Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Saying Goodbye to a Great Human Being

Jack Layton, leader of the NDP, the official opposition passed away early Monday morning from cancer.

Few times in my life have I felt great sadness at the loss of a public figure.  JFK, Martin Luther King are among those I have mourned.  Now Jack Layton joins that list. All these people were robbed of their lives before their time. Two of them taken by human hands and one of them robbed of life by a terrible disease that does not discriminate between rich or poor, good or bad.

I met Jack on several occasions. The most memorable for me was the year I was a photographer for the NDP at the Vancouver Pride Parade.  When Jack arrived in the area everyone got excited. Jack would walk through the line up of waiting parade participants chatting with everyone and having his picture taken over and over again with many of them. He treated everyone equally. No matter if you were the prime minister or an ordinary 'Joe' . He took the time to listen and get to know you.He always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. His optimism was infectious. As Jack's car drove the parade route people called his name, clapped and ran up to the car to hug him. He had a charisma that the crowd sensed. Every one  felt that Jack was one of them. And indeed he was.

The news papers tell us the Prime Minister has agreed to have a state funeral for Jack. This is rarely done except for sitting or past  Prime Ministers and royalty.  It is a sign of greatness, but Jack does not need a state funeral to tell Canadians that fact. Anyone who ever met Jack or was in his presence for any length of time knew they were in the presence of a great human being. A great Canadian and a good man. A man who never tired of fighting for social justice and a better life for all Canadians.

Jack penned a letter that included words of wisdom to  everyone just days before his death.  He urged Canadians for remember that Canada is a great country, but also said we can be a better one.  However I was especially moved by his words to fellow cancer survivors such as myself.   He urged us to not be discouraged because treatment had not worked for him. Instead he urged usto remain "optimistic, determined, and focused on the future".  He also advised us to "cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey".

Finally he had this to say:

"My friend, 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."

Thank you Jack for all that you have given to this country.

May your spirit be eternally at peace.
The entire letter can be read here Jack Layton letter.


  1. What a nice tribute! He was the one with the limp, right? He seemed well-spoken and charismatic. I didn't agree with anything he said, of course, but he seemed to be popular with his followers.

  2. I agreed to pretty much all he stood for and what his vision for Canada was.I don't understand people who didn't and i still don't, however it's refreshing to hear of the many followers who voted for somebody else be truely sad at his passing as they know we lost a great Canadian.He was an ordinary guy and just one of us, yet a wonderful smart man and we will miss him and his genuine smile and great wisdom very much.
    R.I.P. Jack.

  3. Catz, you need to read what this blogger wrote about Jack: http://mysteahag.blogspot.com/ She was affected much as you.