Monday, August 22, 2011

Jack Layton Dead At 61

The Honourable Jack Layton:
July 18, 1950 - August 22, 2011

It's a sad day for Canada today, as the nation mourns the passing of NDP leader Jack Layton.
Layton passed away early Sunday morning of cancer, though details about his latest fight with cancer have been kept quiet by his family.

Although Layton announced less than a month ago that he would be taking a leave of absence from his post as leader of the official opposition to focus on his battle with cancer, Layton's death came as a shock to many.

Mainly because over the last year in his public appearances, Layton appeared to be The Unstoppable Man.

Early in 2010, Layton announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He publicly vowed to beat the cancer and be back on track to resume his political duties when Parliament was back in session in the fall. And he was. Layton was very optimistic about his fight with prostate cancer, as he had beaten the same condition 17 years earlier.

When the 2011 election had been called for this past May, Layton was recovering from a broken hip he had suffered earlier in the year, and still relied heavily on his cane. When questioned by the media if he had the energy to lead his party through another election campaign, he all but laughed in their faces. Indeed, Layton arguably finished the election scrappier than ever, and propelled his party to Official opposition status for the first time in NDP history.

Through all of the health issues Layton struggled with in the last year, he never seemed to lose composure or confidence that they were minor roadblocks, and indeed, Layton seemed invincible.

Last month when Layton announced publicly that he would be taking the rest of the summer off to fight a bout of newly diagnosed (and unspecified to the public) cancer, Canadians across the country were shocked at his gaunt and frail appearance. But in true Jack fashion, he vowed he would be back for the fall sitting of Parliament. Truly, Canadians had no reason to believe otherwise, as nothing seemed to get in the way of Jack's interminable will.

But sadly, Jack's fight came to an end this weekend. He passed away peacefully at 4:45 am Sunday morning.

Whether or not you agreed with Jacks politics, no one can deny his tenacity and overwhelming desire to make Canada a better place. Jack believed in the power of the people, and that ordinary working citizens like you and me were the driving factor to make Canada a world force and a nation that could be home to anyone despite race, gender or wealth.

Jack's level of conviction set a gold standard for everyone to live up to, especially politicians. I hope others follow in his footsteps.

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