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Jack Layton has passed away
August 22, 2011 6:04 AM   Subscribe

Jack Layton has passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Jack Layton was the leader of Canada's NDP and the first NDPer to be Leader of the Opposition. He represented the Toronto-Danforth from 2004 onwards.

CBC obituary.
Layton's voting record.
Layton's parliamentary biography.
posted by Lemurrhea (389 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
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We'll miss you, Jack.
posted by bread-eater at 6:05 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Previously, Jack stepping down to fight his cancer.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:06 AM on August 22, 2011


This is a great loss for Canada.
posted by jeather at 6:07 AM on August 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


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posted by smitt at 6:07 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by djfiander at 6:08 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by samhyland at 6:08 AM on August 22, 2011


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My twitter feed is full of people openly crying at work.

I don't have any words yet.
posted by avocet at 6:08 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:08 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by banal evil at 6:09 AM on August 22, 2011


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*sigh.
posted by Fizz at 6:10 AM on August 22, 2011


Godspeed, Jack. You did good.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:10 AM on August 22, 2011


This is awful, and for some reason, it took me by surprise -- it just seems so soon.

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posted by cider at 6:12 AM on August 22, 2011


BREAKING NEWS: Jack Layton steps down from NDP leadership to take some time "to sit down with this God fellow and talk about how we might improve things for the average man."
posted by mightygodking at 6:13 AM on August 22, 2011 [44 favorites]


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He was a Canadian politician I truly respected. This is sad to hear.
posted by Kitteh at 6:14 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only party membership I've ever had in my name was a federal NDP membership. It was 2003, and I'd gone with a friend to a neighbourhood barbecue in Toronto to meet a guy who was a longshot contender for the NDP leadership. I'd long said I would start actively participate in politics if I ever heard a politician speaking clearly and wisely on climate change and energy issues, and here was Jack Layton, over hot dogs on a front lawn in Chinatown, doing just that.

I joined; to my surprise, he beat the business-as-usual candidates and won the leadership. He made politics seem more noble and useful. He'll be sorely missed. RIP.

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posted by gompa at 6:15 AM on August 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


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posted by ColdChef at 6:15 AM on August 22, 2011


Definitely the saddest I've ever been at the passing of a politician. We need more representatives like Jack.
posted by Go Banana at 6:15 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Never heard of the guy. 61 is far too young. Reading about his accomplishments and the way he lived his life, sounds like he was a good one. It's too bad I only learned of him from reading his obituary.

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posted by dubitable at 6:16 AM on August 22, 2011


Very sad. I hope Olivia Chow is holding up alright.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:16 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


very sad news.
posted by bonehead at 6:18 AM on August 22, 2011


Whatever you might say about Jack, he had a knack for attracting smart, competent people to stand as MPs. And more importantly, he encouraged them to use those smarts and competence in their work in Parliament.

RIP Jack, you did good.
posted by LN at 6:18 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


So sad at reading this news. Jack brought a reasonable voice to politics and inspired me to get interested in what was happening in my country. So rare these days.
posted by kanata at 6:19 AM on August 22, 2011


oh my god. this is terrible news. The NDP is the only decent political party on this entire continent. Fuck cancer so much. I mean, I feel like I should be saying something about Layton as a person or something, but, really, I don't know much about him as a person. All I know is that he was the most effective leader, ever, of the only intelligent and moral (but I repeat myself) political party within thousands of miles of me, and it fucking terrible that he won't be alive to be prime minister five years from now.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:20 AM on August 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


We need to beat this cancer thing.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:20 AM on August 22, 2011


Fuck.
posted by Sternmeyer at 6:20 AM on August 22, 2011


Very sad, a good man. RIP.
posted by kaat at 6:21 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by SNACKeR at 6:21 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by beau jackson at 6:21 AM on August 22, 2011


My twitter feed is full of people openly crying at work.

I am trying very hard not to.

My father ran for the NDP back in the late 80's (didn't win) and teaches polisci, we've always been a leftist household. My sister's partner works for the NDP, he used to be working communications for Paul Dewar and is now doing the same for one of the new MPs, not sure who. I need to drop him a line and see how he's doing, but I know that today he's going to be busy as all hell.

Two months ago people will remember this post on the Canada Post filibuster run by the NDP. I was incredibly excited to watch that, staying up most of the night to do so. It was great watching the NDP take charge of the room in one of their early acts as Opposition, while the Conservatives sniped about fiscal restraint and the Liberals tried to insinuate that they were the only ones trying to reach a compromise. It definitely gave me hope for the future of Canadian politics.

Now I'm not sure what to think. I don't look forward to the leadership struggle, though.

HOWEVER, the NDP has some talented people working for it, and so many passionate people, that I trust they can do well and honour Jack's memory. And put to rest that misguided, sneering notion that the NDP was a cult of personality based around Jack. Fuck that crap. We'll mourn by improving the country. We'll grieve by restoring our dignity.

Sorry, I'm not trying to run my thread, especially not an obit thread. I'll step back now.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:21 AM on August 22, 2011 [13 favorites]


There are a lot of sad people in Canada today.
posted by bicyclefish at 6:22 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a sad day for Canada. Rest in peace, Jack.
posted by ddaavviidd at 6:23 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


In 1993, I was in my second year of university in Toronto, living in the Ryerson residence on the 10th floor; one of those apartment-style spaces where five bedrooms shared a kitchenette, two bathrooms, and a living space. There was a federal election going on at the time, and one day there's a knock at the door and I answer it and it's a kid -- well, somebody around my age, so a "kid" from my perspective now -- asking how I'm going to vote.

So I tell him I don't know and he asks if I've considered voting NDP and I say not really, and he says I should, and we have a short conversation, and I wind up asking him I-don't-remember-what. I was being an ass at the time, I'm pretty damn sure, and probably just trying to stump this person for the sake of stumping them.

Whatever it was, I stumped him. And he says "hang on a minute, I'll go get Jack." And he leaves.

Five minutes later, another knock on the door, and it's Jack Layton. He introduces himself and I invite him into my shitty residence common space and he comes in and sits down and we have a ten-minute conversation. I'm 20, I'm a shitty kid that doesn't know anything about anything, and he comes in and sits down and treats me as seriously as a Fortune 500 CEO or a labour leader or whoever the hell.

On the way out, he gives me a tea towel with his picture printed on it, riding information, all that. I'm a bit baffled, and he says "I was thinking before the election of how wasteful all those posters are, and thought it might be a good idea if I gave people something useful for a change."

I ask him if he's aware -- this I do remember -- that people all over the riding are going to be wiping dishes with his face. He laughs and says that's a risk he's willing to take.

I voted for Jack. I've been voting NDP ever since that day.

And now I live in a riding with the youngest MP in the history of the nation, a 19-year-old that never expected to get elected and who is, I imagine, more than a little overwhelmed and probably a bit scared and was probably relying on Jack to give him good advice and sound counsel.

To treat him seriously.

I need to get out there and volunteer for this kid; to try to figure out how I can help make politics in this country better.

Godspeed, Jack Layton. Thanks for everything.
posted by Shepherd at 6:24 AM on August 22, 2011 [321 favorites]


Yeah YCTaB -- in the past ten years the Canadian PM field has been about as sharp as a sack of wet mice, and along comes Jack Layton -- thoughtful, considerate, well spoken and earnest making me think that when asSHole out there'd be someone just perfect to step in. Now what do we have to look forward to? Maybe it's a selfish thought, but DAMN.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:24 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


That the passing of someone I've never met could invoke such strong emotions in myself and so many others speaks volumes of the man.

He was a strong voice in Canadian politics. His energy and love for Canada will be missed.
posted by samhyland at 6:25 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always thought Jack didn't do enough to drag the NDP into the modern age and towards a realistic chance at winning a majority govt, and I suspect his successor will be even less inclined to do so. But I never doubted the strength of his political convictions, even when I disagreed with them. He was a good man.
posted by modernnomad at 6:26 AM on August 22, 2011


So sad. RIP Jack.
posted by adamd1 at 6:27 AM on August 22, 2011


Forgot to mention: I still have the tea towel. It's hanging in my kitchen.

It has yet to touch a dish.
posted by Shepherd at 6:28 AM on August 22, 2011 [32 favorites]


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Damn. Godspeed Jack.
posted by arcticseal at 6:31 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by eendje at 6:31 AM on August 22, 2011


Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit. I knew this was coming, but really hoped he'd pull through.

RIP Smilin' Jack.

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posted by aclevername at 6:31 AM on August 22, 2011


A profile of "Jack of Hearts" from late May, right after the election.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:33 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by Salmonberry at 6:34 AM on August 22, 2011


I'm not going to do my usual swearing. This is just awful. In the last post on Jack, I said that I thought he was a lot more ill than many thought, but I'm still shocked that he was so close to death.

He was a good man. We could use more like him. My sympathies with his devastated family and friends.
posted by maudlin at 6:35 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by jhandey at 6:36 AM on August 22, 2011


He's my MP. I'm so sad for Olivia. They were so great together. What charisma!

I can't think of who the heir apparent would be.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:37 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by Gridlock Joe at 6:38 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by saturday_morning at 6:38 AM on August 22, 2011


I don't have a special story where I can claim to have sat down with Jack or even something as small as a hand-shake. Usually, you hear of stuff like this, say something along the lines of: "That's a shame." and then you move along with the rest of your day. I'm finding that really hard to do today. I will say this: I voted for the man, not the party...that's how much I respected him.
posted by Fizz at 6:41 AM on August 22, 2011


This is affecting me much more than I thought it would. He was great at speaking for those people who don't always get a voice in our country.

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posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 6:41 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't help wishing Ed Broadbent could take over as interim leader, though I suppose that would really ruffle some feathers...
posted by stinkycheese at 6:41 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


A few years ago I was sitting inside Dangerous Dan's when Jack Layton walked through the door. Dangerous Dan's was catering a local NDP event and Jack was there to iron out the details. A woman shouted out, "I voted for you, Jack!" Jack grinned and said, "Then I work for you!" Everyone in the restaurant was staring. We couldn't keep our eyes off him. The man had so much energy and charisma he practically glowed.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:43 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have no idea which is worse, to work your whole life and never quite achieve the success you were hoping for or finally achieve it and then have cancer yank it away from you before you got to do more than take it out for a brief spin. I don't even believe in God and I'm kind of pissed off at him on Jack's behalf this morning.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:43 AM on August 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


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posted by typewriter at 6:45 AM on August 22, 2011


This is terrible news for the country. Now was the time when we needed him most.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:46 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by mrgroweler at 6:48 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by KevCed at 6:49 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by h0p3y at 6:49 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by monkeymike at 6:50 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by coust at 6:51 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by tivalasvegas at 6:52 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by TheGoodBlood at 6:52 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by molecicco at 6:52 AM on August 22, 2011


I'm having a very hard time trying not to cry this morning, and I can't honestly think of a single other politician in my lifetime for whom I'd have the same viscerally emotional reaction. It's amazing how he managed to make people feel that he actually cared about them and their collective future in a way that was so appealing and real, rather than smarmy or self-interested. I think Canada has lost an incredibly important voice and I'm not sure what will fill that hole. And I need to find my "Don't Trash the 'Stache" pin.

Tell me, if we all volunteer, couldn't we filibuster God for a while on this issue?
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posted by ilana at 6:54 AM on August 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


Thanks Jack. RIP.
posted by radiocontrolled at 6:56 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by anthill at 6:57 AM on August 22, 2011


Noontime memorial on Parliament Hill being organized on Twitter for noon today, the Star says.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:58 AM on August 22, 2011


Jack was a rare politician...one for whom the message and the cause were more important than the election results. RIP.
posted by rocket88 at 7:00 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


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He's the only politician whose charisma and vision made me join a political party.

Condolences to Olivia, Sarah and Mike.
posted by scruss at 7:01 AM on August 22, 2011


I'm listening to CBC radio announcers with tears in their voices...this is a monumental disaster.
posted by jrochest at 7:01 AM on August 22, 2011


This is just the saddest thing. I can't believe this has happened.
posted by oulipian at 7:01 AM on August 22, 2011


Really sad to hear this just now. It seems completely unfair.
posted by chococat at 7:05 AM on August 22, 2011


CBC television online. Currently interviewing Layton's Chief of Staff, I'm afraid I don't know her name.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:07 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by Quiplash at 7:07 AM on August 22, 2011


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I love this pic.
posted by mazola at 7:07 AM on August 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


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posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:08 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by chunking express at 7:10 AM on August 22, 2011


A month ago I was shocked by how bad he looked, how quickly. I really hoped it was the treatments doing such a number on him - but I was afraid it meant he didn't have much time left. I'm so sorry to hear my fear confirmed this morning, so soon after.
posted by flex at 7:10 AM on August 22, 2011


I'm sorry, Canada. I didn't know the guy, but as your neighbor, I feel like bringing you some lasagna or something.
posted by desjardins at 7:12 AM on August 22, 2011 [27 favorites]


I just realized that Jack was born about 40 days before my father.

