Saturday, 27 August 2011

Jack Layton (1950-2011)

 During the last Canadian federal election, Jack Layton was widely revered as the political leader most Canadians would like to have a beer with.  There.  This post is now tangentially about beer.

To my eyes, Jack was the finest politician of his generation; a man who had wide appeal that transcended political lines.  He was undoubtedly pragmatic, yet he was unwilling to compromise his core values.  He was a voice for many Canadians who, without his presence on the political landscape, would have been wholly disenfranchised.
Those of you who know me personally know that I have a great love of local government.  One of my most constant refrains is that "everything is municipal."  Jack Layton was the consummate municipal politician.  He was on the cutting edge of any number of social issues.  He was willing to take unpopular stands because he believed in the cause.  He was a champion of the environment, AIDS education, LGBTQ issues, homelessness, and affordable housing.  The more I read about his work as a Toronto City Councillor, the more I appreciate how much of a lasting mark this incredible man left on the city I choose to live in.

As the leader of the NDP, Jack was nothing less than a dynamo.  He took a second-tier party and made it a unified force to be reckoned with.  Under his leadership, the political landscape in Canada has been fundamentally shifted.  Thanks to him, the left has a real voice in Parliament.

Jack Layton made a mark on me as well.  Though I never met him personally, I have heard his words.  His message was inspiring, but it was also challenging.  Jack called on all Canadians to excel, to fight for change.  In a world where politics tend toward the critical, Jack's words were uncommonly hopeful and aspirational.  He was a great individual: honourable, compelling, charming and brilliant.
For all the good that he did in Toronto and in Canada, I say cheers to Jack Layton.  He was one of a kind and he will be sorely missed.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely said, Stout Man. And the more I've learned about his role as a City Councillor, the more I've come to admire his courage and his principles. Definitely a champion of social justice who has inspired many. And, yes, we need more of his ilk.

    York Street Maven