The topic of this week’s entry will come as no surprise to anyone. I wish to briefly share some thoughts on the passing of Leader of the Opposition Jack Layton. I think when we saw Mr. Layton (NDP - Toronto-Danforth) announce he was stepping down we all feared this may happen, but it did not make the news of Monday morning any easier to accept. I felt great shock when I first saw the news coming over Twitter. I did something then I don’t normally do. I stayed away from the television and continued to work at my computer.
Listening to the feed from journalists and politicians, the emotional response was clear. Frankly, I wasn’t ready for that at the time. I did eventually partake in the coverage, but that was only after I read Jack’s Good-Bye Letter. I found the letter deeply stirring and it connected me to the tragedy like nothing else. In fact the second I read the “Friends” at the top of the page I was reminded of the apparent absence of the NDP Leader. I strongly encourage you to read it for yourself if you have not already.
Yesterday we lost one of the giants, one of the great ones. Unlike the American system our system requires an institutional opposition, Canada is weakened and incomplete now with Mr. Layton’s loss. We are hurt as a democracy when Mr. Layton lost his battle to cancer. One of the early news reports wrote that Jack now has supplanted Robert Stanfield as the greatest Prime Minister we never had, and I’m inclined to agree with that.
I saw Jack Layton in person only once, he came to Brock University in 2006 to give a speech. It was a small, and informal event. I regret now not walking up to him and shaking his hand. On July 26, my posting after Mr. Layton announced his second cancer was called “Our Happy Warrior”, well now we have lost our Happy Warrior.
Canada will continue without Jack Layton’s leadership, but in the short-term our country will be a poorer place without his voice. Jack Layton inspired me in my passion and interest in politics, but not only that, as a teacher I saw his campaign this past Spring inspire children and bring them into the process. That’s why it is even more important now than ever before to dedicate ourselves to Canadian democracy, that would be the greatest legacy of all.