That's not something I am ok with.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:13 AM on August 22, 2011


A lot of obits are focusing, understandably, on his time as leader of the NDP, but you can find some information on his achievements as a Toronto City Councillor here and here.

During that time he was a passionate advocate for the homeless and environmental sustainability. He helped make Toronto the world leader in environmental reform it is/was before Rob Ford got elected.

Olivia is my MP, and I've voted for her many times. Trying hard not to cry at work.

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posted by dry white toast at 7:14 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


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posted by joeycoleman at 7:16 AM on August 22, 2011


I don't do the . thing.

He was a man, take him for all in all; I shall not look upon his like again.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:16 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


My twitter feed is full of people openly crying at work.

Having a tough time myself. Professional appearances are one thing, but my big boss with his glossy 8x10 of him, his wife, and Smilin' Steve at some fundraiser, a photo signed and framed and sent courtesy of the Official Photographer to the Prime Minister -- yeah. Trying my best to keep my loss, frustration and anger to myself.

posted by Capt. Renault at 7:18 AM on August 22, 2011


This hurts. Alot.

I'm sorry, Canada. I didn't know the guy, but as your neighbor, I feel like bringing you some lasagna or something.

Thanks desjardins. He was a great Canadian who worked hard to make Canada a better place, regardless if you agreed with his politics or not.

RIP Mr. Layton. You've left big shoes to fill.
posted by braemar at 7:18 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by Mitheral at 7:19 AM on August 22, 2011


this is incredibly sad.

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thank you for your hard work, Jack. you will be missed by many.
posted by gursky at 7:20 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by jpziller at 7:22 AM on August 22, 2011


One of Jack's favourite quotes, from Tommy Douglas:

"Courage, my friends; 'tis not too late to build a better world."
posted by aclevername at 7:22 AM on August 22, 2011 [13 favorites]


This is terrible news for the country. Now was the time when we needed him most.

I felt like he was maybe the one person who could make the political climate in this country better, or at least, prevent it from getting any worse. That's what makes this a loss for all Canadians, but of course, it must be worst for his family and friends.

RIP, Jack.
posted by FishBike at 7:23 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


What a shock. I thought he'd beat that cancer into submission and come back to work.

Jack Layton was almost universally liked and respected, which is rare for a politician. Even my Conservative-voting family thought highly of him. I don't recall ever speaking with anyone who disparaged him.

Go in peace, Jack, though we are so much the poorer for your departure.
posted by orange swan at 7:23 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by fimbulvetr at 7:24 AM on August 22, 2011


Btw, for any Americans trying to understand the magnitude of this...imagine the speaker of the house (being from the opposite party of that which holds the white house...otherwise its more like the minority leader) dying two months after being elected to the position. For further emphasis, imagine the speaker being the leader of a third party that had been trying for six decades to gain a position of prominence and had finally broken the Republican/Democrat stranglehold.

Not perfectly apples to apples, but close.
posted by dry white toast at 7:25 AM on August 22, 2011 [13 favorites]


This is a horrible day. I'm not a member of Jack's party, but his willingness to take people seriously even when they are young or not rich or well-connected has been really inspiring to me. I have written him a number of letters on various issues over the years, and have always got smart and humane responses from his office. He'll be missed terribly.

I am really glad for this thread. I work from home and my SO is out all day today, and it sucks so much to be shaken and sad by yourself, but it is not just me here. Thanks mefites.
posted by bewilderbeast at 7:28 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess if it's personal anecdote time...

I was a protocol officer for a while in the mid 2000's. It was our job to run around behind the scenes at big events like Canada Day and the like, ensuring all went smoothly and according to plan.

I got the job one time of seating Jack Layton. He was impossible to keep walking in a straight line. Where other politicians followed the protocol officers straight to their seats, Jack veered off in every direction possible to shake hands and speak to people. It took me 20 minutes to get him 20 yards. In the end, I gestured in the general direction of his chair, and left him to it.
At the time, I was annoyed with him, because he'd made my job just a bit harder that day. But looking back, he was the one who was engaged with everyone around him. The other politicians only talked to certain people in high ranking positions. Jack talked to everybody.

(and it was funny to see teeny-tiny Jack standing next to the Archbishop of Ottawa, who stood at least 6 foot seven in his mitre.)
posted by LN at 7:28 AM on August 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


Thank you, Jack. Thank you for everything.
posted by criacow at 7:28 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I only got to meet the man a few times and shake his hand. I was always amazed by his small stature in person as he had such a commanding presence at the lectern.

RIP Jack. You will be sorely missed. The NDP has lost a charismatic leader and the country has lost a passionate and honest politician. You have left very large shoes to fill.

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posted by purephase at 7:29 AM on August 22, 2011


God, what shitty news to wake up to. I can't say anything yet.

Libby Davies, who I am proud to call my MP, posted in her Twitter feed "I can't bear it". I don't think I can either.
posted by jokeefe at 7:29 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by hydrobatidae at 7:30 AM on August 22, 2011


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posted by arcticwoman at 7:42 AM on August 22, 2011


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A great loss; I honestly don't know where the NDP goes from here.

As a measure of how deep this goes, I heard the news this morning on the local sports radio channel. They aren't among the usual sources for breaking news like this...
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:43 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by synecdoche at 7:43 AM on August 22, 2011


Statement (via Vancouver Sun) from Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

"When I last spoke with Jack following his announcement in July, I wished him well and he told me he'd be seeing me in the House of Commons in the Fall.

"This, sadly, will no longer come to pass.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I salute Jack’s contribution to public life, a contribution that will be sorely missed.

"I know one thing: Jack gave his fight against cancer everything he had. Indeed, Jack never backed down from any fight.

"To his wife Olivia, his family, and to his colleagues and friends, Laureen and I offer our heartfelt condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this most difficult time."
posted by dry white toast at 7:44 AM on August 22, 2011


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(Dear Canadian Friends: I hope it's not tacky to do this in an obit thread, but I am so moved and impressed by your reminiscences of Jack Layton, your stories about him, your discussions of his life in politics, your willingness to explain just what made him so singular, and your reporting of the reactions of your fellow Canadians. Even in your moment of grief, you are still holding it together enough to share with the rest of us. I think you're awesome. And I want to bring you a lasagne, too. Or butter tarts, if you have enough lasagne already.)
posted by bakerina at 7:45 AM on August 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


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Impromptu memorial happening at Parliament Hill at noon.
posted by Theta States at 7:47 AM on August 22, 2011


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A terrible loss for Canada.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:47 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had the privilege of having Jack Layton literally show up at the front door of my apartment last year during Toronto's municipal elections. I live in Toronto-Danforth - his riding - and Jack was going door-to-door in support of city council candidate Mary Fragedakis (who won). He enjoyed meeting people - I know this first-hand - and he genuinely seemed willing to listen.

He will be greatly missed. This is a sad day.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 7:48 AM on August 22, 2011


bakerina, as someone who's hit pretty hard by this, I don't think it's tacky at all. I feel the same way hearing the stories, and at least to me the thread is a good catharsis that doesn't involve breaking down.

Butter tarts are good. Poutine would be pretty awesome as well, Layton has a strong Quebec history as well!

posted by Lemurrhea at 7:50 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the non-Canadians reading, Jack's wife, Olivia Chow, is a Member of Parliament also. They had been on Toronto city council together for years, and both went into federal politics. Oh, and now Jack's son Mike is on Toronto council. So we all feel like we really this family, too.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:54 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had no idea I would be hit so hard by this. The one thing I'm grateful of is the Metafilter community to talk to and grieve with. I'll be refreshing this page all day, and I thank all of you for your comments and reminiscences.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:55 AM on August 22, 2011


The only leader I have ever voted for, the only leader I know of anywhere that is not in the pocket of business, the only leader I know of that is actually, truly, in it for the best interest of the people, whether they vote for him or not, the only leader I know of who actually had a shot at slowing the inexorable slide towards the corporate state.

Who will try to hold back the tides now that Jack is gone?
posted by Cosine at 7:56 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was very blah-diddy-blah that there was too much of a personality cult being built around Jack Layton but this morning is the first time I've every felt weepy over the death of a public figure. He seemed like a really decent guy.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:58 AM on August 22, 2011


Maybe Jack's biggest legacy won't be his own contributions, but how he inspired us to do for ourselves what he can no longer do for us.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:59 AM on August 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


Layton, by all accounts, brought to the NDP something they'd never had before, that only Harper and his Conservatives now have, and that the Liberals were notoriously missing in the last federal election: organization, which is to say "machine building". He was tireless at reconstructing the federal NDP to win elections: by building phone lists, by effective campaigning, by targeted campaigning, and by clear headed analysis of the sometimes perverse electoral mechanisms of Canada. The way he gutted the BQ in Quebec was brilliant.

You can't make changes if you don't win. Jack got that. He understood that the backbone of a party was its organization, and spent the last seven years working on the NDP's spine. The last election was a demonstration of how effective that strategy has been, and my great fear is that the NDP doesn't have anyone to stop into those shoes.
posted by fatbird at 7:59 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


My first thought was "Well, Canada's fucked." Jack was one of precious few beacons in the dire wasteland that is the left wing in this country, and without the passion, charisma and humanity he brought to the good fight, I truly don't know where we're going to go from here.

But he would have wanted me to have hope, so. For him, I'll have hope.

RIP.
posted by Zozo at 8:01 AM on August 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


Awful stuff, felt like a punch in the stomach when I saw the news this morning, although I knew it didn't look good for him. My husband and myself, one Euro immigrant and one South Asian immigrant, were pretty excited to become Canuck citizens this year in time to vote for his party in the federal election and were delighted to see his bus at the end of our road one tuesday evening during the campaign - he petted our dog, she didn't like him much, but what do golden retrievers know. RIP Jack.
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:03 AM on August 22, 2011


The only politician I've voted for rather than against, and my MP for the past four years. Dammit, Jack, we needed you.

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posted by Schlimmbesserung at 8:04 AM on August 22, 2011


The greatest prime minister we never had.
posted by Kurichina at 8:04 AM on August 22, 2011 [32 favorites]


I am shocked and devastated by this news. Jack Layton was the person who got me voting NDP. Heck, Jack Layton is the person who got me seriously interested in Canadian politics, who gave me hope for Canada's future, whose "We can make Canada a better place, together" attitude made me believe anything was possible.

Dammit Jack, you left us too soon.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:05 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


DistractionFromGriefDerail: Have we ever had a Leader of the Opposition who died in office? Looking at teh wiki, I can't seem to ferret one out. As far as Prime Ministers go, I think we're going back to Sir John Thompson, 1894.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:14 AM on August 22, 2011


I'm so glad now that I marched with Jack and the NDP in the Toronto Pride parade this year. I had met him several times over the years - once while stuffing envelopes at his kitchen table - and one of my good friends has worked closely with Olivia on her recent election campaigns. It always made me angry when people dismissed him as a 'used car salesman' or 'typical politician'. I always found him very down to earth and genuine, and my heart broke a little when I read the news this morning. Our political landscape is more bleak today.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:15 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The last tweet on Jack Layton's Twitter, from July 25: "Your support and well wishes are so appreciated. Thank you. I will fight this – and beat it."

I have never voted for the NDP and yet have always had the utmost respect and admiration for Jack Layton and his politics. This is a sad day, and I mourn his family's - and Canada's - loss. Yet, it is heartening for me to see people from all across the political spectrum speaking out (particularly youth, which the NDP have been good at engaging with) about their experiences with and fondness for Jack Layton, and it gives me hope that there are enough people in this country committed to hopeful, helpful politics and policies that perhaps Canada isn't in as dire straits as I had thought. I don't remember an NDP without Jack, and hope that I will always remember his good work.
posted by hepta at 8:16 AM on August 22, 2011


Hard to see this one happen. I've met Jack a few times, he had good relationships with people in my circle of friends and while I don't know if he would remember me... I knew him well enough that I've drank pints with him.

Last time I saw him was around february, in a backroom at a political event that had just finished. We shook hands, and chatted a bit while I waited for my friends. He said he was sorry that he had to step out, but he had to make a journey from Moose Jaw, SK to Prince Albert, SK.

