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Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, sits next to Senator Jacques Demers at a Conservative party rally in the Montreal borough of Dollard des Ormeaux, Wednesday, September 1, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes

Senator Jacques Demers, a former NHL coach who almost died this summer after what should have a routine operation, says he will have to face another operation.

The frail-looking Conservative senator made his first public appearance since his ordeal when he joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper Wednesday at an outdoor rally in a Montreal suburb.

Demers has already had two surgeries and he told The Canadian Press that he will have to undergo a third operation.

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"This is something that is on my mind, but that's part of life and I have to be positive," he said as he left the rally after Harper's speech.

"It's my first big outing, I'm leaving a little early, but I thank God that he gave me a second chance."

More than one thousand Tory supporters turned out in the sweltering heat Wednesday evening to hear the prime minister's speech outside a neighbourhood school.

Demers lost 43 pounds this summer and said that he's gained a few of those back.

"It's a question of being positive and continuing to believe that, with time, things will go better," he said.

Demers also said he wasn't sure if he would be ready to do any election campaigning in the near future.

"My state of health doesn't allow me to make any promises and we'll see what happens."

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He described his ordeal in an earlier interview with the RDS sports network, where he worked for years as a hockey analyst.

Demers, who's 66, said he was with Senate colleagues in Ottawa, one night in June, when he began feeling ill.

What he had, in fact, was a hernia and Demers underwent surgery at an Ottawa-area hospital on June 29.

But something went horribly wrong and he had to undergo another operation.

"Accidentally, through human error, the doctor apparently cut a piece of plumbing - of the intestine - and it apparently spread through my body," he told the RDS interviewer.

With toxins flooding his body, Demers was forced to undergo a second operation to save his life.

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Demers says family members were told at the time that he was between life and death.

Demers was named to the Senate's upper chamber last year.

The longtime NHL coach led the Montreal Canadiens to the 1993 Stanley Cup title. It's the last time a Canadian team has hoisted the iconic trophy.

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