I was saddened to hear of the death of Jack Layton, leader of the official opposition for Canada’s federal government. The news struck me more than hearing Princess Di’s death – one of those that you will remember where you were when you heard it. It seems that my sentiment is shared by many Canadians, even those with very opposite views to Jack’s left-wing ideals.
Jack fought for what he believed in – described as going ‘toe to toe’ and ‘dishing it out’ but not attacking anyone personally and not taking things personally. He was passionate, determined, and so alive. He cherished his wife and his family but really cared about others – the homeless; victims of violence; ‘ordinary Canadians.’
I am really impressed that our right-wing prime minister has offered a State Funeral for Jack – something that is quite rare, and usually just for current and former prime ministers, current and former governor generals, and current members of cabinet. This seems to reflect the respect and admiration that I have been hearing from almost everyone, including those of opposing parties and political views.
In my reading about his life, I really liked the quote from Tommy Douglas that Jack used to sign off with: ‘Courage, my friends; ’tis not too late to build a better world.’ But ultimately I have chose then last line of the letter Jack wrote to Canadians just before he died – a letter of hope and encouragement.
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.