Jack Layton, R.I.P.

Written by  //  August 27, 2011  //  Absent Friends, Canada  //  No comments

CBC SPECIAL REPORT: The death and legacy of Jack Layton
Layton to be honoured with rare state funeral
Layton funeral short on pomp, long on populism
It was a state funeral for a man of the people – short on pomp, long on populism, carefully crafted by the man who was no longer there. It was emotional, inspiring, personal, and also deeply political. It was partly a celebration of a life well-lived, and partly a call to action. Many of the speakers talked about a different kind of politics, especially of a return to civility.
25 August
Goodbye Jack
by Anne Lagacé Dowson
(Hour) … Most of the people mourning were young – the grey heads were few. But like Jack through the years, they were used to dealing with unfavourable winds.
Jack Layton’s ideas reach back generations into the soul of what is Canada. Our nation is a fair country. We all know that fairness sounds like a simple thing, but is very hard to apply in real life. Layton often found a way.
Chris Selley’s Full Pundit: Jack Layton, loved by most
The traditional airing of grievances
Barbara Kay, writing in the National Post, argues Jack Layton shouldn’t receive a state funeral because the rules don’t demand one, and because the only logical reason for Stephen Harper to offer one is to satisfy society’s weakness for over-the-top “teddy bear grief.” But we think there are plenty of other reasons that Layton’s demise struck a chord — as does John Moore, who takes issue in the Post with the notion (as espoused by Kay, Christie Blatchford and others) that the outpouring of grief over Layton’s death is just another example of modern society’s “misplaced sentimentality.”
The rapidity of his decline was especially “jarring and humbling,” Moore argues, as was the fact he succumbed to cancer at the pinnacle of his political career. As for his famous parting letter, which Blatchford notably derided, Moore has much the same reaction we did. Scoff at the letter if you like. (We did.) But “is principle now so rare that a man who stands firm for those things he believes in is seen as vainglorious, self-serving and stubborn?” Exactly. And balls to the state funeral rules, anyway (which explicitly allow Prime Ministerial discretion, incidentally). Run your finger down the current roster of the federal Cabinet and ask yourself: If all these people get one automatically, should we really consider the list of automatic recipients exhaustive?
Also, as Aaron Wherry points out in describing the scene on Parliament Hill Wednesday, the fact so many people clearly feel the need to pay their respects sort of proves the initiative is worthwhile all by itself. “The why doesn’t matter,” he writes. “Because here are all these people.”
24 August
John Moore: Why people are mourning Jack Layton
(National Post) Some see Jack’s final letter to Canadians as just more evidence of vanity, the desire to be a political star even in death. Perhaps it merely represents the force he might have brought to bear for the next 10 years concentrated into 1,000 words salted by the poignancy of his death. Robbed of the time to achieve his goals, he left a manifesto to spur on those who now pick up the baton.
People liked Jack as a man and his sunny celebration of our country was infectious. The Prime Minister has recognized this unique bond by making the unprecedented offer of a state funeral. There’s a reason why Canadians mourn this week. It’s the appreciation of personal qualities and uncompromised political vision that they wish all politicians drew on.
Adam Radwanski: A ‘date’ with Layton, his everyman appeal and the start of his climb
23 August
Jack Layton: Front Pages Across Canada Mark His Death (PHOTOS) The death of NDP Leader Jack Layton made headlines in every newspaper across Canada. Here’s a collection of Tuesday morning’s front pages, sourced from Newseum.
22 August
The National Post’s Randy Boswell does an outstanding job of chronicling Jack Layton’s life
Jack Layton dies of cancer
From the distant vantage of history, the height of Layton’s life will appear to coincide precisely with its end. There may be some solace for his followers — and for all admiring Canadians — that Layton’s death will be inextricably linked with his finest hour.
Canada mourns ‘courageous’ Jack Layton
(CBC) Layton died peacefully early Monday, according to a statement from his wife, Olivia Chow, and his children, Sarah and Michael Layton.
“We deeply regret to inform you that the Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones,” the statement read.
(Wall Street Journal) Canada Opposition’s Jack Layton Dies

