At 4:45 am on Monday August 22nd, 2011, New Democrat Party Leader and amazing politician Jack Layton, passed away from his battle with cancer. He was 61 years old.
Mr. Layton was a well-respected man who was admired by many for his dedication to his party, his ideals and the improvement of Canadian society. Always seen with a smile on his face and a positive spirit, he was a leader for many and an example to all. His easy going, energetic nature was well known as was his commitment to making Canada the very best it could be.
Before he was a member of federal politics, he was a city councilor in Toronto where he became well known for his social advocacy and forward thinking ideas. He tackled topics like homelessness, food banks, smoking, cycling, and AIDS in a time when many subjects were still taboo. Alongside his wife, NDP member Olivia Chow, he worked hard to make sure community and social justice issues were always addressed. He carried this same passion with him as he rose in politics to become the leader of the official opposition party, the highest the NDP has ever been.
Weeks ago it was announced that Mr. Layton’s cancer had returned, afters years of being cancer free. An interim leader for the party was announced and a statement was released saying Layton would not be returning when caucus resumed in the fall. But to be honest, I thought he would beat the cancer. The idea that he would not make it through never crossed my mind once so his death came as quite a shock.
I’ve been watching the news and the public response is very touching. Many reporters have met him over the years and a similar theme has come across as they tell their stories: his honesty and friendliness. People have been gathering at Parliament Hill placing flowers and notes of gratitude and sadness on the centennial flame. People all over the country, no matter their political background, are in mourning for the loss of a great man.
Before he passed, he wrote a letter to the public. It can be found here. This is an exert of the last few paragraphs:
And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
All my very best,
My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, children, family and friends and may Jack Layton rest in peace. ♥