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Judy Foote quits cabinet for family reasons

Last Updated Aug 24, 2017 at 12:09 pm EST

Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Feb.23, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Judy Foote has announced her resignation from the federal cabinet and says she’ll step down as a Liberal MP shortly after Parliament resumes next month.

The Newfoundland and Labrador MP has been on an indefinite leave of absence from the Public Works and Government Services Department since April, due to family health issues.

Foote, who has fought two battles with breast cancer, said she is cancer-free, but testing has shown that she’s passed a cancer-causing gene on to her children.

While she loves being a minister and an MP, Foote said she loves her family more and needs to stay close to them.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not expected to immediately name a replacement for Foote, whose portfolio has been overseen on an interim basis by Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.

The portfolio is one of the most onerous in cabinet, with a huge array of responsibilities, including resolving the fiasco over the Phoenix pay system, which has resulted in public servants being overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all. Insiders say the job will go to an experienced minister, necessitating a small shuffle of the current cabinet lineup.

As well, Trudeau is expected to award rookie Liberal MP Seamus O’Regan with a junior cabinet post in order to ensure Newfoundland and Labrador retains its representation around the cabinet table.

O’Regan is a personal friend of Trudeau’s. He and his partner were among the friends who accompanied Trudeau on a controversial family vacation last Christmas to the private Bahamian island owned by the Aga Khan, a billionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslims.

The previous Christmas, O’Regan spent the holidays in a “wellness centre” where he received treatment for alcoholism. The former host of CTV’s Canada AM has openly discussed his struggles with alcoholism and mental illness.

Insiders say Trudeau may also appoint a new female MP to cabinet in order to retain gender parity among his ministers.