I felt a bit sorry for him, because as much as I like MJ and PA it was an exceptionally cold night (one of those ones where exposed skin freezes in under 30 seconds), the road were terrible, it was dark, and this is a long journey by car. Nobody would have blamed Jack if he were to have found a good meal, and a nice hotel. Jack didn't accept my pity - he was actually fired up about the trip.

Jack as a the good, kind, gentleman fighter was as good in-person, and behind the scenes as he seemed to be on television. Huge loss for Canada.
posted by Intrepid at 8:16 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Laurier died as Opposition Leader, in 1919. It's been a while, then.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:18 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


one of precious few beacons in the dire wasteland that is the left wing in this country

I think we might see that he made this untrue.

Watching political tributes to him on TV is odd, odd, odd. He's not getting the usual boilerplate from his enemies. Bob Rae, current leader of the Liberals grieved. Rae was a provincial premier for the NDP who defected to the Liberals. Rae talked about how he was shunned by his old NDP friends and allies, and his voice cracked a little as he said that Jack was the only one who still treated him like a friend.

Thank you. I will fight this – and beat it.

Well shoot, if you had to start breaking election promises, why start with this?

.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:21 AM on August 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


.

Our country is poorer for having lost him, but we've been lucky to have him for as long as we did.
posted by dnesan at 8:21 AM on August 22, 2011


.
That's the thing about Jack, everyone calls him by his first name. Maybe its because I live in Trinity-Spadina, but he always made his politics feel local, like the rest of the issues facing distant parts of Canada were just a community away. The NDP of today has a very different vibe than the us vs them and divide and conquer tactics of the other political parties.
posted by captaincrouton at 8:27 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, so sad and shocking. RIP Jack.
posted by pised at 8:29 AM on August 22, 2011


RIP, Jack Layton. You will not be forgotten.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 8:31 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was really too soon. Whether you agreed with his politics or not - and I mostly did - his leadership and revitalization of the party was stunning. Parliament will be completely different this fall and that's largely due to Layton. RIP.
posted by GuyZero at 8:32 AM on August 22, 2011


50,000 people attended Laurier's funeral in Ottawa. One of the first public events in Canada to be recorded on film, apparently (pic here). Which really means that it's been a while.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:32 AM on August 22, 2011


I'm reminded of the utter numbness when I heard the news of John Smith's death.

RIP, Jack.
posted by holgate at 8:32 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


My deepest condolences. I'm sending you all a hug, and since you seem to have lasagna and butter tarts, a bottle of whisky to wash it all down. I hope some day that we to the south of you will be privileged enough to have had a political leader worthy of mourning this way.

.
posted by rtha at 8:39 AM on August 22, 2011


Happy Jack Layton is Happy! This made me tear up (again), then smile.
posted by avocet at 8:42 AM on August 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


.
posted by xekul at 8:42 AM on August 22, 2011


rtha, as a fellow American (married to a Canadian), I was just thinking the same thing. We don't have a political leader back home whose passing would be mourned amongst all spectrums.
posted by Kitteh at 8:42 AM on August 22, 2011


Laurier's funeral was indeed a State Funeral, held at the old Museum of Civilization building, but whether a State Funeral was afforded to him as a Leader of the Opposition or (more likely, I'm guessing) as a former Prime Minister, I can't seem to find out. Another pic here. I'll stop now.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:43 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Flashman at 8:44 AM on August 22, 2011


.

For those of you who unfamiliar with Canada's politics, Jack Layton is the guy who was in charge of keeping the Canada we've all come to know and love, as opposed to the US under George W. Bush. He was a politician you could trust to fight for you.

Formally, as the leader of the Official Opposition, he was the most powerful politician outside the government. Less formally, he was Jack, a crusader for the everyman, the most honest moustache in politics. He took the perpetual 3rd place New Democratic Party from 13 seats to 103 in a little over a decade.

At this point in our history, the Conservative party is a political machine built for the purpose of winning elections and then dismantling the government. Meanwhile, the left wing is comprised of multiple parties, squabbling amongst each other, and rudderless. (The other main opposition party, the Liberals, are currently between leaders as well.) The NDP gained its' strength in a stunning sweep in Quebec, fuelled largely by Jack's own hard work and charisma. As a result, the opposition to one of the most cynical governments in the country's history is the youngest, most inexperienced party -- including five current university students. I feel pretty certain that Montrealers weren't voting for a 20 year old Cultural Studies major, they were voting for Jack.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:45 AM on August 22, 2011 [14 favorites]


I remember seeing Jack Layton standing on a tiny pedestal (I'm talking milk crates and plywood) in a corner of parc Jeanne-Mance motivating two dozen party loyalists in the summer of 2007 before Thomas Mulcair was elected. I remember shouting "I love you Jack!" as we walked by in the grass, who knew how much the political landscape would change in just 4 short years. I still love you.

.
posted by furtive at 8:47 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


.

As mentioned, one of the few bright beacons on the dismal political landscape in Canada these days.
posted by bumpkin at 8:48 AM on August 22, 2011


We don't have a political leader back home whose passing would be mourned amongst all spectrums.

There is much less party loyalty and polarization in Canada — it's just a different voter culture altogether from the States. I have voted NDP, Liberal and Conservative (though in decreasing order of frequency and I think I've only voted Tory once). Canadians tend to vote according to how they feel about the current party leader rather than on party lines. My grandmother Swan (1905-1993) used to vote Conservative religiously and disparage the other parties, but this was a very old-fashioned view of politics that has largely evaporated. Though you can still run a bale of hay in Saskatchewan and get it elected as long as it's the Tory candidate, sigh.
posted by orange swan at 8:55 AM on August 22, 2011


Thanks for the digging Capt. Renault. As for a State Funeral, Jack was a member of the Privy Council, an officer of the government of Canada, so I can see a case for one, but the Opposition leader is more akin to a Cabinet minister, so likely not. Perhaps a judgement call by the PM and the Governor-General?
posted by dry white toast at 8:55 AM on August 22, 2011


I am really sad about this, and as I'm living in England I feel totally unable to explain why this mattered so much to the people around me. Such a loss for the whole country.
posted by SoftRain at 9:01 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am really quite left, but could never bring myself to vote for the NDP, for a variety of reasons--it was mostly fringe parties, or the greens, which really is the largest of the fringe parties. I voted for the ndp for the first time this year, because of the efficacy of Layton. He was kind, and he was smart, and he liked people and all of that--but I sensed that he was so fucking good at getting the party on track, that he was a politician who knew what he had to do to get him and his party elected. He was masterful at that.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:01 AM on August 22, 2011


.
posted by Chichibio at 9:05 AM on August 22, 2011


The Toronto Star's editorial on his death reminded me of what, in time, may come to be his most significant achievement in federal politics: removing Quebec sovereignty from the federal political equation by supplanting the Bloc Quebecois. Something that none of Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, and Stephen Harper could not accomplish in 18 years of trying.
posted by dry white toast at 9:08 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


ack...make that 'something that none of Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, and Stephen Harper could accomplish in 18 years of trying.
posted by dry white toast at 9:09 AM on August 22, 2011


American here. I only became aware of him at the last election, and couldn't help but be impressed by what a good, sensible person he seemed, especially for a politician. You have my sympathies, Canada.

.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:11 AM on August 22, 2011


For sale: big shoes.
posted by No Robots at 9:13 AM on August 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


Regarding a state funeral, there are guidelines as to who gets one and who doesn't. Sitting or past Prime Minister, current or past Governor General, etc. Protocol will advise PMO based on precedence, but ultimately, the decision rests in PMO whether to give him one or not. Let's hope that the outpouring of feeling from Canadians will be enough to sway the decision in favour of.
posted by LN at 9:17 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weird, obscure and mostly inside joke: Damn, I thought his moustache would keep him going and beat the cancer.

Serious comment: This is just very sad; Layton was one of the few federal politicians I truly respected, even when I didn't always agree with him. I vote NDP in the most recent election mostly because of Jack (though, I do think that my local candidate would have done an excellent job if he'd been elected).
posted by asnider at 9:22 AM on August 22, 2011


.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:23 AM on August 22, 2011


...the decision rests in PMO whether to give him one or not.

I guess it depends on how nice a guy Stephen Harper is. Er...

Seems that the old Museum of Civilization hosted Laurier's funeral by reason of its being the temporary Parliament following the Centre Block fire of 1916. (I'll seriously stop now.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:25 AM on August 22, 2011


Capt. Renault - no need to stop. It's an interesting and relevant sidenote,
posted by arcticwoman at 9:28 AM on August 22, 2011


I have almost no respect for political 'leaders' these days. I had respect for Jack Layton. Voting NDP wasn't just voting for Jack, but for the party he built and the ideals he promoted, and the fact that the party seemed to actual want to live up to those ideals.

We're so fucked now.
posted by sandraregina at 9:31 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jack's letter to the country (can't find a stable link):

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don't be discouraged that my own journey hasn't gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we've done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let's continue to move forward. Let's demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election. 2
To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada's Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. 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 finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one - a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world's environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don't let them tell you it can't be done.
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.

All my very best,
Jack Layton
posted by avocet at 9:32 AM on August 22, 2011 [88 favorites]


I guess it depends on how nice a guy Stephen Harper is. Er...

No, it depends on whether he feels that the media circus that will inevitably accompany such a large-scale and highly visible event will benefit him and his party in some way.

Sorry, working in protocol, you grow really big cynicism glands.
posted by LN at 9:34 AM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


They just read the letter on CBC News. Might be the most patriotic thing I've ever heard. So much for not crying at work.
posted by dry white toast at 9:35 AM on August 22, 2011


link to the PDF
posted by avocet at 9:37 AM on August 22, 2011


.
posted by ageispolis at 9:37 AM on August 22, 2011


A link to Jack's letter. (pdf)
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:38 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have something in my eye.
posted by Kitteh at 9:39 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that letter broke me. Tearing up now.
posted by hepta at 9:40 AM on August 22, 2011


I can't deal with the sweetness in that letter. :(
posted by bewilderbeast at 9:40 AM on August 22, 2011


Yeah, it broke me too. Can't hold back the tears now.
posted by aclevername at 9:40 AM on August 22, 2011


;_;
posted by LN at 9:41 AM on August 22, 2011


I hade the huge privilege to meet Jack Layton at Adam Vaughan and Suhannah Meharchand's wedding back in, oh, 1997 and he spent a good 20 minutes talking to me even though I wasn't even a citizen yet and couldn't vote for him (or anyone) for Toronto city council. Still he made me feel like I mattered and he was incredibly genuine. Seeing him rise to Stornaway was a beautiful thing even if I didn't vote NDP. The world is now a little worse off. Goodbye, you gorgeous human being.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:43 AM on August 22, 2011


.
posted by Tiresias at 9:45 AM on August 22, 2011


We're so fucked now.

Not to call anyone out personally, but I don't don't see things this way. Sure, politics will be harder without him. I'm certain that some backroom boys on Bay Street are smoking cigars this afternoon. The future is uncertain and bad things may happen.

However, Jack has given us a change, a chance, that comes only once in a generation. He changed politics in Ottawa, at least for the moment. It's our job now to make certain that his legacy of change and progress isn't fleeting. That's the best way I can think to remember the man.

Hope and optimism.
posted by bonehead at 9:47 AM on August 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


[ tears ]
posted by seawallrunner at 9:47 AM on August 22, 2011


.
posted by dougzilla at 9:49 AM on August 22, 2011


We'll mourn by improving the country. We'll grieve by restoring our dignity.

This a thousand times over. Thank you Jack.
A remarkable letter from a remarkable man.
posted by pixlboi at 9:49 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


.

It is sad to see such a man go.

RIP Jack, thank you for your service.
posted by dr. moot at 9:50 AM on August 22, 2011


.
posted by Bartonius at 9:52 AM on August 22, 2011


If anyone's interested, check out the Parliament Hill cam. You can see that there's a small crowd on the hill. Apparently people are leave flowers at the centennial flame (much as they did for Trudeau) and the flag is finally at half mast.
posted by aclevername at 10:01 AM on August 22, 2011


He broke through a real barrier for the NDP, helped dismantle the Bloc, humbled the Grits, put the Tories on notice, got a lot of fresh young blood into politics, and actually showed non-choreographed human emotion in this election.

He went with a roar...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 10:02 AM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that letter broke me. Tearing up now.

Me too. Oh hell.

Don't mourn: organize! But I do need to mourn, for a little bit.
posted by jokeefe at 10:02 AM on August 22, 2011


I just got a facebook message from a friend who is a staunch Conservative, of the Nelson Muntz school of political discourse. Even he's paying tribute to Layton today.
posted by LN at 10:03 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just got back from Parliament Hill. Very somber mood around the Eternal Flame. Lots of people just stopping by for a few minutes, some dropping flowers.
Lots of media trying to get soundbites.
posted by Theta States at 10:05 AM on August 22, 2011


No, it depends on whether he feels that the media circus that will inevitably accompany such a large-scale and highly visible event will benefit him and his party in some way.

