Archive for August, 2011

A Man of Honour.

In Memory of Jack Layton, 1950 – 2011

Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

Friends; we rarely see political leaders anywhere with a capacity to inspire, engage the citizenry in public life and evoke deep feelings of political – cultural renewal in our country. Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) was one of those rare gems of a human being capable to engender respect for his opinions, his knowledge of the issues affecting ordinary people, his extensive experience in political advocacy and policy making and admiration for his acute sense of “joie de vivre” …

I am not a pundit on Jack Layton’ social conscience and activism; I became aware of his work, while he was city councillor in Toronto in the 90’s, a tireless worker, sensible to the plight of the homeless; gay & lesbians; violence against women, and so forth. In fact, I read one of his books then on the very subject of Homelessness in Canada, and what an education did I received!

He illuminated in accessible terms for those of us who still struggled with our second language, what matters in building healthy communities, what was and is essential. Good-will, ethical reasoning; the moral courage to do what is right, and a strong dose of compassion and love.

I always thought of Jack as being a cultural creative at the centre of his political life; yet, he also had the innate wisdom to seize the “pragmatic moment,” so to speak, to articulate our deepest aspirations and to seek balance and moderation in our public discourse. I would venture to say he was a modern social democrat, not a hard-core ideologue, travelling with the times, adapting to changing social, political, cultural and economic circumstances of our nation, our world; he remained accessible, and to many an inspiration.

Like many I watched and celebrated the outstanding electoral victory of the NDP during the last federal election; indeed, it was an historic moment in Canada’s contemporary political life, charged with the power of the imagination and the profound responsibilities that comes with going from 51 MPs to 105. Jack took the NDP from a struggling third party status, to being the Official Opposition, and ‘government-in-waiting” – no small feat by any measure!

But, if I may, what I liked about Jack the most was is genuine demeanor; he was personal, he talked with people, not at them. He listened well, and he showed his empathy for ordinary people in his deeds. In Quebec that found deep resonance, and the Rest of Canada responded with almost similar wonder.

As far as I could tell from a distance, there was nothing false about Jack Layton; transparency, his middle name. Representing his constituency and capturing the aspirational feelings and core values of middle-Canada, where most people are, I think, this was his time, and he lived it to his fullest, in the loving company of his spouse Olivia, his kids, friends; and distinguished colleagues in the House of Commons.

We were blessed to have such an Honourable Man in our midst; I am certain he won’t be forgotten anytime soon and that with the passage of time, he will rightly occupy a shining place in the Canadian Pantheon of those rare political Leaders than come now and then whom we call “indispensables” …


© Leo Campos Aldunez

August 21, 2011 Canada