Monday, 22 August 2011

Thank you Mr. Layton

Overcast, cold, rainy temps 15

A cold front and storms swept through last night, and when they left they'd taken our summer, and a remarkable man.

Jack Layton died last night - he was 61, and the head of the official opposition in Canada...the leader of the New Democratic Party. He'd led them to a historic victory in the election this past winter. And then, in July, announced he had cancer and was stepping aside temporarily.

I think most of us who saw that news conference suspected the worst. He no longer looked like the vital, robust, fit man we were used to seeing. His voice was hoarse and he looked frail. And now our fears are confirmed. Oddly I woke up this morning wondering how he was doing, but it wasn't until I stopped by La Rumeur (the bakery in Sutton) that I found out he'd died.

Very sad. Now, he was no saint, not savior, no divine being. But he was a man of conviction, who held to his beliefs and managed to navigate the murky, unpleasant, waters of politics and still keep his integrity....and the respect of his party and followers. And many others who would never, ever vote for a social democrat, but who admired the man.

When he realized he was dying he wrote a two page letter to Canadians. I won't quote it all here, if you're interested I'm sure you can find it. But I will give you his last words:

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,

Jack Layton


Liz said...

I feel very saddened by his passing; he will be missed. Thanks for putting into words what many of us feel.

mermaidmom said...

I am one of your southern neighbors, and through your words and books I am learning so much about Canada. Americans tend to look north to Canada and see a country that is peaceful, beautiful and not full of the crazy politics that we endure. You seem so much more sane. My eyes are opening to the realization that "It's a small world afterall." We are all going through turmoil, politically, emotionally and economically right now. I am very sorry Canada has lost a good man, a man with honor, and a man who had good ideas that could have been an inspiration in the days ahead. Keep writing Louise, and sharing your world with all of us. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Commitment to one's own principles and the admiration of others is about as fine a legacy as any of us has right to hope for.

Tall Pines Pottery said...

Louise, I second the comment made by mermaidmom on how isolated we Americans can be, and also so self-absorbed. Mr Layton's words you quoted shows his intelligence and sensitivity. He would never have been elected in America, since those do not tend to be characteristics of our politicians. The world is an emptier place without him, and more needy than ever. My condolences to all of you up there. Thanks for allowing me to share in this. Peggy

VT Slajer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
VT Slajer said...

Had I not decided to read your blog a moment ago, Louise, I would not know about Mr. Layton's demise (mea culpa). His predecessors are buried in the Mount Royal Cemetary, and, incidentally, I walked by that grave yesterday, thinking about Jack (that's how most people who voted for his party here in QC called him). The letter that you have mentioned was dated Aug. 20, and I found it on the CBC website, full version, even a scanned copy with his signature:
What a brave man!
And thanks, Louise, for all that you share with us, your readers, even the sad but important news. C'est la vie.

lil Gluckstern said...

I'm so sorry. It seems that Canada has lost a very passionate, dedicated man. would that we had someone here in the States with that kind of grace. My condolences.

Brenda Buchanan said...

Hello Louise,

We're in New Brunswick on a brief holiday so heard the news of Jack Layton's death on CBC. I thought of you, knowing of your admiration for him as you'd mentioned him in an earlier post.

My sympathy to his family and his nation, all of whom I'm sure will miss him greatly.