I knew Jack for more than half of his life, nearly half of mine. He had helped Michael Goldrick, my predecessor on Toronto city council, and then helped me during my first election in 1976. This was when he conducted his first fundraising auction, displaying one of an extraordinary range of talents.
Jack joined me at city hall in 1982 and we became closer, not the least because we sat next to each other in the council chamber for many years. Our views on most things were the same. He was better at expressing them, and much better at mobilizing support for them. I retired in 1991, the year he lost the mayoral race to June Rowlands, becoming the best mayor Toronto never had.
Jack regained his position on the Metro Toronto council (as it was then) in 1994 and spent almost a decade grappling well with the enormous challenges of the 1998 amalgamation. During these years he was elected to the board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, becoming national president in 2001, another thing we had in common.
Jack was a powerhouse as FCM president, as he was in every position he occupied. As well as doing more to make homelessness a national concern than anyone had before, Jack inspired enough support across Canada to pull off a surprise victory at the federal NDP’s 2003 leadership convention. He rebuilt the party towards this year’s crowning achievement, making the NDP sufficiently appealing in his home province of Quebec to make him leader of the Opposition in Parliament, a position that — so sadly for us all — he was hardly to enjoy. He is the best prime minister Canada never had.
An adequate description of Jack requires a paragraph of adjectives. The one that for me captures him the best is inclusive. I have never met anyone who cared so much for the welfare of — in the stark words of the bidding prayer — the poor and the helpless, the cold, the hungry and the oppressed, the sick in body and in mind and them that mourn, the lonely and the unloved, the aged and the little children. Jack embraced everyone but especially those who suffered, for whom he worked indefatigably to provide support and strength. His inclusiveness inspired us and we loved him for it.
Jack was much more than a bleeding heart. He was a skilled and highly effective political mechanic, to use Glen Murray’s apt phrase. He was above all a leader, a moral leader, of a kind we will need more and more as difficult times envelop us.
A year or so ago, before we knew that the story was mostly apocryphal, Rosalind and I wondered whether any Canadian leader would have done what the king of Denmark was said to have done in 1942 when occupying Germans ordered all Jews to wear a yellow star.
I'm actually quite anti-NDP in my political stance. I feel that the NDP is far too pro union and pro-spending. We need a balanced government that won't destroy our Country through tax cuts and job cuts (Conservative) and won't run our debt so high we will never recover (NDP). But they can' be bought and paid for puppet's like the laughable Liberals.
That being said, I was looking forward to voting for Jack Layton. He just seemed like he really truly cared and could be a real agent of change. Canada lost out on a great leader I think.
Jack Layton knew how to unite his party. His actions resulted in uniting his party in 2011 and changing who took the seats in the Canadian parliament. His popularity influenced and united both his country and his government. He generated the support of his country and in turn got things done. Imagine how he could have done in a position of leadership.
He was a social democrat, who cared about the public! He had designed programs to help the elderly and youth. He changed how Canadian citizens viewed democratic government, and became popular with the elderly and youth. He has political and social experience which would have benefited Canada. Jack Layton for prime minister!
Jack Layton was more of a servant to the people of Canada than a career politician. He designed programs to improve the welfare of the elderly and increase opportunities for youth. He promoted the visibility and influence of the New Democrats. This helped to provide political alternatives to citizens and change the face of government.
As Leader of the Official Opposition, and a social democrat, Jack Layton had political experience and could have led Canada very well. He did help lead the NDP in their most successful election ever. The popular vote for the NDP doubled under his leadership, which makes me believe he would have won the position of Prime Minister if he had run.