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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

RIP Jack

It is tempting not to say anything at all, as so many others have said it far better than I could. It would be easiest. I could avoid having to splash water on my face, all that.

But it would be a betrayal to a man that truly inspired me, that inspired so many of my friends, that made so many of us really believe in politics.

It is easy - and all too common - to throw around platitudes for public figures after their death. The funny thing is, Jack Layton was a man that I loved to talk about while he was alive. I don't think it was even a month ago that my husband and I were sitting on Captain Tightpants' bed, lamenting the latest moves of the Harper government and quite earnestly wishing and hoping that Jack would one day hold the office of the Prime Minister. We spoke then of the different face he put on politics - one of positivity, hope, and optimism. It stung, and made me smile a little, to see some of those words echoed in his final letter to Canadians.

Jack Layton was a man you felt you knew - I'm honoured to say that I've met him, and what's really cool is that isn't at all a rare thing - who wasn't trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes or make you believe in a false image of himself or of the New Democratic Party. He simply identified issues that really mattered, and did his best to go after them. He was a tremendous ally to youth, students, seniors, families, First Nations, the LGBT community, and marginalized people everywhere. And he did his work with vigor, humour, passion, and above all, positivity. Under Jack's leadership, politics didn't seem such a dirty game. He made it accessible, lively, vital, and even fun.

His final words speak clearly of the need to continue to fight the good fight. It is not a call to arms, but an open invitation - to join together in doing the right things, the best things, for the best of reasons. For love - of country, and of our fellow citizens.

Jack, you will be dearly missed.

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 1950-2011

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