Jack Layton

Jack Layton, dead at 61

“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.”
– Jack Layton (click to read the entire “Letter to Canadians”)

Today we lost a proud Canadian; a man truly dedicated to the betterment of all. Jack Layton, the charismatic leader of the New Democratic Party, who lead his party into Official Opposition in last spring’s election, has lost his battle with cancer at age 61.

Too many politicians give off the impression that their ultimate goal is simply to get reelected. The reason so many people gravitated to Jack was that he never seems to care – he was more concerned with the state of Canada, and being a loud voice advocating for those who would otherwise be ignored.

Historically, Canada has gravitated more to a centrist political party, a roll that the Liberals were more than happy to fill. But with the recent election of a (majority) Conservative government, there was an increasing need for a strong, left-wing counter in Opposition to what will be a right-wing leaning Government. Not the radical left, but a strong, assertive, humanistic and socialist left to counter the “colder”, business driven policies that will most likely come from the right.

Jack Layton was the perfect man for this job – able to advocate for his beliefs with shameless abandon while bringing social conscious to bear on perhaps the darker aspects of the Conservative agenda. Layton’s advantage was that he could fill this roll while remaining “Jack” to Canadians.

Jack Layton will be sorely missed by Canadians across the political spectrum – yes, even the Conservatives. A strong opposition ensures that the party in power remain “sharp”, ideally resulting in the best possible result for all Canadians.

My thoughts go out to his wife, children and grandchildren on what surely must be a terrible day. He will be fondly remembered by all Canadians, and as part of the collective memory, Jack has managed to find immortality.


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