Adieu, Jack

His father, Bob Layton, the chairman of Mulroney’s giant caucus, was always vaguely appalled at his activist son, Jack. Then a rabble rousing, rumpled, bike-riding Toronto alderman, the younger Layton seemed the antithesis of his upright, polished, commanding and very Conservative old man. Bob and I spoke a few times about the interesting way families evolve.

What I learned later of course, is how similar they were. Both intensely worried for the world in which they lived, devoted to a vision of public service and with an indomitable desire to make every day of their excellent adventure count.

After serving in Ottawa, Bob retired and showed up at a couple of investment lectures I gave years later across the country. Still with that military bearing and aura. I was truly saddened when he succumbed to prostate cancer. Ironically, when I did return to Parliament, there was Jack, now suited, articulate and persuasive. Sure, the NDP was easy to dismiss as a collection of ne’er-do-well social zealots with bad haircuts and the cause-du-jour badges on their lapels, but Jack was different. He had the patina of credibility, and a twinkling something in his eye which kept him more than interesting. We spent worthwhile hours together. Me a Tory. Him a socialist.

In this last campaign, as we know, Jack emerged as the one leader still interesting. Harper was evasive and lazy, Ignatieff pedantic and painful and Duceppe an anachronistic dinosaur. But there was Jack, smiling and confident, respectfully presenting questionable policies and waving that crutch in the air like the torch of freedom and flame of hope.

His party’s showing was a stunner. Suddenly Jack was moving into Stornaway, and mere breaths and years away from running the country – at least in the minds of the millions of new converts his sunny optimism attracted. As we realize, it was not policy or organization, money nor backroom boys which got him there. Just Jack. Undaunted by staring up at mighty political machines arrayed against him. Undeterred by his unformed, ill-equipped mob army. Resolute in the face of a bout with cancer and a busted hip that would have kept any of the other three leaders at home feeling sorry for themselves.

His win was the triumph of passion over reason, persona over power.

It’s rare such a person emerges from the bland middleness of this country.

Nothing gold can stay.



#1 Rich Renter on 08.22.11 at 9:59 am

RIP Jack Layton, I’ll miss you.

#2 Trevor Pereira on 08.22.11 at 9:59 am

JL was one of a kind. Let us hope that the NDP can give us another leader of Jack’s stature and resolute purpose. Thank you for a well written respectful article.

#3 Nuke It on 08.22.11 at 10:02 am

The left side just got a whole lot lighter. It took Jack to keep this country balanced. I feel for Olivia, Sara and Michael. The poor, the environment and organized labour lost a true warrior.

What a loss.

#4 Dwayne on 08.22.11 at 10:06 am

A sad day! His son Mike is a future leader too!

#5 MMP on 08.22.11 at 10:08 am

Goodbye, Jack. Thank you for being a brave advocate for all the little guys out there. You will be missed.

#6 JL on 08.22.11 at 10:10 am

thank you garth, for your thoughtful comments. what a loss for canada. it is a sad day.

#7 Dad on 08.22.11 at 10:12 am

Now the Mises really are going to do a number on our country aren’t they?

J. S. Woodsworth finally has some good company up there.

#8 Deano on 08.22.11 at 10:18 am

This is a huge blow for Canada.

Being a member of the NDP for several years I think Garth would find us less “unformed” than he thinks. Sure, we have less money than the others, but I think we know why that is.

Jack had a lot to do with establishing the backbone of the current NDP. His shoes simply cannot be filled.

#9 trinotuta on 08.22.11 at 10:20 am

What a sad day. Rest in peace Mr. Layton. Way too soon :-(

#10 Christine on 08.22.11 at 10:24 am

Sad, cause I really liked that guy…condolences to his family and friends.

#11 SRV ES339 on 08.22.11 at 10:24 am

“only the good… ”

Thank you for the post Garth :-(

#12 wes_coast on 08.22.11 at 10:25 am

Canada was fortunate to have such an empassioned statesman fighting for his vision of Canada. I’ve never voted for the man in an election but he has my vote as one of the greatest men to serve our nation. May he rest in peace and my condolences to his family.

