Flaherty battling skin ailment
OTTAWA—Finance minister Jim Flaherty has gone public in a deeply personal interview with The Globe and Mail to explain some recent dramatic changes to his looks.
Flaherty lately has found himself fielding questions from colleagues and others about his health and the noticeable change to his appearance.
To quell concerns, Flaherty gave an interview to The Globe and Mail, explaining he has a rare skin disease (called bullous pemphigoid) that requires strong steroid treatment.
Flaherty, 63, said while he is reluctant to speak about his health, he wants to assure Canadians that neither the condition nor the medication affects his ability to do his job as federal treasurer.
Asked why it took so long for Flaherty to make his condition know, Treasury Board president Tony Clement defended his fellow minister, saying he has a right to keep his health condition to himself.
“As long as we feel we’re doing our job, then there is a part of our lives that should be private and personal,” reasoned Clement, who added circumstances would be different had Flaherty been unable to carry out his duties.
“If you are debilitated, that kind of would be noticed and there would be a legitimate question,” he remarked.
“But that is not the case here.”
Pemphigoid is a rare blistering skin disorder that can produce lesions on parts of the body.
The MP for Whitby-Oshawa spoke to The Globe in his Parliament Hill office yesterday and the report said he appeared uncomfortable divulging details on such a private matter.
“Most people are quite cautious about what they say,” Flaherty noted. “But a few people have said to me, ‘Do you have cancer? . . . What’s going on? Are you going to die?’
“That kind of thing.
“And, obviously, I am not,” Flahery added. “I mean, I will die eventually, but not over a dermatological issue.”
Flaherty said he informed Prime Minister Stephen Harper of his condition and treatment last year before Christmas.
The minister’s cabinet colleagues were quick today to wish Flaherty a full recovery.
“I was very pleased to learn that his condition does not in any way impact his ability to do his job or to fulfill his commitment to Canadians,” said Heritage minister James Moore.
Opposition MPs also expressed their support.
“Wishing Jim Flaherty a speedy recovery,” interim Liberal leader Bob Rae wrote on Twitter.
“Glad it’s not more serious,” NDP House leader Nathan Cullen also wrote.