Justin Trudeau says Hunter Tootoo resigned after 'very difficult situation'
Fisheries minister quits cabinet and caucus, saying he will seek treatment for addiction
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had little to say today after the abrupt resignation of Hunter Tootoo, the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the night before.
- Hunter Tootoo joins list of cabinet members making a sudden exit
- 'You got this cuz:' Northerners express support, concern for Tootoo
- Tootoo suddenly resigns from Liberal cabinet to seek treatment for addiction
"As was announced yesterday, Hunter Tootoo has left the Liberal caucus and resigned from cabinet to seek treatment for addiction issues," Trudeau said in his first public words since the resignation of the fisheries minister.
"This was his own choice after a very difficult situation and we'll have nothing further to say on the matter," Trudeau said on Parliament Hill, before making his way into his party's weekly caucus meeting Wednesday morning.
Trudeau did not specify what kind of addiction issues Tootoo is seeking treatment for, nor did he elaborate on the "very difficult situation."
He did not take questions from reporters.
Government House leader Dominic Leblanc, who has taken over as fisheries minister, said he had nothing more to add after the prime minister spoke.
Tootoo released a statement Tuesday night saying, "I have decided to seek treatment for addiction issues and ask for privacy at this time."
'He's gone silent'
Independent Senator Murray Sinclair, a former judge and the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said he would offer a sympathetic ear to Tootoo should the Nunavut MP choose to open up about his struggle with addiction.
In a phone interview with CBC News, Sinclair said he knows Tootoo and his family well but hasn't heard from them since news of his resignation was made public.
"I have not had a chance to speak to him," Sinclair said Wednesday. "But he's gone silent. He's asked to be given his privacy and I respect that."
Sinclair said while he respects Tootoo's need for privacy, he did reach out to the Nunavut MP.
"I have advised his office that if he wishes to talk, I'll be glad to sit down and chat with him."
Tootoo became the second Inuk to be appointed as a senior federal cabinet minister, after former Conservative minister Leona Aglukkaq.
The MP from Nunavut was one of eight Indigenous MPs elected to the Liberal caucus in the federal election on Oct. 19.
Tootoo is cousins with Jordin Tootoo, a Canadian professional hockey player, currently with the New Jersey Devils.
The NHL player recently authored a book detailing not only with his struggles in the league, but his continuing battle with alcohol addiction.
On Wednesday, he expressed support for the Nunavut MP in a post on Twitter.
It takes blood sweat and tears to stand up and ask for help from a real man. <a href="https://twitter.com/HunterTootoo">@HunterTootoo</a> admitting is the 1st step. You got this cuz.—@Jtootoo22
Earlier in the day, several Liberal MPs wished Tootoo well as they made their way into caucus before Trudeau's brief remarks.
Government Whip Andrew Leslie said in French he admired Tootoo's courage and that seeking treatment was the right thing to do.
"I hope for his full recovery and I look forward to seeing him back," said Quebec Liberal MP Greg Fergus.