Former health minister Diane Marleau dead at 69

Former health minister Diane Marleau, 69, died after a year-long battle with colorectal cancer,...

Former health minister Diane Marleau, 69, died after a year-long battle with colorectal cancer, said her husband, Paul. (JOHN LAPPA/QMI AGENCY)

Carol Mulligan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:58 PM ET

SUDBURY - Diane Marleau, a former health minister under Jean Chretien, died in her hometown of Sudbury, Ont., on Wednesday at the age of 69.

Marleau, 69, died peacefully with her family at her side Wednesday morning at Maison Vale Hospice.

Daughter Brigitte Marleau said the family took Diane to the emergency department at Ramsey Lake Health Centre Tuesday night, but she was quickly transferred to the residential hospice.

Hospice employees told the family they had never admitted a resident so near death who hadn't been cared for by home services or in hospital. Brigitte said that's because her father, Paul Marleau, cared for her mother until her last day.

Paul Marleau said Diane became ill a year ago when the couple was wintering in Mexico. When they returned home, she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Diane Marleau grew gravely ill a few weeks ago and her wish was to enjoy Christmas with her family and make it to February, when she and Paul were to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, Brigitte said.

She died two weeks short of that date.

Former Greater Sudbury mayor and Nickel Belt New Democrat MP John Rodriguez didn't share Marleau's political views when she was elected Sudbury Liberal MP in 1988, but he did share many a plane ride to and from Sudbury with her.

Rodriguez recalled sitting in the opposition benches with Marleau, sometimes side by side, during the government of PC prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Kind-hearted in her personal life, Marleau had no qualms about going after Mulroney, Rodriguez said.

Nor did Marleau shy away from international figures. Rodriguez recalled a trip to Washington, D.C., with Marleau when they visited Federal Reserve Bank president Alan Greenspan.

Rodriguez recalled Greenspan “castigating” them for their outdated banking system, “but (Diane) challenged him” on that, Rodriguez said.

While he didn't share Marleau's “Liberal leanings,” they shared a love of their home communities and a desire to serve constituents, he said.

Rodriguez will deliver one of four eulogies at a celebration of Marleau's life Saturday at 2 p.m. at St. Andrew's United Church.

Marleau is survived by her daughter, sons Donald and Stephane and their spouses, and a granchild.


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