We forever hear that there aren’t enough good people in politics, and today Canada mourns the loss of one of its greatest Good People.
A consummate battler for social good and civic justice for well over 30 years, Jack Layton struck a chord coast to coast as he stunned the nation with a massive come-from-behind effort that split Canada’s left and delivered the Official Opposition to the NDP for the first time ever.
Layton was the kind of man more should aspire to be. He was a leader who truly cared about the little guy. People would tell stories about how he’d approach out of the blue on the street, or how he was as earnest one-on-one in private as he was in front of thousands. They talk about how he’d get chatty with his servers in restaurants, to find out what their biggest concerns were, or how he still identified with families, the youth, and the elderly.
There wasn’t anyone, it seemed, that Jack Layton wasn’t passionate about helping.
No matter who you were or what your politics were, it was hard not to see Jack Layton as a real guy who was doing something because he was genuinely moved to live in a better world than the one we have now.
When a good chunk Canada turned around and voted for the NDP this spring, they were voting for Jack Layton, because he said we could do it. Because he said there was hope and that we had to care more about each other, not just our tax return.
It’s yet another victory for cancer.
But Jack Layton’s life was a victory for decency. His legacy will be a victory for civic service.
It’s been a long, long time since a politician moved me like this on a personal level. I’m hoping that, today, kids are seeing the outpouring of passion for this politician and are thinking “I’d like to be loved like that,” and maybe, just maybe a future of change is being created in that young mind today.
Because, like Jack says:
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.
With that, we say farewell, Jack. You were the right man at the right time. It’s a national tragedy your time was cut short. We will remember, and love, you.