Paul Dewar thanks Ottawa for support after cancer diagnosis

Paul Dewar thanks Ottawa for support after cancer diagnosis

Former Ottawa-Centre MP Paul Dewar made one of his first public-speaking appearances since announcing he had cancer at a music festival in Old Ottawa South Friday.

Dewar had brain surgery on Feb. 14 and announced his diagnosis publicly on social media three days later.

"I felt all the strength of Ottawa and people supporting me and my family and just been very, very grateful for all that support and continue to be," Dewar said outside of Southminster United Church.

"Feeling great, sporting a new beard, which fits in for tonight."

Dewar gave some opening remarks for the second night of the Ottawa Grassroots Festival, which puts a spotlight on local musicians and spoken-word performers.

He said he continues to receive treatment and is "hopeful we can take this journey further" and expressed gratitude for the work of people at Ottawa's cancer care centre.

History in community

Dewar served as an NDP MP between 2006 and 2015.

Prior to being elected to Parliament he served as an elected member of the Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Teachers' Federation. He is the son of former Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar.

Dewar sits on the boards of Human Rights Watch Canada and Partners in Health Canada. He is also chair of Ottawa Refugee Action.

He has been rumoured as a potential candidate for mayor this fall, though he was somewhat coy about what's drawing his focus for the future.

"Tonight, music," he said, with a laugh.

Dewar spoke to a crowd of about 300 people in the church sanctuary about the importance of supporting local music and the influence of headlining act Sneezy Waters on Canadian music.