Death Of A Statesman: Thoughts On Jack Layton.

Posted on August 23, 2011. Filed under: Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Canadian Politics, Global Warming, Personal, Politics, Social Justice |

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.

-Jack Layton, In his last letter to Canadians.

Yesterday morning Canada lost a great voice for social justice.

Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, died surrounded by friends and family- not of the prostate cancer he very publicly battled over the past few years- but of a new cancer that he was diagnosed with just one month ago.

Jack’s legacy can not be overstated.  His tireless work during his 30 years in public office of fighting for the poor and homeless- first as a Toronto City Councillor and later as an MP and Leader of the NDP harken back to the days when politicians were guided into politics out of principled idealism to make Canada better for Canadians.  In an age where politicians seem to care about staying the course, Jack asked us to abandon the well worn trail and search together for a better path.  He sought public office not just to win but to be a voice for those most affected by policies and most disaffected by politics.

Jack laboured his entire career for those who needed a voice the most.  He was an advocate for Aboriginal issues, and helped craft the Government letter of apology for the horrors of residential schools.  He was instrumental in starting the White Ribbon Campaign in response to the Montreal Massacre in 1991- raising awareness of violence against women.  He offered up his home as equity to keep the campaign running, and its first headquarters was the bedroom of Jack’s son, Micheal, now a Toronto city Councillor himself.   He was instrumental in putting Toronto at the forefront of AIDS activism, becoming one of the greatest political champions of the issue. He lobbied Council for a Gay and Lesbian Pride Day in Toronto as early as 1989. His advocacy in Parliament of Same-sex Marriage is no doubt the reason Canadians today can boast of our strides in social equity.

In Toronto, Jack fought and won the battle to make the city one of the most accessible in North America for cyclists.  His commitment to the simple ways we can help the environment will have a lasting impact in Toronto in particular and Canada as a whole.  He was one of the architects behind the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, which diverted monies from the sale of City land toward green initiatives.  His legacy includes wind power initiatives in Toronto, and Enwave, an environmentally sustainable energy company half owned by the City of Toronto- a company that uses Deep Lake Water Cooling to air condition highrises in the city center.

I think that, in politics as in life, we need to be guided by an ideal and govern in reality.

Perhaps the most important thing Jack did was show Canadians that we could be a community of equals, people who work together and for each other; that we could be a country proud of how we treat each other- that social justice and equity were not Utopian pipe dreams, but responsible and attainable goals.  He convinced enough of us that we could do good to make his party the official opposition in the last election.  He did this with a party that was, when he took the helm in 2003, a marginalized socialist labour party that was a perennial also-ran in the Federal landscape.  Who knows what he could have accomplished if his life were not cut short.

The last week or two, I had been mulling over writing a post about what I want to see in my political leaders in response to some of the talk with Americans about the upcoming 2012 elections.  I think if I had have thought long and hard about it, I would have told them to look up Jack Layton.  I think that, in politics as in life, we need to be guided by an ideal and govern in reality.  Jack did this better than anyone, and he made both look possible.  There is always an ideal- a society that exemplifies all those things that are best in humanity- but the real world doesn’t always make it simple or practical to get there.  When you look back at a career that spans almost my entire lifetime, Jack never sacrificed his vision- he never lost sight of Shangri-La.  He was always moving in the direction of Better- always inching toward the best city- the best Country- he could give his fellow Canadians.  Yes, there were realities.  Yes, there were stumbling blocks.  It would be so easy to just lose sight of where you are going and settle for what you have.  The great leaders get it.  They see the reality and ask how they can shape it, they see the stumbling block and ask how they might remove it.

  An Ideologue goes charging blind headlong toward the precipice, a Politician tries to keep us happy on our own side, a Leader asks how we might bridge the gap.  Jack was a leader. 

Here is to you, Jack.

Here is to Heroes, those whose spirit transcends mortality.
Here is to Leaders, those whose determination brings us together.

Jack Layton: July 18 1950- August 22 2011

Here is to Visionaries, those whose eyes are fixed on a better tomorrow.
Here is to Great Men, those whose ranks have lost another.
My Hero. A Leader, a Visionary, a Great Man,
history can do you no justice- it is up to us-
to make our future a testament to your life,
to your vision, to your spirit.
Here, my friends, is to Heroes,
and a man who saw a Hero in us all.
I’ll miss you Jack.




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7 Responses to “Death Of A Statesman: Thoughts On Jack Layton.”

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Beautifully written.

Jack Layton, the hope you had for Canada will not end with you.

He inspired so many of us.

Perhaps the most important thing Jack did was show Canadians that we could be a community of equals, people who work together and for each other; that we could be a country proud of how we treat each other- that social justice and equity were not Utopian pipe dreams, but responsible and attainable goals.

This. A thousand times, this.

I love these kinds of people who leave such a legacy. I think of Papa (my India friend who rescued over 15000 orphans during his lifetime with a single-hearted passion), Gandhi, Nelson Mandela…so many men and women who have truly left an inspiring mark on the world. This was a great tribute, Geo.

What makes me both Sad & MAD is if the Lame Stream Media is not in some kind of a conspiracy between them Doctors and Drug companies, he may still be alive!

IF you know another way to discribe how a “Natural Healing Miracle” which very effectively treats and/or cures over 90 different injuries and illnesses both on the insides and the outsides of our bodies is NOT widely known?

For FIFTEEN YEARS i have been drinking daily & when needed, using topically. what I consider to be a true MIRACLE!

(And it is a “Junior Miracle” when this Agnostic Atheist Activist calls any thing a “miracle.”)
For some FOURTEEN Years I have tried over and over again to get some news organization do the necessary in-depth research to verify
what is so good it even after 15 years,

There are some 300 brands out there, this is not a ad, it is VALUABLE information.

It is the juice of a fruit grown in the tropics all around the world and thus has many names. The one it is most known as NONI JUICE!

I am 76, started drinking it when I was 62 and I have NOT had any of the typical Aches and Pains of age since! Still do not need eye glasses, no more sore muscles or any Flu. Better Sleep and Dreams, STOPS the pain of burns when it is applied!

And, drinking Noni Juice will decrease a persons desire to smoke to where they have NO Desire left!
My experience is that it is around 80% as effective as morphine for pain and it BOOSTS our immune systems OVER

So can someone give me a good reason WHY something which many MILLIONS KNOW what I have said about it is true is NOT as well known as I sumit somthing this great should be?

I believe if every person did know all about the really fantastic things Noni Juice does, the Drug companies would lose MANY TRILLIONS of Dollars!

Congratulations Neil C. Reinhardt!
You just pissed me off with your entirely ridiculous, inappropriate, logically disjointed, and credulous sputum of a comment. I wrote a response that you can read here, as well as a follow up post on your Magic Woo Vomit Juice that I’ll be posting later in the week.
Here is the synopsis, in case you want to tl;dr the whole post:
You are credulous.
You are incapable of living in a coherent reality.
You are a semi-professional asshole troll.
Your Woo Juice tastes like vomit, and doesn’t do nearly as much as you claim.
I’m going to make it a personal mission to publicize how worthless your Magic Woo Vomit Juice really is.
Congratulations! You just got me angry. Good luck with that.

I agree with everything you say about this asshat except one: What make you think he is a semi-profesional asshole troll? I would think he is a fully professional asshole troll.

Back to the topic at hand, that is a marvelous tribute to Jack Layton

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