Jack Layton was the leader of the N.D.P. (New Democratic Party) and for the first time in the party’s history, he was the official leader of the opposition. His death at 61 leaves a huge gap in our governing body. But it is the loss of the human being that is the real blow. Jack fought all his life for the underdog, the voice not heard, the discarded, the despised, and the forgotten. He brought balls and character to a very bland political landscape, which is the current state of Canadian politics.
Jack was a huge supporter of the arts in every form and came out to show that support time and time again. We have read and heard so many people say that even if you did not agree with his politics you had to love Jack. He was a “money where the mouth” is guy at a time when so many are “foot where the mouth is” guys. The following is a letter that he crafted with his wife Olivia Chow and his closest party confidants two days before his death. We have taken the liberty of editing the letter to give you a taste of Jack Layton.
Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.
Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.
A few additional thoughts:
To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.
To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better…. I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.
… 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,
One of our favourite comments among the thousands these last few days appeared in the editorial in the Globe and Mail. It said, “He ennobled politics”. Yes. He did.
The following is an endearingly personal clip from the endearingly funny Rick Mercer Report. Enjoy.