Regardless of one’s political views, many in Canada would agree that Jack Layton was a charismatic, hard-working and caring man, always working with the people to bring about better change. At the age of 61, and after years of battling cancer, Mr. Layton succumbed to his illness this morning. He was the leader of the NDP party, and for the first time in history had gained the most number of seats that the party’s ever had in the last election.
The “orange party” has been known to connect with the younger crowd, and with the help of his partner Olivia Chow, MP, they have really succeeded in inspiring and motivating young voters to get out there and have their voices heard. Before moving earlier this year, I had the privilege of living in Olivia’s riding of Trinity-Spadina and on more than one occasion had the opportunity to meet her as she attended some of our neighbourhood gatherings and social events. Her and Jack made a great team.
Possibly due to the larger following of the younger generation, the outpouring of grief and sadness felt everywhere today was palpable. I actually found out about his passing via Twitter, before the news websites had even anything posted. Early afternoon, Jack Layton’s final letter to Canada was released and it left a grieving country in tears to read his final words to the nation and its people that he loved so much. How classy and eloquently written, his words becoming a mantra for all – already inspiring some creative pieces of art, one of which is pictured in this entry. (That, and others can be found at cargocollective.com for free download)
I actually had the chance to meet him once, about 4 years ago. Some university friends and I were meeting at a local downtown bar after work, as a going away get together for one of our friends moving back home. Shortly after, we found ourselves surrounded by a growing sea of orange and realized that an NDP party was starting to form all around us! We had the chance to meet and speak with both Jack Layton and Olivia Chow, shared some laughs, took some photos and ate some chicken wings. 🙂 To this day, I still think of how cool and down to earth they both were, and are – and it was a very random, fun night that my friends & I have not forgotten.
With the loss of the Official Opposition Leader, Canada is missing out on what would have been an exciting time in its political history. I just wish that Jack Layton’s hope, optimism and love carries through to each Canadian to realize the dream of making the world a better place, regardless of your political background.