New Democrat MP Romeo Saganash says he has a dependence on alcohol and is taking time off work after he was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight from Montreal to Val D'or on Friday for being too drunk to fly.

The flight was delayed by half an hour as Saganash was escorted off the plane.

"Neither fatigue nor stress can justify what I did. I need help to overcome a medical problem, a dependence on alcohol, like far too many other Canadians," he said in a statement late Monday afternoon.

"I have asked my leader to give me leave so that I can take the necessary time to treat this illness. I am deeply grateful for his support and the support of all my colleagues in this difficult period of my life."

A statement from the NDP confirmed that Saganash will be taking sick leave.

Hélène Laverdière will take over Saganash's critic responsibility for international development issues. Charlie Angus and Christine Moore will share responsibility for Saganash’s regional files.

'Profound Scars'

Saganash also apologized to the other passengers on the plane and to the flight crew. He said many of his colleagues can attest to the pitfalls of working in the hectic environment of Parliament Hill.

"I am not looking at excuses, but I know that profound scars were left on me because of my time in residential school. I never shied away from that. The death of my friend and mentor, Jack Layton, also greatly affected me," he said in the statement.

Saganash thanked his constituents and said his office will continue to serve them.

"My priority is to serve my constituents to the best of my abilities and it’s with deep humility that I say thank you and see you soon."

Earlier in the day, Saganash cited stress as the reason he was drinking.

"It was Friday, it had been a long week, and we're all stressed out at that time," Saganash told CBC News on Parliament Hill on Monday. "I apologize."

"This is the first time that it has happened in 30 years in the air. I regret what happened and it won't happen again," he said.

Saganash was elected to represent the northern Quebec riding of Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou in 2011. He was a well-known Cree leader and negotiator before entering federal politics.

He ran for the NDP leadership last year but dropped out partway through the campaign. His statement on Monday said the race wore him out and took him away more often from his family than his regular MP duties.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Romeo Saganash blogs for the The Huffington Post Canada.

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  • Abuse: Not Meeting Responsibilities

    <i>Abuse, the regular use of a substance that leads to serious psychological and/or physical disability, is shown by one or more of these symptoms during the same year:</i> Repeated substance use to the point of not being able to meet responsibilities -- not performing well at work, being suspended from school, being repeatedly late or absent from required duties, or neglecting household tasks.

  • Abuse: Involving Risk

    <i>Abuse, the regular use of a substance that leads to serious psychological and/or physical disability, is shown by one or more of these symptoms during the same year:</i> Repeated substance use when there is risk involved, like operating equipment or driving a car while under the influence.

  • Abuse: Difficulties With The Law

    <i>Abuse, the regular use of a substance that leads to serious psychological and/or physical disability, is shown by one or more of these symptoms during the same year:</i> Repeated difficulties with the law related to substance use -- being arrested for physical aggression or drunk driving, for instance.

  • Abuse: Personal Or Social Difficulties

    <i>Abuse, the regular use of a substance that leads to serious psychological and/or physical disability, is shown by one or more of these symptoms during the same year:</i> Insisting on using the substance regardless of continued or repeated personal or social difficulties because of it, verbal or physical aggression with a loved one, or frequent arguments about the substance use.

  • Dependence: Needing Great Amounts

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Needing greater amounts of alcohol to satisfy cravings.

  • Dependence: An Inability To Reduce Use

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Using the substance longer than planned or more frequently and in greater amounts. An inability to reduce use, despite a sincere wish to do so.

  • Dependence: Going Through Withdrawal

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Going through withdrawal when not using alcohol, with symptoms such as tremors, restlessness, and agitation.

  • Dependence: Avoiding Withdrawal

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Taking a substance or a similar one to avoid the effects of withdrawal.

  • Dependence: Spending Time On Alcohol

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Spending a significant amount of time trying to acquire the substance. Spending less time at work or on other activities because of substance use; a person may completely abandon previously enjoyable activities.

  • Dependence: Drinking In The Face Of Difficulty

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Continuing to drink despite being aware that alcohol is causing psychological or physical difficulties.

  • Addiction: Saying Inappropriate Things

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Does he/she frequently say inappropriate things?

  • Addiction: Slurred Speech

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Does his/her speech slurred?

  • Addiction: Missing Work

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Does he/she miss work?

  • Addiction: Off Balance

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Is his/her balance off when they walk?

  • Addiction: Trouble With The Law

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Has he/she gotten in trouble with the law, for example, with drinking and driving?

  • Addiction: Health Problems

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Is he having health issues related to alcohol addiction, such as heartburn, liver problems, high blood pressure, or insomnia?

  • Question To Ask: Should I Cut Down?

    <i>Take the CAGE questionnaire -- if the answer to two or more of the four CAGE questions is yes, it is likely you have a problem.</i> C stands for cut-down: Do you ever feel that you should cut down on your drinking?

  • Question To Ask: People Getting Annoyed?

    <i>Take the CAGE questionnaire -- if the answer to two or more of the four CAGE questions is yes, it is likely you have a problem.</i> A stands for annoyed: Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?

  • Question To Ask: Ever Felt Guilty?

    <i>Take the CAGE questionnaire -- if the answer to two or more of the four CAGE questions is yes, it is likely you have a problem.</i> G stands for guilty: Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?

  • Question To Ask: Drinking To 'Recover'?

    <i>Take the CAGE questionnaire -- if the answer to two or more of the four CAGE questions is yes, it is likely you have a problem.</i> E stands for eye-opener: Have you ever had to drink as soon as you wake up to steady your nerves or get over a hangover?