#13 Jen on 08.22.11 at 10:30 am

thank you for posting this garth – jack will be missed, that kind of passion is so hard to come by in cynical world of politics.

even if you didn’t agree with his politics, you had to admire his sincerity and love for our country.


#14 bill on 08.22.11 at 10:32 am

Jack was one of the good guys for sure. he will be missed by many of us.

#15 Victoria on 08.22.11 at 10:33 am

Everyone liked him whether you were NDP or not. RIP Jack.

#16 Jody on 08.22.11 at 10:35 am

Thank you for that post Garth. He never gave up, glad to see he got to enjoy grandkids.

#17 Linda Pearson on 08.22.11 at 10:36 am

My son just telephoned from work, voice breaking, not heeding the guys in the background who would be watching him on the phone. Jack was his daystar, the one who ignited in him a passion for politics and for the future of our country.

Though I have never supported the NDP party, per se, I certainly found lots of ideas and proposals over the years that were worthy. And for Jack’s abiliity to turn-on my son, the gen-Xer, to the possibilities of Canada I will always be grateful.

#18 Raven on 08.22.11 at 10:38 am

Well said.

#19 dd on 08.22.11 at 10:41 am

Wow. What news.

RIP Jack.

#20 Carp on 08.22.11 at 10:41 am

In life, he lived his dreams. In death, his dream lives on.

#21 BrianT on 08.22.11 at 10:47 am

#17Linda-The thing about Layton that stood out was that he actually appeared to believe in what he was advocating, which is very unusual in the sleazy world of politics. He was a guy of integrity-he reminded me of Ron Paul, a guy totally on the opposite political spectrum.

#22 kimi on 08.22.11 at 10:48 am

A sad day, a sad loss … makes one think about how short life is.
Jack was 61. That is 61 Christmases, 61 Birthdays, 61 Summers, 61 Winters, 61 years is not alot of time here. Its a sad reminder to the rest of us that time passes quickly. Consider what is really, truely, important in Life.
My condolenses to his family is heartfelt. It’s in the eyes of those who love us, as to how we should see ourselves.

#23 Smoking Man on 08.22.11 at 10:53 am

Nice one Garth

Jack was a class act, RIP brother.

#24 Alberta Ed on 08.22.11 at 11:12 am

Jack Layton will be missed.

#25 PEI Red on 08.22.11 at 11:14 am

A sad day for Canadian politics and our country in general. Where will the balance come from? I met Jack once and liked him, despite our differing political stances. My thoughts to his family.

#26 blase on 08.22.11 at 11:27 am

Wonder how the Toronto Sun will cover his passing? On days like this, it makes me feel lucky to view the world from Canadian eyes. I wonder why so many Canadians laugh at the NDP, when they have brought us the likes of Layton, Broadbent, and Douglas. They represent who I believe we truly see ourselves as. A compassionate, fair, broad-minded people. I cannot wait to see who will emerge to show us our potential again. We surely need it. We will miss you Jack.

#27 cloudy on 08.22.11 at 11:31 am

Well put Mr Turner

We are a better country because of Mr Layton’s passion

#28 Dorothy on 08.22.11 at 11:31 am

This is a sad day. Mr. Layton provided balance in what is increasingly becoming a right wing political world, and his loss will be sorely felt.

#29 Waiting For The Sun on 08.22.11 at 11:36 am

Very sad day for Canada. RIP Jack.

#30 Junius on 08.22.11 at 11:45 am

A leader with integrity. A rare breed these days. He will be missed.

#31 Carlyle on 08.22.11 at 11:46 am

Jack is the only politician in recent memory that had an aura of believability about him.

Whether you agreed with his policies or not, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Jack was sincere, believed in what he was doing, and truly wanted to help Canadian families.

