Friday, August 23, 2013
Remembering Jack Layton and the Man on the Bike
At the end of a long day, it's always a welcome sight. The little terminal to the Toronto Islands, and in the summer my escape hatch out of the city. But its new name makes it look even better.
Because Jack Layton loved the islands as much as I do. I'd see him there all the time riding a bicycle with Olivia Chow. And of course because like so many others, I loved Jack.
So today on the second anniversary of his death, I thought this was really neat.
A statue memorializing Jack Layton was unveiled Thursday, a life-size bronze sculpture depicting the former federal NDP leader riding a tandem bike and wearing a broad smile as he rolls along the city's lakeshore.
And beyond the sadness of the anniversary, what struck me was how today's event brought together even some of the fiercest of political enemies. Like Rob Ford, who came up with the idea to rename the terminal, and Sid Ryan, whose Ontario Federation of Labour donated the statue.
Standing there side by side, to pay tribute to Layton. Can you believe that eh?
But then Jack always had the ability to bring people together. To bring out the best in them, to make people laugh. It was hard to hate him.
And he was loved by many...
His death at the height of his popularity, was a cruel blow, a very sad thing.
I'll never forget how moved I was by the sight of Toronto City Hall turned into a giant chalk memorial...
Or how inspired I was by his last words.
So two years later, I couldn't wait to see the new more permanent memorial.
By the time I went by there this evening the large crowd that was there earlier had departed.
So I was able to stand there and stare at the statue for a while, and decide what I thought of it...
And although it reminded me of the journey we didn't get to take together. The one that was so suddenly and sadly interrupted. When I STILL couldn't help smiling I knew it was a good one eh?
And when I jumped on the front seat I liked it even better. Because it's fun, it's Jack, he's inviting you to get involved, and he'll always be coming home from the islands he loved.
Although I do wonder what future generations will make of it? What will parents tell their children on their way to the ferry?
And I guess it will be something like this:
He was a famous politician who never became REALLY famous, like a Prime Minister, because he died too soon. But he fought for all the right issues. For the powerless and the poor people. And he was greatly loved by many Canadians.
He was a good man, he was Jack, the Happy Warrior.
And now for the ages, the man on the bike...
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