There was no one moment that pushed Seamus O’Regan into rehab last winter but six months later, the Newfoundland and Labrador MP says he’s glad he decided to deal with a growing dependency on alcohol.
“It turned out to be a huge relief. I feel just like this huge weight lifted off my shoulders, which is nice,” O’Regan told The West Block’s Tom Clark as the two took to the skies over Ottawa.
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“It’s social norms, and certainly in Newfoundland and in Ottawa here as well, it’s just socially very normal to have drinking every night.”
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Eventually, O’Regan said, he recognized that he wasn’t able to do his job properly. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with whom he has been close friends for over a decade, encouraged him to seek whatever help he needed.
He checked himself into the same treatment facility famously used by former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, and O’Regan said the staff helped him to understand his drinking and equipped him to quit over the long term.
“(Trudeau) wanted me 100 per cent and I wanted to be 100 per cent. So, you know, nothing really catastrophic really happened with me, but I wasn’t 100 per cent.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Clark, O’Regan spoke about his past in provincial politics as a senior advisor to former premier Brian Tobin, becoming host of a national morning show (“I’m a night guy…every morning was a miracle”), his marriage to partner Steve Boss, and his subsequent return to political life as an MP on Parliament Hill.
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The biggest challenge, he said, has been learning to deal with the media.
“The relationship with media, obviously, it’s strange. And it was strange for me in the beginning,” he said, adding that during his time on the recently cancelled Canada AM, he was able to be fully himself on camera.
“There was an authenticity there, and then to learn how to do the political-speak of answering without ever answering is not something that came naturally to me. It’s something that I didn’t like when I had to interview people.”
O’Regan also sang a few bars of some of his favourite tunes, and shared the nickname he earned as a young staffer working under then-provincial minister of justice Ed Roberts.
“I was his executive assistant and it was the early ’90s, and so I was affectionately known, because of my relative youth, as Doogie Howser E.A.”