Monday, August 22, 2011
Jack Layton: The Sadness and the Hope
I was walking my dog just before dawn this morning. There was a chill in the air I hadn't felt for months. But in the distance the sun was rising orange. So I should have known that Jack had died.
And when I found out I was so sad, not just for my MP Olivia, his family, his friends, and his party. But also for the Canada I love.
Because I admired Jack for many reasons. For standing up for the rights of women, gays and lesbians, seniors, and the poor people of this country.
I admired him for fighting so long for the human rights of homeless people.
Because believe me, like so many other humble citizens of this country, they too are mourning him today...
I admired Jack for the way he defended our precious medicare system from those who would destroy it.
I loved him for his down to earth humanity.
And for being a true friend of gay people...
But most of all I admired and loved him for the way he reached out to the French-speaking people of Quebec, and convinced them to give Canada another chance.
Because keeping our country together means everything to me.
I was watching the coverage on Radio Canada this afternoon, and reading their website, and it was deeply moving to see the tributes flowing in like a veritable torrent of grief.
Tributes like this one:
A great one, a sincere man, honest, positive, that's why we loved him. Thank you Jack.
Or this one:
Even if I'm only ten years old I think he was the best politician forever.
Because even a kid knew a good man when he saw one.
I was amazed how many of them compared him to Rene Levesque for his honesty and his humanity. Or all those who called on him, the Anglo federalist, to look after them from above.
My guess is that Quebecers just got themselves a new political saint, and that they will not easily forget him.
Just like I will never forget Jack's last message to Canadians.
His message of hope for cancer patients. His love for his country. His faith in the youth of Canada:
There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.
And his last words:
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.
Rest in peace my happy, brave warrior. For we will NEVER forget you.
Today we are sad. Tomorrow looks bleak.
But sooner or later we WILL change the world....