at this time," he wrote.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a number of Liberal cabinet ministers tweeted out messages of support for Carr today.

"Jim, as you take time to focus on your health, I know you'll get through this and you'll continue proudly serving Manitobans and Canadians," Trudeau wrote.

"You have our full support, my friend."

Former cabinet minister Ralph Goodale said all Canadians are pulling for Carr's recovery.

"This is horrible news but we certainly wish Jim every success in his recovery. He is an indomitable spirit," Goodale told CBC's The House.

"He is a fighter and he will take on this challenge like he has taken on so many other challenges very successfully in his life. He is a distinguished Canadian and a fine son of Manitoba."

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman also tweeted out his support.

"I have no doubt that he will face this challenge as he has others, with strength and determination," he wrote.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, multiple myeloma starts in plasma cells — a type of white blood cell that makes antibodies that help the body fight infection. The society also notes that an estimated 3,300 Canadians will be diagnosed with that form of cancer in 2019.

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