Early yesterday morning I was deeply saddened and surprised to learn that Jack Layton, one of Canada's greatest political leaders, had succumbed to his courageous battle with cancer. Perhaps, the news should not have been such a shock - in late July Jack had been forced to step down from his position as leader of the NDP in order to focus on his ongoing struggles with his health. Nonetheless, I cannot say that it was a message I had prepared for.
Jack presented his illness to the public in the same way he did everything else: with unwavering confidence, belief and conviction of a positive outcome. Throughout his political career he was an advocate for change, reform, and hope for a better and greater Canada. In an age where politicians and insincerity have become synonymous, Jack Layton was a man whom people, regardless of their political affiliation, trusted & believed. Of all our national leaders, he seemed the most naturally suited to the job; delivering his speeches emphatically, always energetic and smiling as he greeted crowds, notoriously willing to stop in front of any and every camera in order to deliver his party's message.
With his passing the country suffers a tremendous loss. A loss of a leader whose magnetism ascended the NDP to the forefront of the political stage as the official party of the opposition. A loss of a man who succeeded where many had failed in uniting support nation-wide by garnering endorsement with French as well as English-speaking Canadians. A loss of someone who represented optimism for the future, and inspired his fellow countrymen, myself included, to join him in persevering for our common betterment. As Jack wrote in his final letter, "Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one - a country of better equality, justice, and opportunity."
Above are some great posters by Stuart Thursby with quotes from Jack's last two open letters to the public. You can click on them for the full-resolution printable versions (up to 11" x 17"), and see the rest on Stuart's website here.
RIP Jack. You will be missed but not forgotten.