Oh, absolutely. Give them some time to do some insta-polling, chat up the family into allowing themselves to be put on such a stage, and it's a rich opportunity for Harper. He gets to be all Prime Ministerial during a moment of national grief, and at the same time make a subtle point about outlasting his adversaries, being magnanimous towards his lesser opponents, and emphasize that an already-weak Prime Ministerial field is just that much weaker. Not to mention that he can tap into a larger pool of grief and anger towards cancer itself, which has touched so many lives of Canadians. So, whether those political considerations are enough to overcome Harper's personal feelings towards the man and his politics, that's the question. (Wait -- what am I talking about? "Harper's feelings"?)

posted by Capt. Renault at 10:11 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


.

Jack Layton is the first person to die that I've felt the need to post on Metafilter about. I never met him, and only saw him in person once, but seeing him in person was enough to get me to vote for the NDP in the next election instead of trying to vote strategically.

I was at the pride parade in Toronto a couple of years back, went with some people I'd met on twitter, didn't work out so well. However I did wind up watching the parade beside an elderly gay couple who'd brought a massive cooler of water to spray people down with. We had a lot of fun, and near the end of the parade the NDP had a float. Jack was the only federal party leader there. I sprayed him with the supersoaker they lent me, in his nice suit and everything. He didn't look pissed off or anything, he just pulled the giant pride flag beside him over to shield himself and smiled.
I voted for him (well, the local NDP candidate) in the next (most recent) election.

I'm glad he got to see the NDP do so well in the last election, even if they didn't manage to stop a majority. Hopefully being opposition in a majority will give them time to build some experience before the next election.
posted by Canageek at 10:14 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


.
posted by axismundi at 10:15 AM on August 22, 2011


I lost it at Dear Friends.

Of all the hundreds of times I've read that phrase, this is the only one in which I believe it has been used genuinely.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:16 AM on August 22, 2011


I just got a facebook message from a friend who is a staunch Conservative, of the Nelson Muntz school of political discourse. Even he's paying tribute to Layton today.

I've seen a few posts by law school crew on facebook about this, by people who are strong Harperites, work for the Young Conservatives or whatever it's called - to a person they're honouring him.

And yeah, I think that the political calculus will point Harper towards a state funeral. I'm ok with it - we all know it would come down to the politics, but the outcome is good. Harper has nothing to lose by it, and everything to lose by rejecting it and looking spiteful and petty.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:18 AM on August 22, 2011


> I'm reminded of the utter numbness when I heard the news of John Smith's death.

I was just thinking the same, and Donald Dewar too, to a certain extent.
posted by scruss at 10:18 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


.
posted by waterunderground at 10:20 AM on August 22, 2011


But I do need to mourn, for a little bit.

I shall lay me down and bleed a while, then rise and fight again.--T.C. Douglas.

It's our job now to make certain that his legacy of change and progress isn't fleeting.

After Alberta NDP leader Grant Notley perished in a plane crash in 1984, his party went on to win a record 16 seats in the next provincial election. Just sayin'.
posted by No Robots at 10:22 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


On state funeral: Hell, as someone else pointed out, Layton took the Quebec separation issue out of the last elections and ushered in a new era in Quebec politics. That itself is state worthy.

.
posted by tksh at 10:23 AM on August 22, 2011


On another note: CBC has mirrored his last letter at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/08/22/pol-layton-last-letter.html

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

I'm very impressed that the first thing in the letter that wasn't official business, was a letter to other people fighting cancer. Nothing political, nothing trite, a legitimate letter telling other people not to give up hope.

I can't remember a time when he hasn't been a major political figure: I'm in my early 20s now, grew up with Air Farce and such on, since my Mom works at CBC, and as everyone else has come and gone, he has always been there. This is the first time I've felt any real emotion at someone I personally know passing on. Hope there is something on the other side for you Jack, and that it is pretty awesome.
posted by Canageek at 10:23 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Capt. Renault, those will certainly become considerations, but it could just as easily get away from him. Putting himself up for comparison with someone who lost a battle to cancer doesn't exactly speak volumes about him "winning" over his adversaries, does it?

If he's smart, he'll agree to the State Funeral, and act respectful throughout.

However, I don't hold out hope. Some will argue that Jack ceded the leadership on an interim basis so that he could fight the cancer, that he was not technically leader of the opposition when he passed away, and therefore does not warrant a state funeral.

Jesus Christ, I hope I'm wrong.
posted by LN at 10:26 AM on August 22, 2011


The Globe's coverage of Quebec reactions. I just want to point out that in Quebec, his nickname was "Bon Jack".

Good Jack.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:35 AM on August 22, 2011


It would be wonderful to see an ocean of "Laytons" this Movember.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:39 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


No mention of any state funeral in Harper's adress (at least in the French part). He has now switched to English, but he seems to be just repeating the same in English.

What a difference in charisma and presence between these two men.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:41 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


And with the speech over, I cannot help but notice that were maybe five sentences of platitudes about Jack, and then moved briskly into the plane crash in Resolute Bay and Libya, then away he went with no questions.

At least he put the death of the Leader of the Opposition first on his list of bullet points. Classy!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:46 AM on August 22, 2011


CBC has some stuff up now: An Obituary and Jack Layton in Pictures.
posted by Canageek at 10:53 AM on August 22, 2011


Jack Layton was a wonderful person, and his tone in campaigning and dealing with his political opponents set a great example for all Canadian politicians to aspire to.

If he's smart, he'll agree to the State Funeral, and act respectful throughout.

State funerals in Canada aren't held for leaders of the opposition.
posted by Dasein at 10:57 AM on August 22, 2011


I've been an NDP voter my whole life until this last election where I just didn't like the NDP candidate in my riding. I never shared Jack's positive outlook and I often doubted how well his approach would lead to significant gains for the NDP.

Well Jack, you did it and I've never been so happy to have been proven wrong. That letter shows he was committed to Canada and Canadian politics right to the end. I'm glad he lived to see his life's work finally start to pay off.

.
posted by Hoopo at 11:05 AM on August 22, 2011


I'm against the idea of a state funeral for Jack. It's so not what he was about.
I'd prefer bunch of local vigils in towns and neighbourhoods throughout the nation, with a stipulation that nobody currently holding or seeking political office be allowed to speak for more than two minutes.
The actual funeral should be for his family and close friends.
posted by rocket88 at 11:08 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


.
posted by good in a vacuum at 11:09 AM on August 22, 2011


Dasein, see my earlier comment. PMO can pretty much do what it wants, regardless of protocol or precedent.
posted by LN at 11:11 AM on August 22, 2011


Yeah, I'm not too fond of the idea of a state funeral for Jack either. Too grand and pompous - he deserves something sincere, intimate, and grassroots.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:12 AM on August 22, 2011


The actual funeral should be for his family and close friends.

Terry Fox's funeral would seem to be a good model.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:13 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jack's funeral should be like that of Nikos Kazantzakis:
Everything went as planned—the tributes, the placing of flowers— until it came time to lower the coffin into the grave. Then a giant of a man, a veritable Zorba, stepped out of the crowd…Captain Mamousakas… his mustache was large, sweeping, ferocious…“Such a man as this,” he rumbled, “must be put into his grave by heroes.” So saying, he picked up the head of the coffin by himself. His three friends took hold of the other end. Together they lowered Nikos Kazantzakis into his personal abyss. (Frank Riley, “A Cross In Heraklion,” Saturday Review, October 14, 1967, pp. 47-48.)
With union guys.
posted by No Robots at 11:19 AM on August 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


.
posted by rmc at 11:22 AM on August 22, 2011


A couple of people have asked via e-mail about the above story, so here's the tea towel in question.
posted by Shepherd at 11:24 AM on August 22, 2011 [22 favorites]


In 2005, I went to see David Suzuki speak at Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto, where Jack Layton would be introducing him. Jack was in turn introduced by the chair of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

The front row of the seating was reserved for the VIPs and was empty when the audience filed in. I wound up sitting in the second row with some friends -- quite fortunate for us, in that near-capacity house.

Shortly before the speakers began, the VIPs filed out from backstage to their seating, and I found myself peering at the stage between Jack Layton, just ahead of me and to my left, and David Suzuki, just ahead of me and to my right.

As the TEA chair went up and spoke to introduce Layton, she showed the danger of relying on easy sound-bites: she said something along the lines of, "I hope you will join me in welcoming to the stage a good friend and the most committed environmentalist I know, the leader of the federal New Democratic Party, Jack Layton." You could see her panic after describing Layton as "the most committed environmentalist" she knew, when she realized that yes, David Suzuki was still in the room and looking up at her from the front row. There was a little ripple of nervous laughter from the audience. I don't know how many of them saw what I was in a position to, as Suzuki bowed his head slightly and gave it a comically disparaging shake.

Layton, for hispart, made a graceful save. Bounding up on stage, he thanke the TEA chair and said whike he was flattered to be described as a great environmentalist, we all knew that Suzuki had been recognized as one of the Greatest Canadians.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:38 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


People are meeting at Nathan Phillips, ca 4 pm.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:40 AM on August 22, 2011


and the flag is finally at half mast.

It should be lower.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:45 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by AmandaA at 11:59 AM on August 22, 2011


A man of the people. Everything he did, he did for US.
posted by Mai_Sharona at 12:01 PM on August 22, 2011


>State funerals in Canada aren't held for leaders of the opposition.

>PMO can pretty much do what it wants, regardless of protocol or precedent.


I'm curious to know if Robert Bourassa's state funeral was authorized by the PMO, or if it was done by the government of Quebec. His name certainly isn't on that list on teh wiki, but it most definitely was a state funeral. The fleur de lis only, and no maple leaf anywhere, but definitely a state funeral.

Could it be a 'state' funeral if it was a function of the province? Would the attendance of the GG and PM validate the province's claim to hold them? That claim would have been further validated by the GG's and PM's attendance at the 'provincial state funeral' of Maurice Richard.

A discussion on obscure points of protocol, for another time. I mean only to second the idea that there aren't hard and fast rules for these things.


posted by Capt. Renault at 12:10 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by juv3nal at 12:19 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:24 PM on August 22, 2011


I've performed at Rideau Hall a number of times and have often nervously waited downstairs in the lower level before being called up to the ballroom. Twice Jack Layton was down there hanging out in the hallway and we'd have a quick chat. He was very charismatic and gentlemanly and really made an impression on me. The second time he remembered us and I got to tell him that I voted for him.

He was a really down-to-earth guy.
posted by KathyK at 12:31 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 12:45 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by mek at 12:53 PM on August 22, 2011


Thanks avocet, those photos are really lovely. This one especially
posted by beau jackson at 12:53 PM on August 22, 2011


Dammit. We BC-types tend to look at any Back East politicians as mustache-twirling train-track loitering bastards but this fellow grew on me eventually. Goodbye Jack.
posted by moneyjane at 12:54 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by dripdripdrop at 12:56 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by zarq at 12:57 PM on August 22, 2011


We BC-types tend to look at any Back East politicians as mustache-twirling train-track loitering bastards but this fellow grew on me eventually.

Wasn't Snidely Whiplash from the Yukon?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:00 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by gingerbeer at 1:05 PM on August 22, 2011


We'll miss you Jack! Thanks for all your work on making sure no Canadians are left behind...

.
posted by MelanieL at 1:11 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jack Layton's words in poster form
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:12 PM on August 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


I personally didn't really see him as leadership material (whatever that means..) when he first ran, but he grew into the role.

About as good as a politician can be. We still need him.
posted by Chuckles at 1:25 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:30 PM on August 22, 2011


Jack was a lovely, decent, and inspiring man. He'll be sadly missed.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:46 PM on August 22, 2011


Here's Jack and Olivia's sweet love story, as reported by the Toronto Star in 1999.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:59 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


great Jack quote:

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.
posted by batboy at 2:04 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's good to remember that there are still some honorable people left in politics.
posted by Sassenach at 2:11 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by dipping_sauce at 2:15 PM on August 22, 2011


My sympathies go out to Jack's family and friends, just as they would to the loved ones of any other person who died in similar circumstances.

I'll admit that Layton's passing left a huge hole in the federal political system, and it will take the NDP a while to sort out the party. There are some really good, long-serving MPs in the NDP, and a couple of people I'd love to see challenge for the top (in the hopes of someday landing in 24 Sussex).

Now I don't have any particular political affiliation. I've voted for three (if not four) parties over my lifetime, but generally my politics swing more left than they do right.

