Jack Layton (July 18, 1950 – August 22, 2011) ... an embodiment of hope

Jack Layton's final words from his open letter to Canadians, 22 August 2011
Jack Layton's final words from his open letter to Canadians, 22 August 2011

LATEST NEWS

Book tribute to Jack Layton has been released: "Hope is Better than Fear", an essay collection in electronic format

Jack Layton to be honoured with statue and ferry terminal http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1206835--jack-layton-to-be-honoured-with-statue-and-ferry-terminal

Voice to the powerless. He spoke from the heart. A kind and decent soul. Principles of compassion, fairness and equality. An open, honest and compassionate leader. Relentless in his convictions. Tireless in his efforts to change life for the better. A consensus builder.

These are things said of a savior, rarely a politician.

But that's how Canadians remember the Honorable Jack Layton, Leader of the Official Opposition. Smiling Jack. Jack of Hearts. Champion of positive politics.

Naturally we expect Jack's funeral to be inspirational.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper graciously offered a state funeral to Jack's widow, Olivia Chow.

It is fitting that a man of the people should be celebrated by all. And regardless of color, beliefs and social status many want to take part.

Since his sudden passing on Monday, August 22, 2011 the outpouring of sorrow across the country has not paused. We have never witnessed collective mourning at this scale. Some may say it is exaggerated false sentiment. Though a few experts say it is not surprising.

It may have been triggered by his lengthy and moving letter to Canadians written 2 days before his passing.

When the well wishers who stood in line for hours to get a glimpse of his flag-draped casket were asked what they think of Jack, they said:

"I wanted to come and pay tribute to a wonderful Canadian that I never got a chance to vote for but whom I respected and admired his passion."

"He cared about everyone regardless of political stripe."

"He's the best prime minister we never had."

"I didn't know him personally, but I feel like I lost a friend."

News links have reported vigils held across the country -- Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Halifax and of course Toronto to name only a few.

Maybe he knew how to stir the masses. Maybe his accelerated decline in health struck a chord in all of us. Maybe his sudden end just as he approached the pinnacle of his career gave us a jolt. Maybe it is the loss of someone who we knew stood up for our needs. Maybe his parting marks a milestone for the idealist hippie generation. It could be all the above, or something else. Essentially we know that the world lost a good guy who happened to be a politician.

Though it may sound mythological perhaps Jack's death may serve as a transformational force. Jack's hope was to unify diverse Canada. Maybe we can accomplish that. We already agree it is a goal worth achieving.

It will take some time to get used to a world without Jack. But we must go on.

Rest in peace, Mr. Layton. You gave it your all.



SUMMARY OF JACK

Born July 18, 1950 in Montreal, Quebec, John Gilbert "Jack" Layton grew up in the small town of Hudson, Quebec.

Layton had politics in his blood.

His great-granduncle, William Steeves, was a Father of Confederation.

His grandfather, Gilbert Layton, was a cabinet minister in the Union Nationale government of Maurice Duplessis in Quebec, and resigned due to the provincial government's lack of support for Canadian participation in World War II.

His father, Robert Layton, was a Liberal Party activist in the 1960s and 1970s, and served as a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) and Cabinet minister in the 1980s.

Layton studied political science at McGill University, and in 1969, at age 19, he married his high school sweetheart Sally Halford, with whom he had two children, Sarah and Mike. In 1970, he moved to Toronto and his family to attend York University. Layton and Halford's marriage ultimately ended in 1983 after 14 years. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Political Science from York University with a specialty in economic public policy in 1984.

In 1974, he became a tenured professor at Ryerson Polytechnic University, and has taught at both York and the University of Toronto.

He first entered politics in 1982 when he was elected to Toronto City Council. He ran unsuccessfully twice for a federal seat.

Layton has served as Acting Mayor and Deputy Mayor and chair of several committees, including: Chair of the Toronto Board of Health, Chair of the Economic Development and Planning Committee of Metro, Chair of Metropolitan Toronto's Planning and Transportation Committee, the Advisory Committee on Homeless and Socially Isolated Persons, Member of the Greater Toronto Services Board.

As a six-term Toronto city councilor, he spearheaded innovative public projects such as Canada’s first municipally-sponsored AIDS strategy, which became a nationwide model.; The Healthy Cities model, adopted by the WHO; an urban wind turbine; and The White Ribbon Campaign of men speaking out against violence against women.

