Today is the state funeral for the Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, and the Leader of the Official Opposition in the Canadian Parliament, Mr. Jack Layton. Like many other Canadians, I was surprised by the depth of the sadness I felt on hearing that Mr. Layton had passed away on Monday, only months after scoring a huge election victory for his party. And his last letter to Canadians was inspirational and moving, a reminder to us that we have been, and can be again, better than we are now. In Now Magazine this week, Jian Ghomeshi wrote these words of tribute to “Jack”, as Canadians have come to call Mr. Layton:
Jack developed as a politician and a statesman over the years. He grew into himself. There were elections he did not win early on and times when I debated friends who accused him of being too slick or inconsistent or radical, or not radical enough.
But he found his footing, becoming Canada’s most beloved and admired political figure. He learned to play to his genuine nature. He learned that the general public tends to appreciate it when our leaders are real. And no matter what their views on his politics, by the big election in 2011, very few in this country doubted Jack’s honesty or commitment to his beliefs.
So, today I’m wearing orange, the NDP colour, in tribute to Mr. Layton and his accomplishments, and as a reminder to myself that, as he wrote only last Saturday:
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.