In an era of cronyism, back room deals, and crass politics … Jack shone out as somebody with integrity, and a man of principle. I’ve never been an NPD supporter by any means, but I’ve always been a supporter of Jack.

He’ll be dearly missed.

#32 calgary64 on 08.22.11 at 11:50 am

well said. a true leader. hope we would not have to wait very long for another one.

#33 vyw on 08.22.11 at 11:53 am

Jack gave his life to improving Canada. It’s a very sad day. Thanks Garth for posting this.

#34 timo on 08.22.11 at 12:01 pm

May I offer my deepest condolences to Mr Layton’s family and loved ones. He was a great human being and an inspiration to all.

#35 Sgt Bilko on 08.22.11 at 12:01 pm

Jack had an undeniable passion for the people of Canada that we may not see again for a long time. He was a shining beacon emanating from the political tedium that defines Ottawa. An inspiration for many folks, he always provided balance to the fools on the hill. Thanks Jack for keeping it interesting. May your family remain strong and may you rest in peace.

Thanks for the post Garth.

#36 Snowboid on 08.22.11 at 12:03 pm

Didn’t always agree with him, but never doubted his integrity and intelligence.

I offer sincere condolences to his family, may Jack rest in peace.

#37 Guan-Di on 08.22.11 at 12:03 pm

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. You died a winner Jack!

#38 MR. Lee on 08.22.11 at 12:12 pm

Mr. Layton displayed something that he other leaders have no clue of, spirit. Although I am not a NDP supporter, I do admire the vigour and courage Jack had during the last campaign with so much pain. He struggled through. During his cancer battle, his attendance in the House was unmatched by any other leader. His brilliant showing in Quebec. It is fitting to use the French word “valour” when describing Jack.

Mr. Layton, you will be missed.

#39 The InvestorsFriend (Shawn Allen) on 08.22.11 at 12:12 pm

A great loss.

Puts life’s smaller setbacks in context.

#40 clem on 08.22.11 at 12:14 pm

Great post, thanks Garth

#41 Markey on 08.22.11 at 12:16 pm

Thank you for that moving tribute Garth. Jack’s death is a great, sad loss for Canada.

#42 Mister Obvious on 08.22.11 at 12:20 pm

So sorry about Jack. He was made out of something much tougher than most of us.

#43 JohnnyBravo on 08.22.11 at 12:20 pm

I was very surprised when I heard the news this morning, given how quickly Mr. Layton’s passing came after his announcement to step down from the NDP leadership.

I was also surprised at how sad I felt. I never met Jack Layton. The closest I ever got was one time when I sat in on a lecture for a course he once taught at the U of T. His passion and conviction came through, even when delivering a rather dry lecture.

Though I am not an NDP supporter, I think Canada and Canadian politics would have been better off with Mr. Layton invloved.

Condolences to his family and friends.

#44 Celine M. on 08.22.11 at 12:25 pm

RIP, Jack Layton. You inspired us all.

#45 Kimberly on 08.22.11 at 12:25 pm

Like Linda’s son above, I am also a gen-xer who finally got excited about politics because of Jack Layton. His integrity, his intelligence and his passion for Canada and social change were infectious. I am feeling so devastated right now for Layton’s family and for Canada. Thank you for writing such a touching tribute.

#46 duesouth on 08.22.11 at 12:30 pm

#15- Victoria you are certainly right. This was a man with integrity and the drive. I come from no political stripe but he always gave me a smile when you’d see him on Royal Canadian Airfarce or Rick Mercer poking fun at himself.

Humble is a trait that you cannot teach. God speed Jack!

……and in a world so full of “news” thank you Garth for taking the time to write this today.

#47 deaconmoss on 08.22.11 at 12:30 pm

Brought tears to my eyes Garth. Is there another like Jack out there in that jaded political landscape. Thanks for remembering one of the few fighters we had left.

#48 Lynn on 08.22.11 at 12:37 pm

Beautifully said Mr. Turner.