As head of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, he helped launch successful initiatives like the Green Infrastructure Fund to help cities clean up their air and water; and innovative ideas on how to address homelessness.

His company, the Green Catalyst Group, Inc., has helped organizations implement workable environmental solutions – work that won a United Nations award.

He has written several books, including Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis and, more recently, a book on general public policy, Speaking Out.

He has been married to Olivia Chow since July 1988. Layton first met Olivia Chow in 1985, during an auction held at a shopping mall (Village by the Grange) in Toronto's Chinatown, in which Jack was the auctioneer and Olivia was the translator for the Cantonese language observers.

On February 5, 2010, Layton announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He noted that his father Robert Layton had suffered from the same type of cancer 17 years before and recovered from it. His wife, Olivia Chow, had also battled thyroid cancer a few years before. He vowed to beat the cancer and said it would not interrupt his duties as member of Parliament or as leader of the NDP.

In 2011, Layton brought the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Canada to unprecedented heights. Canadians elected a record-breaking 103 New Democrat MPs, representing every part of the country. Layton became leader of the largest Official Opposition in 31 years—and the first formed by New Democrats. With 59 Quebec MPs, Layton’s team emerged not only as a credible government-in-waiting, but as a force for Canadian unity.

Following the 2011 federal election, a frail-looking, gaunt and hoarse-sounding Layton announced on July 25, 2011, that he would be taking a temporary leave from his post to fight an unspecified, newly diagnosed cancer. He was hoping to return as leader of the NDP upon the resumption of the House of Commons on September 19, 2011.

Jack Layton passed away at 4:45 am ET on August 22, 2011, at his home in Toronto.

