Canada has lost a good man.
Last Monday I received a text message asking if I had heard of Jack Layton’s passing. I had not. I mentioned it to the fellow beside me and he replied “That’s too bad.” I think we were both a bit in shock over the news, after all, Jack Layton had always been a fighter and we just assumed that this latest cancer was just another round and he would bounce back.
We were wrong.
I was not a huge supporter of the NDP or Jack Layton, but I did like the man and the way he did things. His latest effort, attempting to bring civility to the House of Commons was a tremendous breath of fresh air. His way of disagreeing without being disagreeable was also a part of Jack Layton that will be missed by me, I hope his Caucus will be able to follow his lead.
Although I never met Jack Layton, I know of people who did. It seems that he was the ultimate party guest. When he spoke to someone, they became the most important person in the room. When he debated, he argued the points, not against the person. Jack Layton was inclusive, you wanted to be on his side and his main targets like poverty, homelessness and healthcare were a good side to be on.
Something about the passing of Jack Layton bothered me. I think it is the fact that of the leaders of the Federal Parties in recent memory, he was the only one to go beyond talking points and platform planks to showing the direction he thought we should go, he offered us a vision. A vision of a fair and just Canada that we would all build together. A Canada where we would take care of each other. Not a bad place to live.
Many of us were looking forward to the next session of Parliament, to see how this new Opposition Leader would fare against Stephen Harper and his government. We can only wonder now.
Some are wondering what kind of Prime Minister Jack Layton would have made. We will never know.
Before Jack Layton left us, he wrote us all a letter. Parts of this letter were directed to his Party, and to his Caucus, but more importantly, parts were written to the others fighting cancer, to the youth of Canada, and to all Canadians.
Jack Layton left us with good words.
He wrote: “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.”
If you haven’t read the letter, you should.
The letter can be found here:
The outpouring from Canadians at the loss of Jack Layton has been overwhelming. People calling the NDP offices to offer condolences, candle light vigils to the filling of Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto with messages written in chalk on every surface that people could reach.
Six days later and people are still sharing their thoughts on web pages throughout the internet. The love for Jack Layton and what he stands for still resonates all through this land.
I said at the beginning, that we Canadians had lost a good man. We may have lost a great man, but I will leave that to history to decide.
Two final thoughts.
When Jack Layton walks up to the gates of Heaven, he is asked “What did you do with what you were given?” His reply, “I did the best I could but I wish I could have done better.” When St. Peter looks up and recognizes him he says “Please come right in Mr. Layton!” and he replies, “Thank you. And it’s Jack, just Jack.”
After he passes through the gates, the first person to rush up to him is Tommy Douglas who shakes his hand and says “Well done! Jack my boy! Well Done!”
You will be missed Jack. Be at peace.