I don’t much care for politics. Party politics is crippling our neighbours to the south (that’s the US, if you didn’t know that I’m Canadian) and keeping one of the wealthiest nations in the world from rebuilding its shattered economy. I think that most political rhetoric is done for the sake of its own existence, and I truly believe that successful politicians tend to be piss-poor decision makers and even worse leaders.
Because of that, I am all the more saddened to hear about Jack Layton. For those few of you that don’t know who Jack Layton is (meaning, those of you who are not Canadian or who have never lived in Canada), Layton was the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, and because of the strength of their showing in the latest federal election, leader of the country’s official opposition.
I will not attempt to summarize his long career, the values of his party, or who he was to Canada; I am not student enough of Canadian history or politics to do it justice. I also will not deify the man or his mission, because I don’t believe that either one was perfect in every way.
I will, however, say that I deeply respected Jack Layton, his conviction, his leadership, and the fact that he pulled his party up from political irrelevance to the second most powerful party in the country. I respect the fact that – more than almost any other politician in this country – he did what he said he would do, and meant what he said. I give him full credit for fighting for things like pensions, the rights of workers, public health care, and social justice. And I will tell you now, my friends, that he was one of a very few men in the world (Tom Selleck and Wilford Brimley being the other ones) that can wear a moustache and not look stupid or creepy.
Finally, I truly respect a man that leaves a letter like this one to the people he left behind. I respect a man that takes some of his very limited, very precious time left on this earth to remind us all to be “loving, hopeful , and optimistic.”
Layton was a scrapper in the best sense of the word, and every memory I have of him involves his constant presence in a fight, be it political, social, or medical. And while it saddens me to know that cancer finally did take him from his family, his party, and the rest of Canada, I hope he feels like he can finally put down his gloves and rest. God knows he’s earned that much.
Thank you for everything you did for us, Jack. We’ll miss you.