PHOTOS: SAYING GOODBYE

The Canadian flag on the Peace Tower was lowered to half-mast in Layton's honour.
The Canadian flag on the Peace Tower was lowered to half-mast in Layton's honour.
Mourners left floral tributes and notes, including this one featuring the words of former NDP leader Tommy Douglas, at the Centennial Flame in Ottawa.
Mourners left floral tributes and notes, including this one featuring the words of former NDP leader Tommy Douglas, at the Centennial Flame in Ottawa.
Hundreds of people gather for a candlelight vigil to remember late NDP leader Jack Layton in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday, August 22, 2011.
Hundreds of people gather for a candlelight vigil to remember late NDP leader Jack Layton in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday, August 22, 2011.
Hundreds of people gathered outside Toronto's City Hall to mourn the passing of NDP Leader Jack Layton (a former city councillor) on Monday, Aug. 22, 2011.
Hundreds of people gathered outside Toronto's City Hall to mourn the passing of NDP Leader Jack Layton (a former city councillor) on Monday, Aug. 22, 2011.
Vigil outside of Toronto's City Hall
Vigil outside of Toronto's City Hall
The steps of the Alberta legislature in Edmonton. The large crowd at Wednesday night's (August 24) vigil included many people who aren't NDP supporters but nevertheless came to pay their respects to party leader Jack Layton.
The steps of the Alberta legislature in Edmonton. The large crowd at Wednesday night's (August 24) vigil included many people who aren't NDP supporters but nevertheless came to pay their respects to party leader Jack Layton.
A large crowd gathered on Parliament Hill for the arrival of the hearse Wednesday morning.
A large crowd gathered on Parliament Hill for the arrival of the hearse Wednesday morning.
Members of the public line up on Parliament Hill to pay their respects to NDP Leader Jack Layton as his body lies in state in Ottawa, Wednesday, August 24, 2011.
Members of the public line up on Parliament Hill to pay their respects to NDP Leader Jack Layton as his body lies in state in Ottawa, Wednesday, August 24, 2011.
Olivia Chow, wife of NDP Leader Jack Layton, approaches her husband's casket as he lies in state in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday Aug. 24, 2011.
Olivia Chow, wife of NDP Leader Jack Layton, approaches her husband's casket as he lies in state in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday Aug. 24, 2011.
Olivia Chow and family members stand before the coffin containing her husband and Canada's leader of the Opposition Jack Layton in the Center Block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa August 24, 2011.
Olivia Chow and family members stand before the coffin containing her husband and Canada's leader of the Opposition Jack Layton in the Center Block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa August 24, 2011.
Large crowd gathered on Parliament Hill to see NDP Leader Jack Layton's coffin leave Ottawa, August 25, 2011.
Large crowd gathered on Parliament Hill to see NDP Leader Jack Layton's coffin leave Ottawa, August 25, 2011.
Sixty-one doves are released at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau on Thursday after the hearse bearing the casket of NDP Leader Jack Layton brought the body of the Quebec-born politician back to his home province one last time.
Sixty-one doves are released at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau on Thursday after the hearse bearing the casket of NDP Leader Jack Layton brought the body of the Quebec-born politician back to his home province one last time.
Olivia Chow looks over the memorial of flowers and notes left on Parliament Hill.
Olivia Chow looks over the memorial of flowers and notes left on Parliament Hill.
People wave Canadian flags and signs from an overpass as the hearse carrying Jack Layton's body passes along HWY 401 at Kingston, Ont., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011.
People wave Canadian flags and signs from an overpass as the hearse carrying Jack Layton's body passes along HWY 401 at Kingston, Ont., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011.
A Canadian flag is waved in Trenton, Ont., while waiting for Jack Layton's funeral motorcade to pass Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011.
A Canadian flag is waved in Trenton, Ont., while waiting for Jack Layton's funeral motorcade to pass Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011.
Crowds applaud as the casket containing NDP leader Jack Layton arrives at Toronto's City Hall on Thursday August 25, 2011, to lie in repose ahead of Saturday's state funeral.
Crowds applaud as the casket containing NDP leader Jack Layton arrives at Toronto's City Hall on Thursday August 25, 2011, to lie in repose ahead of Saturday's state funeral.
The funeral cortege carrying the body of federal NDP leader Jack Layton arrives from Parliament Hill at Toronto's city hall on Wednesday, August 25, 2011.
The funeral cortege carrying the body of federal NDP leader Jack Layton arrives from Parliament Hill at Toronto's city hall on Wednesday, August 25, 2011.
Messages in honour of Jack Layton written in chalk cover the pavement of Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.
Messages in honour of Jack Layton written in chalk cover the pavement of Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.
One of the thousands of messages written in chalk on the pavement outside of Toronto's City Hall.
One of the thousands of messages written in chalk on the pavement outside of Toronto's City Hall.
The makeshift wall of memorial outside City Hall, Toronto, August 25, 2011.
The makeshift wall of memorial outside City Hall, Toronto, August 25, 2011.
Line up for the visitation at City Hall, August 25, 2011.
Line up for the visitation at City Hall, August 25, 2011.
The coffin is placed to rest in Toronto City Hall, August 25, 2011.
The coffin is placed to rest in Toronto City Hall, August 25, 2011.
Olivia Chow and Mike Layton stand at the casket of NDP leader Jack Layton, placed to rest in Toronto City Hall in Toronto on Thursday, August 25, 2011.
Olivia Chow and Mike Layton stand at the casket of NDP leader Jack Layton, placed to rest in Toronto City Hall in Toronto on Thursday, August 25, 2011.
Olivia Chow and Jack's children, Mike and Sarah, greet mourners.
Olivia Chow and Jack's children, Mike and Sarah, greet mourners.
Olivia Chow hugs people standing in line to pay their respects.
Olivia Chow hugs people standing in line to pay their respects.
People pay their respects as they write messages on the sidewalks and a banner remembering late NDP leader Jack Layton in Toronto City Hall in Toronto on Friday, Aug. 26, 2011.
People pay their respects as they write messages on the sidewalks and a banner remembering late NDP leader Jack Layton in Toronto City Hall in Toronto on Friday, Aug. 26, 2011.
The banner is filled with hundreds of signatures and messages. It's been hung on the square's stage.
The banner is filled with hundreds of signatures and messages. It's been hung on the square's stage.
From left, Jack Layton's son Mike stands with his partner, Brett Tryon, his sister, Sarah, and Jack Layton's sister, Nancy, outside Toronto city hall.
From left, Jack Layton's son Mike stands with his partner, Brett Tryon, his sister, Sarah, and Jack Layton's sister, Nancy, outside Toronto city hall.
Nathan Phillips Square is filling up over the lunch hour, August 26, 2011.
Nathan Phillips Square is filling up over the lunch hour, August 26, 2011.
The viewing has ended, but there's still dozens standing by the Jack Layton makeshift memorial shrine at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, August 27, 2011.
The viewing has ended, but there's still dozens standing by the Jack Layton makeshift memorial shrine at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, August 27, 2011.
A tribute to Jack Layton written in chalk adorns a Toronto bike lane. As a member of city council, Layton promoted city cycling.
A tribute to Jack Layton written in chalk adorns a Toronto bike lane. As a member of city council, Layton promoted city cycling.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FUNERAL, AUGUST 27, 2011

