February 5, 2010 / 7:37 PM / in 8 years

NDP leader sick, won't quit

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The leader of Canada’s left-leaning opposition New Democrats, who in late 2008 pushed hard to create a coalition to oust the minority Conservative government, said on Friday he has prostate cancer but would stay on in his role.

<p>NDP leader Jack Layton announces that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, while flanked by his wife Olivia Chow in Toronto February 5, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>

“I‘m a fighter and I‘m going to beat this ... I‘m feeling good,” Jack Layton told a Toronto news conference.

In early December 2008, Layton agreed to a deal with the two other opposition parties to topple the minority Conservative government. The agreement fell apart shortly afterward when the Liberals, the biggest opposition party, ditched their leader.

Layton’s relations with the Liberals have been chilly since then, effectively killing off the possibility that the two parties might work together to defeat the Conservatives.

Recent polls show the Liberals tied with the Conservatives with around 32 percent popular support with the New Democrats at 15 percent.

If those figures were replicated in an election now, the Liberals and New Democrats together could well control a majority of seats in the House of Commons. The two parties have worked together in the past but have never formed a formal coalition.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway

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