All that said, Layton wasn't a saint. He wasn't flawless. He was a consummate politician who came from a family of politicians.

He admitted he went too far when blaming Paul Martin for killing homeless people. Remember the kerfuffle that cause? He took advantage -- for his own personal benefit -- of a system to provide non-profit housing for low income residents. That was actually quite a big story at the time.

So yes, I feel his passing, and I know that modern Canadian politics have undergone a drastic and dramatic change because of his death, but Jack was human, and therefore not perfect, and I don't think it does us any good if we pretend politicians are different from the rest of us.
posted by sardonyx at 2:16 PM on August 22, 2011


He took advantage -- for his own personal benefit -- of a system to provide non-profit housing for low income residents. That was actually quite a big story at the time.

Big story yes. Whole story? Maybe not:
Layton was cleared of any wrongdoing in this case, yet this damaging attempt to smear him successfully covered over more than merely the absence of any wrongdoing. I have lived in a mixed housing co-operative myself, and served on its board. I learned that, given the nature of the government subsidies that such entities receive, they require roughly one third of their tenants to pay full market value rent (with another third receiving shallow subsidy, and the final third receiving deep subsidy). The problem often is that once people's economic fortunes improve, they tend to leave the co-op that subsidized their housing in the past, and buy a home on the private market. By deciding to reside in a mixed-income housing cooperative when they did not qualify for government subsidy, and could easily afford a home of their own, Jack and Olivia were actually showing solidarity with the less fortunate people in their community, and contributing through their full market rent to its overall financial sustainability. To me, it is beyond cyncial that Layton's desire to practice what he preached concerning social solidarity and fairness in his own choice of personal housing could be spun to create a portrayal of yet another hypocritical politician bellying up to the public trough.
posted by mazola at 2:37 PM on August 22, 2011 [32 favorites]


I can't believe that "kerfuffle" got any traction. We lived in a co-op some years ago. A percentage of the units have to be rented out at market rates - I imagine $800 a month for 2 or 3-bdrm, 21 years ago, was a fair market rate. They're supposed to be mixed-income - they're not supposed to be for low-income-subsidized-housing only. Beyond that, co-ops require ongoing commitments of their residents such as serving on the board (which can be quite a time-and-energy suck), keeping the buildings and common areas in good repair, promoting community activities, etc.

Layton and Chow were not receiving any gov't assistance by living in the co-op, and according to Wikipedia were even paying extra that they were by no means required or ethically obligated to pay, just to support their co-op. Essentially they were paying what they'd pay to live in a similar apartment that wasn't part of a co-op, *plus* they were doing community service to the co-op as part of their contract to live there.

The man was no saint, for sure, and I have my own ambivalent feelings about certain things he's done and said, but on that matter I cannot see where he did anything wrong. It was a smear campaign pure and simple, playing off the general public's misunderstanding of how co-ops work.
posted by flex at 2:49 PM on August 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


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posted by philip-random at 2:52 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by Beardman at 2:52 PM on August 22, 2011


In the "Layton was no saint" vein, I lost a great deal of respect for him back in 2008 when he fought against including Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, in the Leaders' Debate during the election. Pressure from his party and from others ended up with her entering the debate.

To his credit, though, he supported her in the 2011 election*, admitted that he was wrong and called for a more open policy.

*Although she didn't get in this time, not having a Green MP in Parliament. Next election the Greens are definitely in, though!
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:00 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by canadia at 3:07 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:13 PM on August 22, 2011


I just want to point out that in Quebec, his nickname was "Bon Jack".

Un bon Jack, is actually an expression meaning a really really good guy. It is more than just a good guy. It is a guy you could be friends with. A guy it would be good to have on your side, or in your corner. A guy who isn't out to screw you over. A guy you can trust and count on. A guy who is kind, gentle, caring, gracious, helpful ... basically he needs have multiple good qualities. A level of human love and respect is also usually involved. There are many good guys (des bon gars) but un bon jack is used less frequently as a description.

Thing is Layton epitomized the expression and his name just happened to be Jack ... so the play on a turn of phase was obvious ... and a slightly covert display of affection.

Bit of weirdness, I went to unfollow him on Twitter after I heard the news, because, well death and the typing ability thing, but I can't bring myself to click. Not yet anyway.
posted by phoque at 3:18 PM on August 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


I am so sad. Godspeed, Jack.
posted by emeiji at 3:21 PM on August 22, 2011


He will have a state funeral.

His politics were not my own, but it was clear to people of all political convictions that Jack Layton was a civil, honourable man passionately dedicated to the betterment of Canada. Our country is much the poorer for his absence.
posted by fhangler at 3:42 PM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


The mention of Elizabeth May reminded me that four months ago we were watching four leaders of national parties covered in the media every day (and May receiving a tiny amount of press). Now, barely a hundred days later, three of those four leaders are gone and one of the parties virtually extinguished, with at least one of the others in serious disarray. I wonder if other multi-party democracies see this much turbulence after an election where the ruling party did not even change.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:45 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was a smear campaign pure and simple, playing off the general public's misunderstanding of how co-ops work.

Absolutely. I live in a housing co-op as well, and this is how they are supposed to work-- the members create an economic mixture of those who can afford market rates and those who need subsidy for their housing charges. And a housing co-op becomes a community; I've been living in mine for over twenty years, know all my neighbours very well, many of whom have lived there just as long, and would be devastated to be forced to leave under such circumstances, accused of taking advantage of one of the best systems of urban housing in existence.
posted by jokeefe at 3:51 PM on August 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wasn't Snidely Whiplash from the Yukon?

Oh yes; they are dastardly in all directions but west. Here in the west we are led by gentle unicorns who personally tuck us in at night and then do our dishes.

/silliness.

We are indeed screwed without Mr Layton. sads.
posted by moneyjane at 3:54 PM on August 22, 2011


He was a real inspiration to watch and cared for the values so many Canadians hold at heart.

Requiescat in pace et in amore
posted by Meatafoecure at 4:17 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by Jughead at 4:20 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by Calzephyr at 4:51 PM on August 22, 2011


Devastated.

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posted by Hildegarde at 4:53 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by wowbobwow at 5:17 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by rux at 5:37 PM on August 22, 2011


I first saw Harper on TV (CSPAN?) in a debate. I see someone upthread mentioned 2003, so it looks like it was the 2005 debates? Anyways, I watched as this guy with a mustache starts saying shit that I agree with and was firm and strong and didn't pull punches. He didn't try to kowtow to the right, he stood up for the fucking principles and it sounded like he meant it. He didn't sound like just another US politician, or any of the guys from Canada on the stage that night.

I lamented the fact that we couldn't have a good honest debate in the US with someone like him.

RIP Jack, you were a true leader, and reading this thread really makes me smile to know that people who've interacted with you know you were the real deal.
posted by symbioid at 5:39 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


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A huge loss.
posted by variella at 6:03 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by lookoutbelow at 6:05 PM on August 22, 2011


Worth noting that Shepherd's story is already being passed around on Facebook as a fond remembrance; it just popped up on my wall. So congrats.

I only have one Jack story, and in hindsight it's a lot like everyone else's; when I was an intern working at the Kingston Whig-Standard, I got to go to an NDP BBQ north of the city and ask him (in a chat that, I kid you not, actually took place by a fireplace) just what he thought he could accomplish as NDP leader, given that he was so far from forming even the official opposition, let alone governing. Of course, he had a great answer; while acknowledging on the one hand that it would take a miracle for the NDP to win, he maintained that they had beliefs to uphold and policies to fight for. A few small victories here and there would eventually add up—maybe not this election, and maybe not the next, but in the years to come, and sooner than you'd think.

I was young; I didn't believe him, even though I decided I liked him. Six years later, he made a fool out of me, and a lot of people besides. If only he were still here to keep making fools of us all, and in the process improving our lives.
posted by chrominance at 6:30 PM on August 22, 2011


There is a terrific amount of support here for Jack Layton. That's good. But it is worth recalling one of the final messages Jack had for us.

"we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together."

This comment is near the end of his final letter to Canadians.

When the car goes in the ditch, the passengers have to get out and push. So, let's roll up our sleeves.
posted by dmayhood at 6:42 PM on August 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


.

I had no doubt, even when Mr. Layton stepped down to focus on his health, that in four years I would be making orange-and-white moustache stickers for the next federal election.

Tonight's episode of The Agenda had me crying in intervals.

Thank you/Merci, Jack. May others be inspired by your example.
posted by far from gormless at 6:44 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


.

Jack Layton made me feel hopeful about Canadian politics. And he has been doing that for years and years, way before he went federal. And you know what? I still feel hopeful. That letter he wrote was a genuine message from a genuine guy. That kind of thing gets through to people.
posted by aunt_winnifred at 6:47 PM on August 22, 2011


My girlfriend had the pleasure of guiding Jack down the Nahanni River in a canoe. Like everyone else, she came away thinking that he was just a great guy. She'll be as heartbroken by this news as I am, when she gets back from the tundra.
posted by klanawa at 6:49 PM on August 22, 2011


Oh my God, how can he be dead? He just stepped down a month ago.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:58 PM on August 22, 2011


We are indeed screwed without Mr Layton.

Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:01 PM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's kind of Jack to write to fellow cancer sufferers first.

I'll hope against long odds his funeral service goes through without the 'fight with cancer' cliché.
posted by anthill at 7:10 PM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


A self link to some photos I took on Parliament Hill today and tonight if anyone's interested. If this breaches guidelines, apologies, please delete.
posted by aclevername at 7:24 PM on August 22, 2011


I'm so glad that I made the wise decision to not read Jack's final letter until after work. It's hard to read through tears.
posted by asnider at 7:33 PM on August 22, 2011


He knew how to work a crowd (and a 12-string)
posted by scruss at 7:33 PM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


A loss for Canada. I remain hopeful that his successor can continue to build the NDP in the way he did, and continue to bring an optimistic and caring progressive voice to Ottawa.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:43 PM on August 22, 2011


In Toronto's Chinatown, where his Chinese-Canadian wife/fellow politician was often more well known, they called him Mr Chow. He lived around the corner when I lived in Chinatown. Sometimes we'd see Jack (Mr Chow!) or Olivia (The OC!) riding their bikes. Or, if we got lucky, see them together on a tandem bike they had. Never really had a chat with Jack but saw Olivia campaigning while I was locking up my bike and we ended up taking about their tandem bike instead of politics. I don't see her as party leadership material but want/need her to be a strong voice for my city in Ottawa. Jack represented me, never directly as my MP but as a voice for urban progressives who are, if anything, sorely underrepresented in a Parliament that is overdue for redrawing ridings or, hope beyond hope, electoral reform.

Jack was the most important politician from Toronto in I don't know how long. It's been 50 years since a PM's been from an Ontario riding and there's never been one from Toronto. I don't know if Toronto even had a leader of the opposition before Jack. George Brown might be the closest but was never officially Liberal leader. And, coincidentally, Jack and Olivia lived right around from George Brown house in Chinatown.
posted by thecjm at 7:45 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


A former journalist boss on FaceBook: "Last time I saw Jack he made fun of my George Costanza wallet."
posted by yellowbinder at 7:47 PM on August 22, 2011


Radio-Canada spent the first 25 minutes of le Telejournal on le bon Jack. The anglophone mayor of Hudson speaking in rough French about young Jack, a crowd of mourners gathered in Montreal singing 'Gens du Pays', Celine Galipeau referring to Quebec's 'divertissement d'amour'...

With more time spent on Jack in francophone Canada than in the considerable time spent on him in anglophone Canada, it's hard not to have the feeling that we've lost the best chance in 20 years for a rapprochement between the two solitudes.

What could have been. What should be.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:57 PM on August 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


His passing is deeply saddening. It is also troubling for Canadian politics, but I am tearfully trying to be optimistic and hopeful. Jack (and Oivia) were an inspiration to my younger self, and still are. I hope his accomplishments in the Canadian political spectrum are not taken for granted.

He will be greatly missed.
posted by mayurasana at 8:05 PM on August 22, 2011


It's been 50 years since a PM's been from an Ontario riding

I take your point, but this is not quite true: Mike Pearson was the MP for Algoma East when he stepped down in 1968. Before him, it was Wm. Lyon Mackenzie King in his final election, and before that we have to go back to Sir John A., if I am not mistaken, to find a PM representing an Ontario riding.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:18 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by joannemerriam at 8:18 PM on August 22, 2011


aclevername writes "A self link to some photos I took on Parliament Hill today and tonight if anyone's interested. If this breaches guidelines, apologies, please delete"

Self links in comments are fine; encouraged even. It's only self link posts that are verboten.
posted by Mitheral at 8:26 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by Sing Fool Sing at 8:43 PM on August 22, 2011


I'll hope against long odds his funeral service goes through without the 'fight with cancer' cliché.