Hundreds of people que outside Roy Thomson Hall August 27, 2011, to obtain tickets for the state funeral for Mr. Layton.
Hundreds of people que outside Roy Thomson Hall August 27, 2011, to obtain tickets for the state funeral for Mr. Layton.
People crowd outside Roy Thomson Hall ahead of funeral services for NDP leader Jack Layton in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011.
People crowd outside Roy Thomson Hall ahead of funeral services for NDP leader Jack Layton in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011.
Crowds line up along the procession route.
Crowds line up along the procession route.
Thousands line the streets along the procession route.
Thousands line the streets along the procession route.
Police lead the procession down Queen Street.
Police lead the procession down Queen Street.
Sarah Layton's daughter Beatrice looks out as her granddad's casket is carried from city hall during the funeral for NDP Leader Jack Layton August 27, 2011.
Sarah Layton's daughter Beatrice looks out as her granddad's casket is carried from city hall during the funeral for NDP Leader Jack Layton August 27, 2011.
Olivia Chow walks towards Roy Thomson Hall in the funeral procession with Mike and Sarah Layton and their families, August 27, 2011.
Olivia Chow walks towards Roy Thomson Hall in the funeral procession with Mike and Sarah Layton and their families, August 27, 2011.
Mourners along the procession route carry signs that read "Hope," "Optimism" and "Love," invoking Layton's farewell letter.
Mourners along the procession route carry signs that read "Hope," "Optimism" and "Love," invoking Layton's farewell letter.
Crowds of people filled David Pecaut Square in downtown Toronto to watch the service on large television screens. Roy Thomson Hall, where Laytons funeral was held, is seen in the background.
Crowds of people filled David Pecaut Square in downtown Toronto to watch the service on large television screens. Roy Thomson Hall, where Laytons funeral was held, is seen in the background.
Mourners filled St. Andrew's Church in Toronto to watch the service.
Mourners filled St. Andrew's Church in Toronto to watch the service.
Pallbearers carry the coffin of late NDP leader Jack Layton at his state funeral service in Roy Thomson Hall.
Pallbearers carry the coffin of late NDP leader Jack Layton at his state funeral service in Roy Thomson Hall.
Stephen Lewis pauses after delivering a eulogy during the state funeral for NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton.
Stephen Lewis pauses after delivering a eulogy during the state funeral for NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton.
Mike and Sarah Layton, children of NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton, speak during the state funeral for their father in Toronto August 27, 2011.
Mike and Sarah Layton, children of NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton, speak during the state funeral for their father in Toronto August 27, 2011.
Steven Page sings 'Hallelujah' during the state funeral for NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton in Toronto August 27, 2011.
Steven Page sings 'Hallelujah' during the state funeral for NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton in Toronto August 27, 2011.
Reverend Brent Hawkes gestures during the state funeral for NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton in Toronto August 27, 2011.
Reverend Brent Hawkes gestures during the state funeral for NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton in Toronto August 27, 2011.
Lorraine Segato sings 'Rise Up' during the state funeral for NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton in Toronto August 27, 2011.
Lorraine Segato sings 'Rise Up' during the state funeral for NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton in Toronto August 27, 2011.
The CN Tower is lit orange from sundown Saturday until sunrise Sunday to commemorate the passing of Jack Layton.
The CN Tower is lit orange from sundown Saturday until sunrise Sunday to commemorate the passing of Jack Layton.

Steven Page sings Hallelujah

Remembering Jack Layton: 1950-2011

Press conference in Toronto, July 25, 2011

Jack's 2010 interview with George Stroumboulopoulos

Jack with Rick Mercer

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Comments 1 comment

Denim 23 months ago

Fell out of bed feeling down. This has brtheigned my day!

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