I was never the biggest supporter of NDP Leader Jack Layton. I found his politics leaned too strictly to the left, but with a cold, calculating tendency to prop up the Conservative Party for no other reason than to get ahead of the Liberals. But whatever I thought of his shrewd politicking, there is no doubt his ambition was as grand as any Canadian politician since Pierre Trudeau. Layton saw something beautiful and compassionate in the Canadian electorate. When people scoffed at the idea of a powerful federal NDP, Layton stood strong, stood firm, and brought a boundless energy to the sadly apathetic state of our federal system.
Layton is gone now, but his energy will hopefully live on for a while longer.
It was in the last election that Jack Layton was finally vindicated for his vision. As he got up on the national stage, cane in hand as a sign of defiance, he displayed remarkable tenacity. Through sheer force of personality, Jack Layton managed to make the NDP the official opposition for the first time ever in the House of Commons. I did not vote NDP, but I couldn’t help feeling great pride in the way Jack Layton managed to speak to Canadians and to a dejected electorate in Quebec.
His passion was endless and the fortitude Layton brought to Canadian politics will be remembered for some time. He was a true fighter. He fought cancer in the last years of his life, and just as everything seemed to turn a corner and everything seemed to be going Jack Layton’s way he lost that fight.
The suddenness of the announcement on July 25th that he had a new form of cancer was shocking. That shock is only outdone by the suddenness of his passing mere weeks later. Canada needed a strong party and opposition leader like Jack Layton, and he leaves behind a huge void that will be immensely difficult to fill.
The loss of Jack Layton is a deep loss for Canada. My thoughts are with his wife, Olivia, his children, and all of his family and friends. I mourn with them, and I’m sure all of Canada mourns with them as well.