Thanks for that link, anthill. Given that cancer killed Jack, or someone like my father, the language of 'fighting a battle' with cancer, or of 'winning' against cancer -- it suggests that people like them didn't want it enough, that it all was a simple test of will. If someone 'wins' against cancer, what does that imply of those cancer takes from us? Who could have had a stronger will or optimism than Jack?

If it were the case, that simply willing it could decide the matter, cancer would not be the indifferent menace it is.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:49 PM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been out of Canada so long and so disengaged from politics there that I have little direct emotional connection with Mr Layton himself, but this
And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one - a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world's environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don't let them tell you it can't be done.

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.
made me tear up, because it's what I still believe about Canada, even though I am so terribly afraid that Stephen Harper and his party and their ilk are bound and determined to take it away from us, even those of us who life has compelled to live away from their homes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:58 PM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ah yes, found them: Jack and Olivia on the Nahanni.
posted by klanawa at 9:05 PM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll hope against long odds his funeral service goes through without the 'fight with cancer' cliché.

A friend of mine claims that he has it written in his will etc that, should he die of cancer, his obit must read: "After a futile [relevant number] year battle with cancer ... "

Personally, I'd just be happy with a simple "After a losing battle with death."

But seriously ...
posted by philip-random at 9:18 PM on August 22, 2011


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posted by dbscissors at 9:30 PM on August 22, 2011


There's a facebook thing going around, of 'Leave Your Porch Light On For Jack'.

Supposed to end at midnight, but it's just gaining speed. So -- leave your porch light on for Jack (high-efficiency bulbs only).
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:38 PM on August 22, 2011


Hmm, we got the "put a candle in your window" meme first, so there are candles in nearly every window of my apartment right now: all north facing windows and one of the east. Godspeed Jack, and thank you.
posted by jokeefe at 10:13 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


My dad's from the same small town, went to the same high school (albeit 26 years earlier), not that he ever voted NDP. But he also never had anything bad to say about Jack Layton. He died almost four years ago now (my dad, that is) and we actually went there, Hudson, Quebec to spread some ashes. It was a cold fucking day, late December, wind cutting in from the river. My dad's brother, an old man himself, dropped a few ashes into the frozen snow and then said, "So long, brother. Hope you're warm down there." - pause - " But not too warm." We all cracked up.
posted by philip-random at 10:37 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


For those who share
the bounty of the land,

and those with justice
coiled in the spine,

we call to the ocean;
hear it echo back:

"I am a friend of
The Jack of Hearts."
posted by In The Annex at 11:01 PM on August 22, 2011


Oh no, oh no. Nonono. Gah. Maybe it's just the fact that I'm preparing for a trans-Atlantic move and the whole dismantling-your-home things has me emotionally unbalanced, but this is hitting me harder than I expected. I'm sad for his unfinished dreams and that he'll never reap the rewards of the work he's done so far. I'm heartsick for Olivia and all those close to him. I'm worried for Canada and what's left of its political landscape. I'm mad at cancer for reminding me that I live in a world where bad things happen to good people. I'm wary of the cheap political points others may attempt to score on this (from any party, really). I'm exasperated with Harper's inability to even make his condolences sound sincere. And I'm hopeful that Jack's true legacy will be a new generation of well-trained, ethical, sensible, and feisty politicians.

.

Don't mourn; organize.
posted by LMGM at 11:32 PM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jack showing Rick Mercer around his green home in Toronto. Somehow I never knew he spoke Cantonese, but hearing him speak with his MIL just makes me happy.
posted by mayurasana at 6:23 AM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I too am not a fan of the whole "losing the battle" with cancer language. Neither is Norm MacDonald.
posted by Go Banana at 6:43 AM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I went to the memorial vigil here in Montreal last night, and I was moved by the amount of emotion in the quite diverse crowd, especially among the younger folks and especially among the Francophones. Layton's ability to unite people around common needs and interests while celebrating diversity was amply illustrated. (I know that sounds clichéd - but, e.g., the man spoke excellent working-class French, which surely made a difference in Québec in conveying his engagement with the "common man", as opposed to say, Harper's "I've spent 1000 hours with my Rosetta Stone software" House of Commons question-period French, and Layton learned Cantonese well enough to talk with his mother-in-law...) My hope is that the base he brought together and energized this past spring can translate this emotion into further electoral success, without needing one man to carry the entire weight of the NDP. My fear is that too many people will buy into the Great Man theory of social change and make the dissolution of this momentum a self-fulfilling prophecy. It doesn't have to turn out that way.
posted by Philofacts at 7:29 AM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I'll hope against long odds his funeral service goes through without the 'fight with cancer' cliché.

Thanks for that link, anthill. Given that cancer killed Jack, or someone like my father, the language of 'fighting a battle' with cancer, or of 'winning' against cancer -- it suggests that people like them didn't want it enough, that it all was a simple test of will. If someone 'wins' against cancer, what does that imply of those cancer takes from us? Who could have had a stronger will or optimism than Jack?

If it were the case, that simply willing it could decide the matter, cancer would not be the indifferent menace it is."


Yes, indeed. I'm with you and Norm MacDonald. My dad died of a similarly fast-moving (and hard-to-diagnose) cancer last year (at age 80, not 61, but his forefathers tended to live into their late 80s or 90s, and he was in better shape all his life than they - didn't smoke, drink too much or overeat as they did), and despite the fact that he had been known all his life as a (metaphorical) fighter, and did not want to go "before his time" (whatever that means, really), towards the end it was just too overwhelming and he decided that it was better not to go through the agonies of chemo for the slim chance they offered, and we brought him home from the hospital for his last week. None of us thought he had lacked the will to fight. To anthropomorphize this, yes, indifferent disease as some kind of foe you can have a fair fight with is to insult its victims.

The CBC's Wendy Mesley did a documentary a few years back about her own "bout" with breast cancer. She fumed that she had done everything right in terms of lifestyle, and yet she'd still come down with it. She realized that there's subtle but clear blame-the-victim mentality at work when people come down with cancer, when actually the huge increase in chemical contamination of the environment, since WWII, by carcinogenic compounds, many of which hadn't existed before, was by far the more significant factor.
posted by Philofacts at 7:52 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bad and sad on so many levels. Goodbye, Jack.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:57 AM on August 23, 2011


Jack Layton will be getting a state funeral.

More importantly: In lieu of flowers, Jack Layton's family has asked that donations be made to the Broadbent Institute in memoriam.

More on the Boadbent Institute.

You can donate here.
posted by bonehead at 8:08 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was doing pretty okay this morning until I walked past the newsstands and saw that even the local fascist shitrag had an understated and respectful front page for Jack.

What a loss. What a tremendous, tremendous loss.
posted by Zozo at 8:14 AM on August 23, 2011


A panoramic shot of the impromptu memorial in Nathan Philips Square.

"Thanks, Jack, we've got it from here."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:23 AM on August 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Watching Harper on the news last night, standing behind the lectern, reading a prepared statement about how he and Jack talked about a jam session, and now that jam session will never happen...

Granted, not everyone is an extrovert, and not everyone's a public speaker, but -- what a contrast between the two men. Good lord.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:26 AM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:15 AM on August 23, 2011


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posted by joedan at 9:15 AM on August 23, 2011


A panoramic shot of the impromptu memorial in Nathan Philips Square.

Dammit, that got me going again. And my eyes had just dried.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:23 AM on August 23, 2011


I just wanted to mention what Jack Layton meant to me.

I worked for the federal Liberals last election, but voted NDP. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- I could have been voting for an MP I liked. But in my case, I voted for the party as well as the MP.

It caused me a little consternation. Like someone else said up thread, I've voted NDP, Liberal, Green and PC. But as I've aged I've found the NDP too reflexively heavy handed on economic issues (e.g. putting restrictions on newly graduated doctors) for my little-l liberal brain.

I genuinely think many and probably most MPs, even those noted bales of hay identified as conservative MPs are surprisingly engaged, interesting folks motivated by encouraging good societal outcomes. But even among that crowd Jack stood out for his dedication to public service, his energy, and his commitment to creating a better country.

The first time I heard Jack speak, I actually didn't like him. I thought he was a terrific speaker, but come off as too dogmatic, too with-us-or-against-us. But by the end of campaign I decided to vote for the guys I trusted most to serve most sincerely, and if they implemented policies I didn't like, to work to change them. 

I think what Jack did was return a little bit of political engagement to my soul (even though it strangely meant quitting a job working for a political party). I suspect I'm not alone. Even if Jack isn't able to make all the changes he wanted to with his own hands (although he sure made a lot), I think there are a lot of Canadians out there just a little bit more engaged than they were before who will do our best to make those changes happen. So thank you, Bon Jack.
posted by sock puppet to talk about jack at 10:02 AM on August 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


She fumed that she had done everything right in terms of lifestyle, and yet she'd still come down with it. She realized that there's subtle but clear blame-the-victim mentality at work when people come down with cancer

In my life, the only people who have suffered and/or died from cancer have all been the paramounts of health. Teatotallers. Physical trainers. Triathletes...
I grew up being told repeatedly that it was cigarettes and McDonald's that would predispose someone to cancer, and yet all of my loved ones who have been struck with it took part in neither...
Now I realize that those were just odds, roles of the dice, and cancer is truly blind to its victims.
posted by Theta States at 10:08 AM on August 23, 2011


Watching Harper on the news last night, standing behind the lectern, reading a prepared statement about how he and Jack talked about a jam session, and now that jam session will never happen...
Granted, not everyone is an extrovert, and not everyone's a public speaker, but -- what a contrast between the two men. Good lord.

If that was the best soundbite from Harper in regards to Layton's death, I shudder.
posted by Theta States at 10:09 AM on August 23, 2011


I dunno. Harper's wistfulness about the missed jam reminded me of Stipe on Cobain:
I’m a little bit angry at him for killing himself. He and I were going to record a trial run of the album, a demo tape. It was all set up. He had a plane ticket. He had a car picking him up. And at the last minute he called and said, 'I can't come.'
posted by No Robots at 10:56 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be something if the funeral attendees emerged from Roy Thomson Hall to see the crowd holding canes aloft as a symbol of the continuing fight?
To counter the Great Man theory?
To help us all feel like even if Obi-Wan is gone, we still have our lightsabers?
posted by Carrol Quigley Down Under at 11:07 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


.

Watching and listening to the coverage on the CBC brought tears to my eyes yesterday. "Le bon Jack" was a politician I could truly believe in, and I don't even live in Canada (well, not yet, anyway). He was always someone that I could look up to as a model of how to do public service and not be corrupted by the influences of money and power. Listening to folks who knew him reminisce about how ordinary—and extraordinary—he was reinforces that all the more.

The last lines of his farewell letter are going to be my e-mail sig from now on. What a wonderful way to sum up what we all should be doing! Thanks et un grand merci, Jack.
posted by kentk at 11:51 AM on August 23, 2011


kentk: The last lines of his farewell letter are going to be my e-mail sig from now on. What a wonderful way to sum up what we all should be doing!

I love that those last lines of his letter can be applied by anyone. Sure, Jack was a Canadian politician, but his efforts, compassion, optimism and energy for change are an example for anyone, anywhere.
posted by mayurasana at 12:32 PM on August 23, 2011


Carrol Quigley Down Under: To help us all feel like even if Obi-Wan is gone, we still have our lightsabers?

Hmmm... I do believe Jack (and Olivia) would want us to live long and prosper.

Make it so.
posted by hangashore at 3:34 PM on August 23, 2011


From Christie Blatchford at the National Post: Layton's death is a "public spectacle" created by news anchors putting on their "funeral faces" to milk the whole thing for ratings. Oh, and Jack Layton's post-death email was "vainglorious" and "full of sophistry."

I'm trying to come up with an appropriate counter-snark to this, but I'm at a loss. She has rather expertly managed to convince me that she's not entirely human.
posted by LMGM at 5:18 PM on August 23, 2011


Christie Blatchford is a professional contrarian. She literally gets paid to take the opposite view of what most people think and feel and write a column about it. I don't know how she can look at herself in the mirror sometimes.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:23 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, here is my favourite Jack and Olivia photo.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:26 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sometimes, I find it hard to decide which of Rosie DiManno or Christie Blatchford is the more hateful bitch.

Other times, it's not hard at all.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:52 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Shit. I just made the mistake of reading some of the comments on that thing that LMGM linked to -- I had no idea discourse had gotten that debased in Canada too.

I don't know or care who this Blatchford person is -- so much of what passes for journalism is compromised and co-opted, bought and paid for, regardless.

