When I woke up this morning and looked out the window it seemed like the type of day to walk to work and enjoy a little sun before squeezing behind my desk on a production day.
It was on that walk to work I met up with a person who informed me that NDP Leader Jack Layton had passed away.
Mr. Layton had been fighting cancer and had recently stepped away from his role as leader due to his illness.
During the last federal election I had the chance to speak with Mr. Layton on two separate occasions I have to say I understood afterwards why people spoke highly of the man even if they did not agree with his ideas.
Even through a phone call he had an unnatural ability to make you want to listen to what he had to say. I at times admit to being a cynic when politics is involved but he could talk you in to a conversation.
The relationship between politicians and journalists is one that can be difficult at times.
Mr. Layton seemed friendly and very much down to earth. But more than that he was respectful.
Perhaps being one of the regular people made his appeal grow and in the last election saw his party become the opposition in Ottawa.
It is sad that so soon after moving into his new house the cancer that had struck him once before again reared its ugly head and this time won the war.
In a letter to Canadians, Layton talked about his struggles against cancer and also his hopes both for the NDP and Canada.
He said, “And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.”
As time goes on history will debate what exactly Layton accomplished and it should be an interesting discussion. History is never an exact judge because the history we learn is written by people who may or may not have their own slant on what is important and what is not. It is always tough to understand someone’s importance and even more challenging once they are gone.
When no one gave him a chance to be more than a side bar in elections he ended up leading the party to a major upset.
But now that his part is in opposition the question will be who can step up and take over a party which has lost its most well known face and more importantly voice. In the end it is a sad day because once again cancer has shortened another person’s life. It just so happens in this case it was someone many Canadians knew.