Love>Anger. Hope>Fear. Optimism>Despair.

These words have become quite popular in the past 48 hours. They came directly from a letter Jack Layton wrote to Canadians  two days before he succumbed to his battle with cancer.

 


Even after he stepped down as the official opposition leader a few months ago citing his battle with a new form of cancer and the need to focus on his health, his death comes as a shock to most. Through the toughest battle of his life he continued to fight for Canada until his very last days.

 

Regardless of their political views, Canadians have come together to honour the late politician. In a world where politicians are regarded as dishonest and insincere opportunists, Jack is being praised and revered for his hard work. Shortly after the news of his passing broke, Twitter was filled with messages of shock, sadness and mourning regarding Layton’s passing. The news of his passing crossed political and geographic boundaries. Plans were made for a memorial at Toronto’s City Hall and hundreds visited City Hall in order to post messages on the walls of City Hall or sign books of condolences. There was a successful movement to have the CN Tower lit up in orange (the colour of the NDP party) and Niagara Falls has also confirmed the Horseshoe Falls will be lit orange in honour of Jack’s funeral on Saturday. Layton will also be honoured with a rare State funeral, usually only offered to current and former governors general, current and former prime ministers, and sitting members of cabinet. As a strange show of support, Twitter users can also don Layton’s infamous “trustache” in their display pictures.

 

I’m not writing this to enlighten you. I’d like to think that every single one of my readers knows by now of Layton’s passing. I’d even like to think that some of you know how huge his contribution to Canadian politics has been. I’m writing this down because I want to remember this day and I want to remember the reaction. I want to remember politicians like Jack Layton, and I want to remember his death as the day Canadian’s threw their politics aside and respected a man that deserved our respect.

 

One of my favourite things about Jack
Layton was his willingness to participate
in Toronto’s events and culture. I’ve
heard so many stories about friends of
mine meeting Jack at various events and
being blown away by how approachable
and kind he was. Unlike Toronto’s current Mayor, Jack & Olivia always participated in Toronto’s Pride Parade. Jack could be seen dancing down the street, laughing and talking with the crowd on the parade route.

 

As a former resident of the Trinity-Spadina riding which Chow has represented for the past few years, I respected Chow’s politics and always wondered if her and Layton would be the next political power-couple in Canada. It seems that with the surprisingly Orange results of the past Federal election, they were certainly on their way there.

Now as we watch Olivia live through some of the most tortuous days of her life, her strength is unimaginable. As a woman who has had to share her husband with the public since their marriage in 1988, Olivia’s grace in sharing her husbands last moments with an entire country is admirable, but second to her kindness, humility, and mostly her appreciation for the support of Canadians.

RIP Jack! We will always remember your love for our country and wonder what could have been…You have truly been an inspiration.

 

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