But the howling stupidity and partisan fury in the comments... it's discouraging.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:01 PM on August 23, 2011


Christie Blatchford is a professional contrarian. She literally gets paid to take the opposite view of what most people think and feel and write a column about it. I don't know how she can look at herself in the mirror sometimes.

I'm sure it helps that she doesn't have a reflection.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:07 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was saddened by Blatchford's article, but not too surprised. Rick Salutin's article in the Star was interesting and quite sincere.
posted by beau jackson at 6:30 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


> But the howling stupidity and partisan fury in the comments... it's discouraging.

Canada is currently doing its best to emulate the worst aspects of the United States. I don't get it either.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:18 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sometimes, I find it hard to decide which of Rosie DiManno or Christie Blatchford is the more hateful bitch.

At times like these, it is helpful to remember that Blatchford was a regular dinner guest of Lord and Lady Tubby Black, and despite her professed (so very earnestly professed) distaste for the man, makes it clear that were Barbara not in the room, she would do to Barbara what Barbara did to Joanna.

DiManno, on the other hand, simply trolls, which while repugnant, has a more certain moral clarity.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:24 PM on August 23, 2011


Blatchford and DiManno are both so awful that sometimes I think they (and Sue-Ann Levy) were given columns by sexist editors who want to ensure that people think all female op-ed writers are bitchy trolls.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:35 PM on August 23, 2011


Would it be disrespectful to begin discussing the future of the NDP without Jack, and possible successors?
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:40 PM on August 23, 2011


I'm just going to put this here, because it's kind of nice and made me smile. Jack Layton sings at the 2005 Gallery Dinner.
posted by MelanieL at 7:53 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


.



wait, that doesn't do it justice

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

what will canada do without you, jack
seriously
posted by tehloki at 10:19 PM on August 23, 2011


what will canada do without you, jack
seriously


If one man is that important, then we were doomed anyway. I mean, isn't that the whole point of socialism?
posted by philip-random at 11:02 PM on August 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


.
posted by blue shadows at 1:54 AM on August 24, 2011


Would it be disrespectful to begin discussing the future of the NDP without Jack, and possible successors?

Not at all. I'll start with the man I'd like to see but who probably doesn't want the job: Gary Doer.
posted by rocket88 at 7:42 AM on August 24, 2011


Bob Rae. I keed, I keed (not really).
posted by No Robots at 7:52 AM on August 24, 2011


After her slag on Layton, I'd say Christie Blatchford needs to look in the mirror but Geneva convention forbids cruel & unusual punishment. — Ed the Sock (yes, that Ed the Sock)
posted by Zozo at 8:07 AM on August 24, 2011


Sitting with friends on the shore of a prairie pond near Moorhead, Minnesota last night watching the sunset, the swallows chasing mosquitos, the bass chasing bullhead minnows in the shallows. We taked at length about US politics, about Pawlenty and Bachmann, and the prospects for the future of progressive politics in the USA.

And then my friends turn to me and say "We are so sorry about Jack Layton" like it was my brother that died and all this other talk was just really dancing around the elephant on the dock: that a great guy had died, a guy important to Canadians, but also a guy that inspired hope among distressed progressives in the know in other countries. Jack Layton offered a glimmer of hope for graceful leftist politics in the Anglo-American sphere, where such politics and decorum seems to be on hiatus now, kowtowed by right wing bullying and individualistic entitlement.

Parts of the NDP represent the best of Canada, the kind of practical prairie outlook that gets on with doing the things that need to be done to take care of people in small communities, in exploitative workplaces and other places. Jack embodied it, and will be missed.
posted by salishsea at 8:13 AM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


The National Post published some responses to Blatchford's article, mostly critical.

It's disgusting that they can talk about the "Dianification" Of Jack Layton, just one day after his death. I think that most of us who liked Jack Layton are realistic about who he was and are right to admire so many things about him. He was a national party leader. He made pragmatic decisions. I don't think I'd ever be comfortable joining a political party, but I can't escape the conclusion that, well, someone has to do it. And Jack did it admirably.
posted by beau jackson at 8:42 AM on August 24, 2011


I'll start with the man I'd like to see but who probably doesn't want the job: Gary Doer.

He's near the top of the list. Aside from the fact that he's probably feeling just fine where he is, he's in line with the old skool part of the party, but still attuned to what the kids are listening to. Dunno about the strength of his Quebec relations, though.

The name most being tossed about is Mulcair, and while he would do well in that he's a skilled politician, an experienced one, and straddles the two solitudes as well as anyone can, he's not exactly a personable, inspiring guy. After Jack, he'd be a total downer, and a sign of returning to politics as usual.

Libby Davies has the sensibilities and experience, but may not be able to reach out to mainstream Canada the way that Jack did. And again -- Quebec outreach is going to be key, no matter who gets in there, and I sense (and I may be wrong) that that's not Davies' strong suit.

Olivia Chow is the sentimental favourite, absolutely. And for everything that Jack did over the last twenty-five years, she was an equal partner in it. She's a political animal of the first order, no doubt. She could handle the position, and best carry on Jack's legacy, for a whole bunch of reasons.

I'm going to suggest another name -- David Miller. The politics are there, the skill is there, the experience there, and he's close enough to Jack while still being a relative outsider. He's looking positively golden these days, compared to Rob Ford, and that's only going to get better. The man is tenacious for his constituents, which is good, but it may have made for some enemies across the country already. Well spoken, inspiring, engaged with the kids. Only thing which is unknown is how he interacts with Quebec. I'm sure he knows the right things to say -- he always does -- but can he actively engage with them, rather than talk to or at them?
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:50 AM on August 24, 2011


I found the Blatchford article idiotic. A politician wrote a letter less than 48 hours before his death and -- horrors! -- he had help writing it! A man who spent his entire career in politics was political! A man who took a party from almost nowhere to the opposition was a canny politician with ambition! I am not sure why anyone bothered to publish such tripe. But it was a nice counterpoint -- Jack Layton suggested love, hope and optimism, and Christie Blatchford went in the other direction. I know who will end up being remembered.

(We are now getting to the silly season of memorials, though. Renaming a major street in Montreal after him? No. That's not the kind of action he was looking for. Montreal is the wrong city, too.)

I am really curious about why no one will disclose what kind of cancer killed him. It just seems so odd that it is being kept determinedly secret.

I gather Olivia Chow doesn't want the position, or didn't, anyhow.
posted by jeather at 8:54 AM on August 24, 2011


I am really curious about why no one will disclose what kind of cancer killed him. It just seems so odd that it is being kept determinedly secret.

I've heard some suggestion that with Jack's very quick decline, that he 'must have known' earlier, and have campaigned knowing it, i.e. lied to everyone about it. Revealing what type of cancer it was may further that suspicion.

In my personal experience, his rapid decline mirrored my father's lymphoma in both appearance and timing, so I'm inclined to think it may have been something like that. Apparently (and I have only a vague memory to back this up), prostate cancer has a degree of correlation with later lymphoma or other circulatory system cancers, which in turn lead to loss of bone density -- suggesting a reason for his still-unexplained hip fracture.

I stand to be corrected on any of my armchair diagnosis. It's none of our business, in any event.

posted by Capt. Renault at 9:05 AM on August 24, 2011


David Miller won't want the job, given that one of the reasons he didn't run again for mayor of Toronto was to spend time with his family. His kids were 10 and 12 years old at the time he stepped away, and he had been mayor for 8 of those years (or numbers to that affect.)

Re the type of cancer - when he did not reveal what the new cancer was, my thought was that it must be really bad news. I think most people thought that. And the unexplained hip fracture was a big clue also. I think it will be disclosed eventually.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:10 AM on August 24, 2011


Just to make clear -- I don't buy into the 'he must have known' theory. These things can act fast, and if you're not looking for that kind of cancer specifically, it's easy to attribute the symptoms to other things.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:12 AM on August 24, 2011


I know it isn't our business, which is why I am curious about why the type of cancer is being kept secret now, after he has died (I can understand why you would not share it during treatment), rather than what type of cancer it was. I do not have any opinion about what he knew during the election, and do not think he was trying to pull something over on Canadians even if he knew he had a new type of cancer.
posted by jeather at 9:20 AM on August 24, 2011


I think the people who know the answer are busy with other things this week. It will come out down the road.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:58 AM on August 24, 2011


...saw that even the local fascist shitrag had an understated and respectful front page for Jack.

You're lucky. Here's what the editor of our local facist shitrag had to say.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:54 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. And tracking back, I think we've found all 4,000 viewers of Sun TV.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:11 AM on August 24, 2011


Responding to negativity: Trashing The Late Jack Layton: Christie Blatchford, Troll Extraordinaire or "How Christie Blatchford Exploited The Death Of Jack Layton".

More in keeping with good vibes, the video (Nardwuar vs. Jack Layton) linked at the bottom of the article is great!
posted by mazola at 11:11 AM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Some medical-type people I know have suggested that prostate-to-bone cancer is a fairly common vector. It would explain the hip fracture as the initial entry point. Pure speculation, of course.
posted by rocket88 at 11:29 AM on August 24, 2011


Thinking about it, Mulcair may be the way to go.

Aside from the obvious Quebec appeal, which is very, very important for the NDP solidifying their growth, Mulcair has a different appeal.

As a former Liberal, he represents the idea that mainstream centre-left traditionally-Liberal voters can find a home in the NDP. Usually, the trend went the other way, with Bob Rae and Ujjal Dosanjh or others moving from provincial NDP to federal Liberals, and with it presenting the idea that the federal NDP were not a party worth supporting.

Mulcair moving the other way suggests to traditional Liberal voters that indeed it's OK to go orange. That Liberal block has to go somewhere, and it may be advantageous to have one of their own telling them to come on in, the water's lovely. Going mainstream is what would put them over the top.

But there is a real contrast in personalities between Jack and Mulcair. Mulcair's a fighter, compared to nice guy Jack. The nice guy got the party this far, maybe it needs a fighter to be going after Harper for four years solid before the next election. The podium is there, after all.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:08 PM on August 24, 2011


Jack came to Parliament Hill for the last time today. He will lie in state for two days before his body is returned to Toronto for the funeral.

The memorial in Toronto has spread halfway across the square by now. Fans of the dramatic may reflect on the fact that mayor Rob Ford's office has just about the same view that the linked photo depicts. Hizzoner's well-documented views on graffiti, the outpouring of tributes to his one-time foe on city council, and thoughts of what his own legacy will someday be must make the inside of his head an interesting place right now.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:16 PM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's a danger that picking Mulcair will paint the NDP as a Quebec-centred party. That could alienate some supporters and potential supporters in the RoC (Rest of Canada).
Plus, I'm not convinced he's really a New Democrat at heart. A long association with the Libs and the fact that he let himself be courted by the federal Tories (and claims to have considered it) tells me he's a centrist at best and an opportunist at worst.
posted by rocket88 at 12:29 PM on August 24, 2011


It's a tricky balance -- they have to solidify their Quebec gains without alienating the RoC. And how to do that? (And I'm assuming that solidifying those gains is of absolutely vital importance, because if they go back there, the NDP are sunk everywhere.)

Choosing a Quebecker is an easy way to solidify those gains. But there has to be a better solution, someone who, as you say, won't alienate the RoC (especially in the West). At the same time, choosing one of the traditional NDP stalwarts isn't the best idea either, if the party is going to be put over the top.

The 'third way' debate has been raging in the party since the time of Tony Blair, and it still isn't settled. Jack did a lot to bring the party there, but there's still a ways to go -- at least in terms of public perception. Mulcair may be the way to go there, rather than going back to someone in the old guard -- which didn't get the party anywhere. And Mulcair the fighter as successor to Jack the idealist has a Kennedy-Johnson dynamic to it which might work.

I think that choosing a centrist may not be the worst idea. Choosing someone from the outside would probably be the best option, but who would that be? Your suggestion of Doer, my suggestion of Miller -- who else? Any outsider is likely to have non-NDP baggage to deal with, that is going to have to become palatable to the base.

Not that I mean to be all rah-rah-rah for Mulcair, here, either. He's a difficult candidate.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:48 PM on August 24, 2011


Brian Topp's name keeps getting tossed around, and he may fit the bill on all scores, but -- the man has absolutely zero public recognition. In my mind, he's a total non-starter.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:52 PM on August 24, 2011


I think any leadership prospects won't seem apparent in advance of a well-thought out and properly executed leadership race. Which is as it should be, really. Although I've heard a few names put forth that meet what I feel should be the minimum requirements (speak *well* in *both* official languages, political history either in Parliament or elsewhere with profile) - Topp, Mulcair and Paul Dewar all meet these - I cannot think of anyone that seems like an obvious choice.