This singularly mean-spirited approach fortunately does not reflect the majority of either the public’s or the media’s response to Jack Layton’s death. Christie Blatchford: RIP Jack Layton: behind the grin, a canny, ambitious politician
By the accounts of those who knew him best and loved him most, if there was a truly private side of Jack Layton, it was but a sliver of the man who happily lived virtually his entire adult life in the public eye — a 24/7 politician who was always “on.”
(Post media news) Yes, his death at 61 was sad and too soon; yes, he made an enormous contribution to his party and a significant one to Canada (though I would quibble with NDP MP Libby Davies’ characterization that “He gave his life for this country”); yes, he fought a brave battle against cancer, as, mind you, does just about anyone who has it; and yes, he was a likable, agreeable, smiley man.
Yet what was truly singular about him was how consumed by politics he was and how publicly, yet comfortably, he lived.
Remembering Jack Layton – 1950-2011 – Gazette Special section
Jack Layton, dead at 61, never lost focus on NDP’s future
(Globe & Mail) The day before he died, Jack Layton was sitting up, his mind was sharp and he was talking politics and the future with his long-time chief of staff Anne McGrath and party president Brian Topp. … it was her last conversation with her good friend and boss that Ms. McGrath recalled Monday. “We talked about the future,” she told The Globe.
She said “Jack had tasked us” with presenting different scenarios as to how the party should proceed if he didn’t come back in the fall – as he had vowed he would – how that fall session would go and, in “the event that he was going to pass, what would we do.”
Mr. Layton also penned a letter to Canadians on Saturday in which he outlines his vision for the country. And in it he speaks to Canadians and Quebeckers, asking them to take on his fight.
Layton’s last words: ‘Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear’
(Globe & Mail) Just before he signed off, Mr. Layton, who always practiced civility in politics, said: “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.”
Remembering Jack Layton
(Ottawa Citizen) You never think that someone of Layton’s stature will die in the pinnacle of his career and life despite all evidence to the contrary. Thus I was shocked like most people when news broke on Monday that he had died. Most of us are optimists and expected or hoped for him to pull through.
Layton obviously felt strongly about democracy and his party to spend the last few months of his life on the hustings rather than with family and friends. He was a very capable leader which explains why many Canadians held their collective noses about his NDP affiliation and voted for him. Layton seemed to me to be the best leader.
André Pratte: La vague noire
Depuis l’annonce du décès de Jack Layton, les témoignages de sympathie affluent. La nouvelle attriste profondément des millions de Canadiens, notamment de Québécois. Lors de la dernière campagne électorale, une connexion forte s’était établie entre «Jack» et les électeurs du Québec. On ne saura jamais comment la maladie de M. Layton et le courage dont il a fait preuve ont joué dans le déferlement de la vague orange du 2 mai. Mais il y a un lien, c’est sûr. De même que la terrible maladie dont a failli mourir Lucien Bouchard lui a valu une affection populaire encore plus grande. La maladie nous fait redécouvrir le côté humain des personnages politiques.
… Jack Layton laisse un précieux héritage aux Canadiens. D’abord un approche déterminée mais modérée visant à faire en sorte que le Parlement travaille pour les plus démunis. Ensuite, la foi que la politique peut produire des résultats concrets pour les gens ordinaires. Enfin, par sa performance le 2 mai, il nous laisse une scène politique profondément transformée. Ses héritiers ont la responsabilité de faire en sorte que cette occasion de changer les choses ne sera pas gaspillée.
Jack Layton est mort
Jack Layton, le chef du NPD, est mort des suites d’un cancer lundi matin. «Nous avons le regret de vous annoncer que l’Honorable Jack Layton, chef du Nouveau Parti démocratique du Canada, est décédé à 4 h 45 ce matin, le lundi 22 août, a écrit son épouse, Olivia Chow, dans un communiqué. Il est décédé paisiblement chez lui, entouré de ses proches. Les détails en lien avec les funérailles de M. Layton vous seront communiqués prochainement.»
C’est l’animateur de CBC, Peter Mansbridge, qui en a fait l’annonce ce matin sur le réseau d’information continue anglophone de la télévision d’État. La nouvelle a soulevé de nombreuses réactions sur les réseaux sociaux. Plusieurs ont manifesté leur tristesse du décès de celui qui avait pris un congé de la politique à la fin de juillet, afin de se battre contre un nouveau cancer.

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