Monday, August 22, 2011

Fare thee well, Jack

Canada lost a visionary today. Oh, I didn't necessarily agree with his vision and I didn't vote for him in the last election, but that didn't make me respect him any less. I never doubted for a second that Jack Layton had Canada's best interests at heart, even if the implementation of his vision would have been Utopian at best. Jack Layton reminded us to swing for the fences, and leading his party to official opposition status reminded us that anything is possible.

I remember him best as a city councillor when he refused to sit at a debate with then leader of the Heritage Front (a white supremacist group), Wolfgang Droege. I was just a pup figuring out my political leanings at the time, but I will never forget the  tremendous respect I gained for Smilin' Jack at that moment. It's hard to be principled in our world, but that never mattered to Jack Layton. I think most Torontonians remember him as much for his vehement defences of the less fortunate and commitment to his constituents in our fair city as they will for his federal accomplishments.

A skilled politician to the end, Jack Layton wrote a deathbed letter to Canadians that made me cry at work. I could choose to cynical about the timing of the release of the letter, but I prefer to leave that to others. For example, there's the column written by Christie Blatchford calling him out for the "opportunistic" timing of the release. I dropped the C-bomb about her thoughts when I first read it and I stand by my initial reaction. She's not necessarily wrong in her assessment, but the timing of her comments calls her own principles into question. I suppose my use of the C-bomb could also be up for debate, but I'm not a nationally syndicated columnist criticizing a passionate, caring politician for his politicking to the very end.

From opening up his Eco-friendly home for the Rick Mercer Report to the frequent mentions of how fun he was to have a beer with, Jack Layton will be remembered a genuine human being who was doing his best to bring hope to a cynical populace. Was he successful? Only time will tell. I live in his riding, where he was a fixture when parliament was on break, just being himself with his people and his guitar. We don't need time to tell us Canada was richer for having him as a Jiminy Cricket to the current government's policies. His presence will be sorely missed on Parliament Hill and his passion will be missed by us all.

Fare thee well, Jack. The world was a better place with you in it. You've left behind some mighty big shoes to fill.


Hippofatamus said...

This was really nicely written. People didn't have to vote for him or even agree with his politics (I actually did both)to be able to recognize that he was a good man and an even better Canadian.

He letter also made me cry, especially the part directed at fellow Canadians who have Cancer (As I do).

Christie Blatchford is a classless c- word. There have been a few times I've felt outrage after reading her articles, never more than I did when reading that piece of poorly timed garbage.

Nice to see you write about him on your blog!

Found you through the Canadian Blog Hop!

The Host said...

Cool! I love talking about Canadian political figures and not getting "Who?" in response. :)