Judy Foote steps down from federal cabinet
Newfoundland MP says she wants to spend more time with family after health concerns
Public Services Minister Judy Foote has announced her resignation from the federal cabinet.
The Newfoundland and Labrador MP had been on leave from cabinet since the spring for personal reasons and said Thursday she needs to be home and closer to her family.
"It would not be in the best interest of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to be on leave indefinitely," Foote said at a news conference in St. John's, NL announcing her departure.
"This is a difficult decision ... I love what I do."
Foote said she will step down as a member of Parliament when the House returns in late September.
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Foote started telling political supporters and close associates of her decision on Wednesday.
Foote said Thursday she made the move to spend more time with family after learning she has the BRCA gene, which is hereditary and can lead to several types of cancer, and that it also has impacted her children.
"When it hits your children, it's a totally different ballgame," she said. Foote said she has had two bouts with cancer, but as far as she knows, she is now cancer-free.
"We have been dealing with a circumstance that regrettably we wish we didn't have to. But having said that, all is well, and my children are well."
The outgoing MP said she is not taking on any other role, adding she has not even thought about being the province's next lieutenant-governor as some have speculated.
Her departure means that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have to shuffle his cabinet. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has been handling Foote's cabinet duties on an interim basis. According to tradition, Trudeau is expected to name a Newfoundlander to cabinet to retain regional balance.
"It would be a pleasure to see them at the table representing Newfoundland and Labrador," Foote said of her six Liberal colleagues from the Atlantic province.
Foote has been the minister responsible for overseeing the implementation of the federal government's new Phoenix payroll system.
Since federal workers had their files moved to Phoenix in 2016, tens of thousands of public servants, retirees and employees on leave have reported problems with their pay, with some being overpaid, some paid too little and some not at all.
Testifying before a House of Commons committee last September, she said that she received repeated assurances that the Phoenix system was ready to go when it fully launched in the spring, before rolling the new system out.
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Biggest win in the country
Foote was first elected to the House of Commons in 2008 and was re-elected in 2011 and 2015 for the region of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity.
She was the first Newfoundland and Labrador cabinet minister at the federal table since former Conservative MP Peter Penashue, who was minister of Intergovernmental Affairs from 2011 until he resigned his seat in 2013.
She won the last election with nearly 82 per cent of the vote, the highest percentage of any candidate in the country.
Foote, who served as director of communications in the office of former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Clyde Wells for seven years, later represented the southern Newfoundland district of Grand Bank in the provincial legislature between 1996 and 2007.
She served in the provincial cabinets of former Liberal premiers Brian Tobin and Roger Grimes.
with files from David Cochrane