#49 2deep on 08.22.11 at 12:41 pm

I don’t care what side of the political spectrum you fall under you have to respect Jacks passion and patriotism. I was surprised to feel a bit of a chill go through me when I read he had passed, I think that says a lot about the kind of man Jack was.

We need more people like Jack on the left and right who care most about making this country great.

Thanks for honoring him Garth.

#50 doc on 08.22.11 at 12:41 pm

Well said Garth. He was a good man. He could have lain down his burdens and skipped the last campaign and I think it might have been in his best interest to let it all go. We saw instead that he gave it his all. I think it was noble but I feel sad that he paid for the effort with his life. Perhaps if we all gave a little bit more to what we believed in, people like Jack would feel they didn’t need to do so much. To his family, my sincerest condolences. We all lost a great Canadian today.

#51 Great White Mudshark on 08.22.11 at 12:42 pm

Jack seemed to be the only leader who really cared and understood the struggles faced by average Canadians. His passion for Canada and Canadians was second to none.

A true leader. Gone but never forgotten. A great loss for his family and Canada.

#52 In Jack's Words on 08.22.11 at 12:49 pm

I tip my hat to a great man and a great Canadian who showed such great courage. His beautiful letter to Canadians ends with these lovely words:

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

Very nice that a collection of people coming to this blog to chat about the housing market and other largely financial issues can pause to reflect on a great life cut short. Thanks Garth.

#53 Snowboid on 08.22.11 at 12:54 pm

In his last letter to Canadians, a summation of great value:

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.

And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,
Jack Layton”

#54 Michael on 08.22.11 at 12:55 pm

So being a pragmatist here: Does the NDP have anybody that can replace him? Or did the Left just go into the change rooms while the Harper Cons are still playing on the field?

#55 Tamsen on 08.22.11 at 1:25 pm

Very sad to hear of Jack’s passing. He will be dearly missed. Bad sign for Canada …

Thank you, Garth, for your thoughtful tribute to a great leader.

#56 Patiently Waiting on 08.22.11 at 1:31 pm

Whether you agreed with his poitics or not, I think we can all agree that he was a great Canadian who fought passionately for what he believed was best for this country – God bless you Jack.

#57 Mr. Lahey Trailer Park Supervisor on 08.22.11 at 1:34 pm

A great Canadian has left the stage. I knew from his press conference in which he announced that he would be stepping down from the leadership of the NDP to fight his cancer that his days were very short indeed. Poor Jack had the face of death in that announcement. RIP Jack, you will be remembered as one of the greats on the stage of life in Canada.

#58 Grim Weeper on 08.22.11 at 1:38 pm

Jack courageously took the road less travelled. As a result he stood apart from countless lowly sheep in politics and has made his mark as a most honourable, and highly principled political shepherd.

Best way to honour his life’s work is for each of us to keep a close eye on the sheep and/or wolves in Ottawa, and always do our best to help those who are less fortunate.

Farewell Jack, and thanks for having served.

#59 Hunkered Down In Milton on 08.22.11 at 1:42 pm

Throughout the morning I have read countless posts on various sites and a word that often surfaces is RESPECT.

Mr. Turner, as you mentioned above in your blog, you spent worthwhile hours even though the political spectrum had the two of you on opposite ends.

Could it be, that years from now, Canadians from all view points can look back at the past few years, at the spontaneous erruption of digital democracy -here and abroad-, look at the interaction of people and see that this was the era when the democratic renaissance started?

Can respect, ideas and digital interaction make our country better?

Given the enormous challenges ahead of us….

I fervently believe so.

Thanks to all for contributing to the discussions.


#60 Juan on 08.22.11 at 1:57 pm

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Sage words there. Regardless of your political views, everybody should embrace these words as a way of living. So long Mr. Layton

#61 fancy_pants on 08.22.11 at 2:03 pm

Thanks Garth for this eulogy of sorts from one former politician to another. Fair and fine words for a hard working politician – a diamond in the rough for sure.

