We arrived home yesterday to news that Jack Layton, leader of the official opposition, long time head of the NDP and even longer Toronto city councilor, had lost his fight with cancer and passed away. Only today, when I had a few minutes to stop and consider the news, and see the impromptu memorials scrawled across Toronto walls, did I really absorb what had happened. Canada had lost its most charismatic politician, and one of its few true leaders.
There’s no point in getting too deep into his life and legacy; others have done that better than I could hope to. I’ll simply highlight a perfect example of what the man was about: the closing paragraph of the letter Layton wrote just two days before his death, when he knew he was out of time. At a time when selfish or defeated thoughts would have been poisoning the minds of even the best of us, Jack Layton chose to inspire rather than lament.
“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.”
We’ll miss you, Jack. I’ll miss you.