For immediate release - Thursday, September 1, 2011
(Ottawa) Inspired by Jack Layton's final message, almost 1,000 Canadians have already signed up to participate in a week of gatherings and a day of action designed to help them organize themselves, across generations and party lines, to work together for change. Leadnow.ca, the organization that made vote mobs a national phenomena in the last election, is coordinating the campaign, called Turning Point.
* The Turning Point gatherings will take place between Tuesday, September 27 and Sunday, October 2nd.
* The Turning Point day of action will take place on Monday, October 3rd.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to give the late NDP leader Jack Layton a state funeral can be parsed two ways: a noble gesture or a Machiavellian political manoeuvre to further marginalize his original foe, the leaderless, languishing Liberals.
But no one, least of all Harper himself, could have predicted Canadians' week-long outpouring of emotion. Was it a fleeting historical moment? Or something more profound? If the former, political normalcy will return with the opening of Parliament Sept. 21. If the latter, the state funeral could turn out to be Harper's biggest political mistake yet.
Never in our collective lifetime have we seen such an outpouring, so much emotional intensity, from every corner of this country. There have been occasions, historically, when we've seen respect and admiration but never so much love, never such a shocked sense of personal loss.
Jack was so alive, so much fun, so engaged in daily life with so much gusto, so unpretentious, that it was hard while he lived to focus on how incredibly important that was to us, he was to us. Until he was so suddenly gone, cruelly gone, at the pinnacle of his career.
To hear so many Canadians speak so open-heartedly of love, to see young and old take chalk in hand to write without embarrassment of hope, or hang banners from overpasses to express their grief and loss. It's astonishing.
As funeral guests gathered at the door of the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto to mourn Jack Layton's passing and celebrate his life on Saturday, activists, First Nations leaders, campaigners, diplomats and politicians of all stripes and areas of Canada were counted among them.
From the moment the ceremony began there was no doubt that this was to be a very political event, not just because of its guest list, but because this ceremony, planned by Layton and his family as his illness progressed, a clear message was being sent to Canada: social justice is important, Canadians want it, and Canada is capable of achieving that goal.
The second last time I saw Jack Layton was at a garden party at Stornoway in late June. Speaking under a vast white tent as desultory raindrops punished the exiled mass of smokers, he declared his and Olivia's new house, the residence of the leader of the official opposition, to be "the people's house."
Shortly afterwards I caught him on his way out and sheepishly asked for a photo. I can't say why really, I suppose I was overcome by the emotion of the moment. In seven years and something like 20 meetings and conversations, it was the first time I posed for a picture with him. I remember mumbling apologies for being so sycophantic, which he brushed off with his usual generosity of spirit.
OTTAWA, August 23, 2011 - Canadians are invited to pay their respects to the Honourable Jack Layton, Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and Member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.
The Lying-in-State for Mr Layton will take place in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday, August 24 and Thursday, August 25. It will be open to the public from 12:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday and from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Canadians can also pay tribute to Mr. Layton as he lies in repose at Toronto City Hall on Friday, August 26 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, August 27 beginning at 9 a.m. until 11 a.m.
Jack Layton's final letter to all Canadians, dated Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011, two days before he died. It can also be read in PDF format here:
Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.
Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.
Statement by Olivia Chow, Sarah and Michael Layton
AUGUST 22, 2011
We deeply regret to inform you that The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. Details of Mr. Layton's funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
Statement from Nycole Turmel
AUGUST 22, 2011
New Democrats today are mourning the loss of a great Canadian.
In 2012, James Lorimer and Company will publish Remembering Jack, a book of stories about Jack Layton written by his friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances. If you have a story about Jack that you'd like to share with others, we would love to hear from you. Please note that we are not looking for eulogies, but actual anecdotes involving Jack.