#62 Smell The Coffee on 08.22.11 at 2:07 pm

For a brief moment we had hope for a better future. Jack gave a spark to our moribund Political swamp in Ottawa. He will be sorely missed.

As for a continuing reality bites, a rather persistent and depressing series of ‘wake-up calls’ keep on coming.
J. Preston writing for the London Financial Times has this to say about the big banks and their ability to stay in business. Forget their dodgy loan portfolio, but the dead weight of their ongoing pension obligations and Management’s frustration that retired staff have the termitity to simply not die off quickly enough.

‘Of the big four high-street groups, only HSBC now boasts a market capitalization (slightly) greater than its pension fund liabilities. Lloyds, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are, in the view of the stock market, worth less than the amount they owe their current and future pensioners. The gap is widest at Lloyds – with pension liabilities of £27bn, against a market cap of less than £20bn. It is pretty dramatic as trivia facts go. But since pension liabilities are long-term in nature, they have no (immediate or) direct connection with the banks’ own short-term market values.’

Boomer, doomer, done. Your geezer future is no longer assured, however a consoling investment tip from ‘Bernie the Banker’ that futures and put options on tinned dog food are going through the roof. Every crisis after all has after all has a sliver lining.

#63 Ray in NS on 08.22.11 at 2:23 pm

I find myself more touched by his passing that I ever thought I would be.

The outpouring of sentiment here only shows how this man, no matter what your political persuasion, always commanded respect for his intelligence and tenacity.

He will be missed.

#64 Harlee on 08.22.11 at 2:32 pm

Thank you Garth for writing a tribute to Jack Layton .He was a very proud Canadian and very sincere in his beliefs. He appeared at an outdoor rally here in the last election. On his arrival,he took time to mingle with the people,shaking hands,waving and having quick conversations with some. I was there and I’ll always remember seeing his genuine warmth for his fellow Canadians. May he rest in peace.

#65 Sandy on 08.22.11 at 2:32 pm

You made the world a better place with this post, Garth.

Away from the economic roller coaster ride to connect with the heart for a few moments. Gives us more strength and inspiration to raise the bar. Thank you for honouring Jack in this way and for letting us share together in the beauty of the man who was called Jack Layton.

Your view (and how you pen it) is a gift, Garth; may you continue to inspire us with it in your blog and elsewhere.

May all the seeds that Jack sowed in his well-lived lifetime, bear fruit.

#66 Cookie Monster on 08.22.11 at 2:32 pm

Even though Jack was a far lefty kind of guy, he was an honest and likeable politician/person, and even though he fought for policies that libertarians would adamantly oppose, he always fought with directness and integrity which made him respectable.

Any politician, or ex-politician, who continues to bump heads with people of opposing views should take notice of the huge success Jack Layton was as a politician and how his integrity was his number one attribute. Even if misplaced by some opinions, he was respected.

Reminds me of another foolish political type who I also like for many of the same reasons, but we won’t go there.

#67 Devore on 08.22.11 at 2:33 pm

Mr. Turner, as you mentioned above in your blog, you spent worthwhile hours even though the political spectrum had the two of you on opposite ends.

In Canadian politics maybe. In the grand scheme of things, they’re touching elbows. We’re much closer than anyone cares to admit. We just need more people like Jack Layton in politics to make things happen for Canadians, instead of the opportunists we usually elect looking after themselves. Hopefully he’s been a source of inspiration for the next generation.

#68 Jamaican_Gal on 08.22.11 at 2:34 pm

Aw, Jack. Goodnight my friend.


#69 a prairie dawg on 08.22.11 at 2:42 pm


Now I see where this quote came from. Going to re-post the whole letter with the link.

RIP Jack.

