Saskatchewan politician Lyle Stewart is stepping down as the province’s agriculture minister.
Stewart announced Aug. 9 that he will be stepping away from his ministerial duties to focus on battling cancer.
“I was recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer and will be undergoing several months of pretty aggressive treatment,” Stewart said in a news release.
“Agriculture is a very important portfolio in this province, and it has been a tremendous honour to serve as Saskatchewan’s agriculture minister under two great premiers over the past six years.
“However, given my current circumstances, I didn’t feel I would be able to give that position the attention it deserved, so I have asked Premier (Scott) Moe to appoint a new minister.”
Moe said he expected to name a new agriculture minister within a week.
Stewart will retain his responsibilities within the portfolio until a replacement is named.
Moe said he is sad to lose Stewart from cabinet, but his first concern is for his friend’s health.
“First and foremost, Lyle Stewart is my friend, so the most important thing is for him to deal with his cancer,” Moe said.
“Everything else is secondary. Lyle has been a great agriculture minister, and I want to thank him for everything he has done for the ag industry in our province.”
Through Twitter, Moe said the entire party is behind Stewart as he steps away from the agriculture portfolio.
“Lyle is tougher than tough,” Moe said.
“He’s beaten cancer before, and he’ll beat it again.”
Stewart hails from Pense, Sask., where he owns a farm and ranch.
He was first elected to the provincial legislature in 1999 and has served as the province’s agriculture minister and the minister responsible for Saskatchewan Crop Insurance since early 2012.
Stewart also took a brief leave from his ministerial duties in late 2014 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
He returned to his duties a few weeks later after receiving treatment in Ottawa.