Left, right or indifferent, the loss of Jack Layton was a blow to Canadian politics.
Layton, who led Canada’s official opposition, died Monday morning in his Toronto home after a battle with cancer.
He was 61 years old.
Condolences, tributes and memories have flooded every medium, while Monday evening saw huge crowds near the Centennial Flame at Parliament Hill. Many left flowers, cards, notes and cans of Orange Crush, the party’s official colour.
And as the sun set on the massive, concrete building, the crowd sang O Canada.
Politicians from all political stripes have issued emotional statements, highlighting Layton’s integrity, strength and perseverance.
“Canada has lost a great politician. A man who believed in working for the public good. And I’ve lost a personal friend,” longtime NDP leader and MP Ed Broadbent said.
“It’s a loss for the country because he was a political guy who believed strongly in politics and who had a lot of resilience and a lot of guts,” interim Liberal leader Bob Rae told CBC News.
It’s heartbreaking to note this collaboration, this sharing of grief is what is finally pounding this great leader’s message across.
But surely, if there’s a silver lining, it’s the shedding of party lines, if only momentarily, to come together in celebration of a man who had all Canadians best interests at heart.
If you haven’t done so, read Layton’s last words to the country and its citizens to which he dedicated decades of his life. He signs off:
“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.”
Thank you, Jack Layton, may you rest in peace.
–Autumn MacDonald, Observer