Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart has announced he will be stepping down from his cabinet position to focus on his battle with cancer.
“This looks like it’s going to be a more protracted fight than the last one,” Stewart told reporters at a SaskParty retreat in Cochin.
Stewart announced Thursday he has has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer; his second time battling the disease.
In 2014, Stewart was diagnosed and beat prostate cancer; he travelled to Ottawa to receive treatment but continued to serve as minister of agriculture.
Stewart will undergo what he describes as “pretty aggressive treatment” over the next several months to a year.
“I have no doubt between my own stubbornness and a great team of health-care professionals that we’ll win this battle,” Stewart said. “Saskatchewan agriculture deserves a full-time minister that’s really up to the job.”
Stewart is only the second person to serve as the minister of agriculture since the Saskatchewan Party took office in 2007.
Although he is stepping down from that post after six years, Stewart will continue serving as the MLA for Lumsden-Morse; a position he’s held since 1999.
“My thoughts are with my friend as he embarks on this second journey now with a disease that he’ll kick here before too long,” Premier Scott Moe said. “He’ll continue to be a confidant and a guiding voice for the premier of this province as well as we move forward.”
Support for Stewart following his announcement came from all over, including across the aisle.
“As Minister Lyle Stewart begins his fight against cancer, I thank him for his diligent work as Minister of Agriculture and extend my best wishes to him and his family during this difficult time,” NDP Leader Ryan Meili posted on Twitter.
Many provincial organizations also shared their support on social media on Thursday.
“Wishing Lyle Stewart strength and good luck through this battle. Thank you for your close working relationship, excellent leadership and commitment to Agriculture over the past 6 years,” the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association wrote.
“He’s always been a straight shooter, and if he can’t give the ag portfolio his full attention, he’s got to turn to his health right now,” Agricultural Producers of Saskatchewan president Todd Lewis said. “I look forward to supporting him through his treatments, be a strong member of the caucus and advocate for agriculture.”
As for Stewart, the husband, father of three and grandfather of six, said he is proud of the work he’s done as the agriculture minister, and said he wanted to step down on that note.
“This looks like a bit more of a tougher fight, but we’ll be fine,” Stewart said.
A replacement for Stewart hasn’t been chosen yet as Premier Moe is expected to tap a new minister of agriculture sometime next week.
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