In early 2008, I invited Jack Layton and his core team of advisers to my home for dinner, and a talk about politics.
Specifically, I hoped we would make a decision about a proposal we had been kicking around in the party for some months.
The proposal: build out from "representational politics" and explicitly run a campaign on the idea that Jack Layton wanted to be prime minister. We wanted a mandate to form a government; and we had a set of prudent, responsible, progressive and much-needed proposals we wanted to implement. In other words, directly challenge the blue and red teams for their franchises as governing parties.
The implications were not small, in a number of ways. There was much to say on both sides of this matter, and much of it was said over that dinner.
Jack Layton listened to the advice politely, and then spoke up.
"I'm not quite sure why we're debating this," he said. "I've always run to be prime minister, I've always believed our goal was to form a government, and I've always thought we should frame our proposals so that we'd have a mandate to implement them if we had the numbers in the House."
He then turned to my then 10-year-old son, listening to all of this with wide eyes.
"Hey, do you play the piano?"
Not yet, but he'd like to, my son answered.
"Let's go take a look at your piano."
So Jack Layton and my son left the dinner table for our living room. And a few minutes later our home was filled with lively piano music and the voices of a federal party leader and a 10-year-old boy singing a duet, fairly loudly.
This was two things.
It was just one small example of how Jack Layton reached out to people -- including very young people -- to give them moments they would never forget. This is our favourite memory of Jack, my wife and I agreed Monday morning after learning that he had passed away.
And it was the nicest possible way for Jack Layton to let his campaign team know that their meeting was over and that a decision had been made.
This article was first published in The Globe and Mail.
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, while striving to make it sustainable as well. 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 main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.