Remember Jack Layton and build a better Canada

Photo: flickr/Matt Jiggins

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Saturday August 22 marks the fourth anniversary of Jack Layton's death. Beloved by Canadians from all walks of life, he turned us onto politics in the best way, and gave us hope for the future. In that way he was the quintessential Canadian -- hopeful, loving, and optimistic. Who can forget his poignant letter to Canadians, and his endearing habit of waving his walking stick as a tool of defiance to his sickness, and as a symbol that he could do it (his favourite quote: "don't let them tell you it can't be done").

I know he'd be laughing today and grinning as he watched media pundits choke on their words about the one time "fluke" of the "orange wave." He'd point to the years of building and careful preparation that made the orange wave possible in Quebec and elsewhere. He'd be proud of current NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and what he's accomplished in four years, and he'd be over the moon that the NDP federal caucus that he built is going strong and aiming to grow.

So it's bittersweet that the man we'd most like to celebrate for his vision and success is the man we grieve. I still get people coming up to me on the street recounting how they met him at an airport, or on the street, or at an event in their community. There's always a common thread -- they all felt he genuinely listened to them, and responded with warmth and interest.

In this day and age of Duffy trials, cynicism, lying, and fear-mongering, we need to summon up the good karma of Jack Layton and remember what he worked for and not let ourselves be sucked into a vortex of anger and fear about politics that leaves people so paralyzed they can't act and change what's going on around them.

Jack was passionate about the need to address climate change both globally and locally and he was equally passionate about homelessness and the "unnatural disaster" of the growing numbers of people who are destitute in this extraordinarily wealthy country. These two issues are related and he got that. He understood that fundamental change is needed to care for our planet and the people who are most at risk of dying. He understood that the current course of public policy ignores and exacerbates these issues and that it creates untold misery and suffering.

It's not that he was the greatest visionary -- he was a superb pragmatist at heart -- it's that he could see a way forward was possible and achievable and he knew the steps that needed to be taken.

So, on this anniversary of our brief connection to Jack Layton and his wonderful life, what will you think about? What will you do?

I'll tell you my answer: I resolve to be more informed about what is happening around me in my community and I will work hard to defeat the Conservative government, which has done so much damage to this country. Yes, that sounds partisan, but heck we are in the middle of a federal election, and Jack would have a conniption if he thought I weren't talking it up and calling for people to get involved.

One last word of importance for me, and I think many of us: Olivia. I was delighted that she jumped into the race -- no doubt a tough decision. Oh, that Jack were here to cheer her on and tell her how proud he is that she is out there working her butt off, for what she believes in. He can't do that, so I figure we need to be Jack's voice and support her all the way.

I miss you Jack. I'm one of countless many who remember you, what you stood for and that you were a really decent guy.

Libby Davies

Libby was Jack's good friend and his House Leader for eight years in Parliament, and first met him in the early 1980s when they were both city councillors in Toronto and Vancouver.

Photo: flickr/Matt Jiggins

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story...

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all. But media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our only supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help.

If everyone who visits rabble and likes it chipped in a couple of dollars per month, our future would be much more secure and we could do much more: like the things our readers tell us they want to see more of: more staff reporters and more work to complete the upgrade of our website.

We’re asking if you could make a donation, right now, to set rabble on solid footing in 2017.

Make a donation.Become a monthly supporter.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.