There are few worse ways to wake up on a lazy Monday morning than by hearing that the leader of the opposition, a true visionary who brought his party to a historic breakthrough, has died of cancer.
Seriously, fuck cancer.
There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said, but I am nevertheless happy to add my voice to the massive outpouring of common sentiment. Jack Layton was, by all accounts, a man whose political brilliance was matched only by his dedication to his country. His vision for Canada had him fighting literally to his very last breath. It is likely that he was aware of the reemergence of his cancer when he staged an all-night filibuster of the Conservative back to work legislation this summer. Such was his commitment to fighting for the little guy.
Sympathies are currently pouring in from all over the political spectrum, and these should all be accepted at face value. So inspiring was Jack Layton that even his political opponents are saddened by his passing. There is no need to question the intentions of anybody who expresses their sympathies at his passing.
But for those of us who fought with Jack Layton, the NDP caucus and the other opposition parties, Layton’s mourning must have an added dimension. Simply recalling his work ethic or strength of Canada is not enough. Jack Layton was man of constrictive confrontation, who fought an election campaign which made his party the official opposition and then launched a tireless campaign against the majority conservatives once the house was sitting. It would not do his memory justice to erase the partisanship from his life’s work.
Layton’s passing should make us redouble our efforts. Jack Layton believed in a Canada that is fair to all it’s citizens, that is run according to real democratic principles, and that conducts itself with honour on the global stage. Stephen Harper believes in a Canada that does none of those things. So the proper way to remember Jack is to fight even harder for his vision and against Stephen Harper’s. We shouldn’t allow the neutering of the partisan legacy of a man who fought with everything he had for what’s right.
We have an omnibus crime bill to defeat and a provincial election to win in Ontario. We can take a few days to mourn, but soon we must get to work on those things. Let’s work even harder in memory of Jack.