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Warm welcome back for Maxie
After taking a year off from Parliament to recover from a debilitating stroke, La Horquetta/Talparo MP Maxie Cuffie yesterday returned to the House of Representatives for its 42nd Sitting, where he was warmly welcomed back by Government and Opposition MPs.
But while Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar welcomed Cuffie back into the Lower House, Cuffie admitted to being surprised at this, noting the Opposition had nothing good to say about him when he fell ill last September.
The Opposition had repeatedly called on Cuffie, who they claimed was an absent MP, to resign during his absence.
“I was happy to hear the Opposition Leader welcome me back. But I was a bit surprised because I heard the comments when I was away (seeking medical attention) questioning the cost of my medical expenses and me being away from the country and all of that,” Cuffie told the T&T Guardian during the sitting’s tea break.
Nevertheless, Cuffie said he was gratified to hear Persad-Bissessar’s remarks. Asked if he felt Persad-Bissessar’s comments were genuine, Cuffie said he was still happy.
“I am happy nonetheless because it is the right thing to do…for her to say that. I think she has done the right thing.”
Cuffie was hospitalised last September for treatment, which prevented him from fulfilling his duties as Minister of Public Administration and Communications. He later sought medical attention at a hospital in Washington DC.
In February, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said Government had spent $2.5 million on Cuffie’s medical bills.
When the sitting adjourned for the tea break yesterday, a smiling and upbeat Cuffie, who shook hands with Government MPs, said he felt great to be back in Parliament.
“It felt like coming home,” he said.
Last month, Rowley removed Cuffie as Minister in the Ministry of Public Administration and appointed him as Permanent Secretary in the same ministry.
Now faced with different duties, Cuffie said he has been working closely with Public Administration Minister Marlene Mc Donald.
“I have never found the work strenuous. It has not been an issue that affected my health. I feel good now and I felt good before.”
Physically, Cuffie said he felt strong, although he walked in and outside of the Chamber a bit slower. His speech was also not 100 per cent.
Cuffie added, “Thank God. I have been blessed. I intend to make good use of that blessing. You take it one day at a time and everything comes back and you trust in God. The important thing is just to continue working at it. I am doing that.”
Since returning home in July, Cuffie said he has been visiting his constituency weekly.
In his first address to his constituents at a thanks-giving service last month, Cuffie admitted to crying when he addressed them.
“You need to understand something, when you have a stroke it makes you more emotional because the part of the brain that controls your emotions is hard to control. So you cry more easily and that kind of thing.”
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