2003's race turned out so well because it got everyone well involved and informed, even those of us member who couldn't afford to attend convention in person. Mme. Turmel is a new MP, but she's no political rookie (PSAC grew into the most powerful public-sector union in the country, winning several advocacy battles, under her stewardship). Though I wouldn't want her to run for permanent leader (her English is about as good as Stephane Dion's which is good enough for me, but not good enough for many anglophones unfortunately, anglophone pols are lucky francophone voters aren't quite as picky), she's a perfect person to steward the party carefully and fairly towards a new leader. So there's really no reason to rush a leadership process or fret too much about lack of an heir apparent. Even if the next leader isn't widely known across the country (as Layton himself wasn't when he first put forward his name for leader), there's a good few years before an election, so lots of time to get a new face out there.
posted by Kurichina at 1:44 PM on August 24, 2011


Yeah, I wouldn't rule out any behind-the-scenes types like Topp. The leadership race will be a highly-watched affair, with lots of cross-country public campaigning. By the end all the frontrunners will be sufficiently well-known.
posted by rocket88 at 2:11 PM on August 24, 2011


Rachel Notely is completely out of the running, isn't she?
posted by PinkMoose at 2:18 PM on August 24, 2011


I think they absolutely have to go with a Quebecer. The rest of Canada can come later.

Mentioning Rae and Dosanjh is interesting. The old guard NDP hate Rae, and the old guard Liberals will never play unite the left now--they wouldn't be in charge any more. Rae and Dosanjh finding their way back to the NDP, federally, could make a merger more or less irrelevant and go a long way to solidifying the seriousness of the NDP in the rest of Canada.

I don't think the NDP are ready for the big game in that way, but... Well, I'd like to be surprised.
posted by Chuckles at 2:26 PM on August 24, 2011


Okay, not irrelevant, but it could further marginalize the Liberals. Timing would be critical though.. Rae's defection would have to come just before the next election. 2 months? 6 months? I'm not sure exactly, but certainly not now.
posted by Chuckles at 2:28 PM on August 24, 2011


I'm with you, Chuckles. Let's make it happen.
posted by No Robots at 2:44 PM on August 24, 2011


I think they absolutely have to go with a Quebecer. The rest of Canada can come later.

As a West Coaster, I have to agree. Solidifying their Quebec breakthrough should be their top priority right now.
posted by mek at 3:11 PM on August 24, 2011


Just got back from the Hill. Just under two hours in and out. It was worth it. I'm really glad I went. Surprised myself by crying as I walked away from the casket. Like many, many other people.
posted by aclevername at 4:55 PM on August 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Once again, twice as much coverage for Jack on le telejournal than on The National. It's hard to escape the conclusion that a magnificent opportunity has been lost. Taken.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:19 PM on August 24, 2011


We just came back as well. Two hours in line, but we won't remember that a year from now. What I will remember: the glimpse into the empty house with a bouquet of white carnations on his desk.
posted by bonehead at 7:48 PM on August 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's been two days and I'm still far more shaken up about this than I expected. My pro-military francophone Quebecois family went orange this year after years of voting Conservative. There was so much hope. My entire Facebook wall was grieving for him and is still posting things about him despite it being Pride week in Ottawa. Fuck cancer.
posted by buteo at 10:27 PM on August 24, 2011


Is anyone in Toronto planning on attending Saturday's service?
posted by avocet at 8:24 AM on August 25, 2011


...about 10,000 Canadians paid their respects to Mr. Layton through into the night. House of Commons officials closed off the line at 9 p.m. The last mourners went through after 11 o’clock.

We wondered about that. Originally, the official close for the visitation was 8/8:30 (reports during the day differed). People were still getting in line at that time. I'm glad they were able to stretch the rules to accomodate as many as possible.

NDP MPs were walking the entrance line, shaking hands and chatting with people. Charley Angus, said that they wanted to thank everyone personally for coming.
posted by bonehead at 8:43 AM on August 25, 2011


Canadian Heritage is projecting 10,000 more visitors this morning.
posted by LN at 11:12 AM on August 25, 2011


For reference, 60,000 people attended Pierre Elliott Trudeau's lying-in-state in Ottawa in 2000 when he passed away.
posted by LN at 11:13 AM on August 25, 2011


avocet, before I found out the time, I had planned to, but unfortunately I absolutely must be in another part of the city at that time.
posted by mayurasana at 1:47 PM on August 25, 2011


...the queue this morning (they opened the doors early) had people dressed in black, and people dressed in orange, which gave the whole thing a bit of a Hallowe'eny feel. It gave me a moment of cheer, one I suspect he would've approved of, in an otherwise heart-wrenching week.

Like a good number of other people I met the man, once. At a pub. He was dynamic and humble at the same time, thoroughly likable. But the best part was how he left -- on a bicycle. Off into the Ottawa night on a bike.

I bought and read with interest his book on homelessness in 2005. I re-read the 'what can I do' section yesterday. He didn't ask anybody else to be like him and make a career out of it, didn't ask for any exceptional sacrifice. Write letters, organise, vote carefully. Not so hard.

After my trip to what I could not stop thinking of in terms of the Canadian-left-in-a-box I came home to an e-mail from a friend who has been voting NDP for decades, with a wail against our "out-dated "first-past-the-post" electoral formats that have caused me to have knowingly WASTED all my federal and provincial voting opportunities for the past several decades on voting for men/women who had absolutely NO chance of winning at all."

Which made me start blubbering again, because the NDP had gone from 'no chance' to 'realistic shot at running the country' just with this one bike-riding guy...

The week has left me quite shaken, sad both at what my country lost and unnerved at how close just about anybody can be to death. I completely brushed off his announcement last month as the idea of his not coming back seemed a ridiculous impossibility. And.

There will be others. Trudeau made me think I had been born in the best possible time at the best possible place; his Canada was a good place to be a kid. Ed Broadbent was my high school crush. I just wish they weren't so few and far between.

I do hope this all lays heavy on the hearts of people who vote for whomever has the biggest lie about a tax break, and we can stop embarrassing ourselves with the homeless and the extremely poor going so largely politically ignored here.

Not just gone, but quickly, painfully, and so much in his prime. My heart breaks for his family and friends; I can't imagine their pain.

.
posted by kmennie at 6:31 PM on August 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


I biked by city hall an hour before the doors were to open. I'm not great at estimating numbers, but I'd say there were 100-200 people waiting in line.
posted by beau jackson at 7:10 AM on August 26, 2011


Mother Renault is in line this morning, dressed in black with an orange feather boa. Already interviewed by the ceeb, likening Jack's passing to Father Renault's dying of cancer a few years ago. Very serious moment. Dressed in a bright orange feather boa.

When she initially told me of her orange feather boa plan, I asked her if she would want to take my orange vuvuzela, too. She rebuffed that idea as 'disrespectful'. So if you're watching the news later, Mother Renault is the one in the bright orange feather boa, without a vuvuzela.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:40 AM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Apparently the line is quite "lively", and filled with 'similar-minded people', and a good time overall. Olivia and the kids are doing the rounds, visiting everyone in line.

Everyone is pretty happy, but prone to crying moments.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:50 AM on August 26, 2011


Ladies in orange boas on the ceeb, in the Star, interviewed live on CBC Newsworld, on CP24...
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:06 AM on August 26, 2011


Capt. Renault, saw and heard your ladies on radio and on TV. One of them has a fabulous accent - like a cross between heavy Newfoundland and French. They looked great, too.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:46 PM on August 26, 2011


Damn it, damn it. I've been away from Canada until today and this is awfully sad news to come back to. RIP Jack; I'll always remember you as someone who consistently took the high road, and I respect that. I wish more politicians supported your vision of a fair and just society.

.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:33 PM on August 26, 2011


Tangential sidebar: interesting historical update to the circumstances and execution of the originator of Don't mourn, organize!
posted by mazola at 8:40 AM on August 27, 2011


Seeing Stephen Lewis just now -- his eulogy is bound to be one for the ages -- what about Avi Lewis as the new leader?

A new face, an outsider, with a proud lineage and solid lefty cred...
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:04 AM on August 27, 2011


I foolishly thought I'd make it through the funeral without tears, and then the piper started playing Going Home as they brought the casket out of Toronto city hall.
posted by aclevername at 10:19 AM on August 27, 2011


Toronto cops better at marching than the Mounties were. And at least they could find four guys of the same height.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:24 AM on August 27, 2011


Media is like a swarm of bees around the hearse. You don't have zoom lenses on those things?
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:31 AM on August 27, 2011


Mansbridge says that Jack was listening to k.d. lang's cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' as he "drifted away".
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some sax solos, and it's time to begin. Hopefully they'll let Olivia sit down now.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:58 AM on August 27, 2011


Lovely blessing from the leader of the first nations, calling upon the ancestors and the four directions to guide Jack in his spirit journey.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some interfaith blessings, a song in French, and now the video tribute.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:22 AM on August 27, 2011


You gotta wonder how the speakers will get through the eulogies with all the applause.
posted by aclevername at 11:32 AM on August 27, 2011


Stephen Lewis hitting all the high marks of Layton's career and of social democracy, getting many standing ovations for it.

Tory cabinet ministers -- Baird, Toews, Tony the Greek -- all being very, very quiet.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:36 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Barnstormer of a eulogy and call to arms.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:42 AM on August 27, 2011


Lovely eulogy from son Michael, much more personal.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:53 AM on August 27, 2011


Another lovely eulogy from daughter Sarah, and a huge sigh of relief.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:58 AM on August 27, 2011


Capt. Renault writes "Media is like a swarm of bees around the hearse. You don't have zoom lenses on those things?"

Teles flatten perspective.
posted by Mitheral at 12:06 PM on August 27, 2011


Excellent sermon. Wove the personal and the universal beautifully.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:24 PM on August 27, 2011


Wrapping up with an upbeat tempo, some in the crowd clearly unable to share in the happiness of the song.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:40 PM on August 27, 2011


And an hour and three quarters later, we're done.

Overall, very well done, very well presented. Excellent speeches and remembrances, all inspirational.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:52 PM on August 27, 2011


One last note, though -- all these references to passing the torch? A dog whistle for those of us who are NDPers and also Habs fans.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:10 PM on August 27, 2011


It must be quite bizarre to be Stephen Harper right now.

That was wonderfully done. I hope this is a pivotal moment; it certainly feels like it. I wept at the live-streamed sight of the Toronto crowds.

One astute comment:

"If he succeeds, and young people actually get involved in the search for solutions, get involved in politics, get involved in advocating for optimistic change, he will pass into history as a seminal figure in Canadian public life, a man who opened the political arena to a generation that opted to vote with its feet in several elections, plunging political involvement to worrisome depths."

via
posted by kmennie at 1:40 PM on August 27, 2011


Wonderful photo in the Star, of Tory indifference, bewilderment and anger at Stephen Lewis' call to arms. The scowl of Tony the Greek alone...

Safe to say that none of those men will ever receive a similar outpouring of emotion.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:06 PM on August 27, 2011


I stood for a couple hours outside city hall, with probably about a thousand others, and watched the casket and the family exit. The crowd burst into applause, for Jack. Then, as the cortege got moving, we all joined the much larger crowd following along to Roy Thompson hall. Such a diverse crowd. There was a pipe band, and then amongst the 'people's march' a marching band. There were a lot of people wearing moustaches and wearing orange. Lots of laughter and tears. Pretty amazing.
posted by stray at 5:16 PM on August 27, 2011


The Girl and I were in the crowd outside Roy Thomson Hall and drifted off towards Nathan Phillips Square after the service. We were pleasantly surprised to see that after the tumultuous rainstorms of Wednesday night, the chalk memorial was back and bigger than ever -- it was spread across the entire square, up the walls of City Hall, and circled the square on the elevated walkway. We even added our own contributions.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:19 PM on August 27, 2011


Stephen Lewis' euology for Jack. Michael and Sarah Layton's eulogy for their father.

The CN Tower in orange.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:48 AM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know - I wonder if maybe the more progressive elements in the US could start using Orange as their color.

Between the NDP in Canada and back when the State Reps in WI were wearing orange t-shirts as a protest during our tumult, maybe it's a way to say "not just a plain old 'blue' democrat, certainly not a blue dog. not red communist (or republican in modern us coloring), but orange."

Plus, oranges are fucking tasty. And so is Social Democracy. OM NOM NOM!
posted by symbioid at 3:46 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just moved to Toronto, and yesterday passed through city hall to get SINned. I was really moved by the incredible display there, chalk writing on every surface giving tribute to Jack Layton.

It's clear that Canada's lost one of her best.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:37 AM on September 1, 2011


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