– – –

Jack Layton’s last letter to Canadians:

August 20, 2011

Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

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.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton

#70 Toon Town Boomer on 08.22.11 at 2:58 pm

A very sad day for his family ,Canadians and the NDP Party. I was so happy he had the victory he worked so hard for and as the NDP Leader. Rest in peace Jack.

#71 Derek R on 08.22.11 at 3:23 pm

#62 Smell The Coffee on 08.22.11 at 2:07 pm wrote:
As for a continuing reality bites, a rather persistent and depressing series of ‘wake-up calls’ keep on coming.

J. Preston writing for the London Financial Times has this to say about the big banks and their ability to stay in business. Forget their dodgy loan portfolio, but the dead weight of their ongoing pension obligations and Management’s frustration that retired staff have the temerity to simply not die off quickly enough.

And blogger, Mark Wadsworth, and his commenters point out why J. Preston’s remarks miss the point completely in the posting, Irrelevant fact of the day.

So, one less thing to worry about on this sad day.

#72 Calculon The Mighty on 08.22.11 at 3:26 pm

I can’t remember ever feeling sorrow for the passing of any politician in my life. I guess there’s a first for everything.

Vaya con Dios, Jack.

#73 betamax on 08.22.11 at 3:45 pm

RIP Jack.

#69 — thanks for posting the letter. His words deserve to be read and remembered.

#74 Darryl on 08.22.11 at 4:05 pm

In his last days he showed an impressive dignity. The final letter was a class act.

Having never voted for and seldom agreed with the NDP platforms. I’m actually surprised by the sudden shock and feeling of loss I felt when hearing of his passing. He just seemed to have more interest in the people than the others.

He will be missed.

#75 BigAl (Original) on 08.22.11 at 4:06 pm

The nation has lost a great man.

“To propose lucidity to men in a lowly romantic era, in the melancholy era of…dialectical materialism” was the noble mission of Jack.

RIP Jack Layton.

#76 Victoria Tea Party on 08.22.11 at 4:14 pm


Though I’m no supporter of socialist enterprises in principle, Jack Layton’s very untimely passage evokes emotions no matter what one’s political stripe.

His good-bye letter’s most poignant foundation must be this following paragraph, offering hope to those who suffer from cancer while he, too, must have been in such pain from that awful affliction.

“…To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer…”

Those words tell the measure of this man. Heroic is the ONLY word that can emerge from his writing.


Starting in September, as the winter of our economic discontent will only get more obviously troubling, is where to from here for Canada’s great socialist political experiment, the federal NDP’s Official Opposition status.

Will the Quebec “caucus” stay in the fold made by Jack, or will its members slowly retreat back into their left-wing separatist Quebec roots, given that the interim NDP boss is an admitted “former” separatiste.

We can only wait.

I will not take too kindly for a political movement, with its Western Canadian roots, being deep-sixed by fifth-columnists with unkind ideas about the future of Canadian Confederation, and using this party for those ends. Was Jack’s legacy of expanding the NDP-coalition tent a strategic mistake? History will judge.


Libya. Holy doodle! Remember who was in charge of bringing down the Ghadaffi Tribal Rulers: NATO, US military, Eurocrats everywhere thinking that reinstating sweet Libyan crude oil shipments from that desert kingdom would solve their debt problems was a BIG mistake.

History rears its head here, too.

The Ghadaffi Tribe is one of six Libyan tribes. It is under attack by those other five.

At some point Moamar will be smoked. Then what? Or is it SO what?

Tribalism being what it is, look for a full-blown civil war.

Remember that anything “stage-managed” by NATO, the Yanks and the Eurocrats is pretty much doomed to failure given their track record, collectively, so far in the great financial mess that they created and continue to nurture as fast as they can.

The Ghadaffis were good for downtown Europe which WAS Libya’s primary oil and natural gas recipient. The disctator was so cruel that he was able to keep the other tribes under heel. Now the country is looking for a new heel.

Unintended consequences stalks the MENA countries still.


You’ll know when WW3 is about to break when US State Secretary Hillary Clinton stands before a microphone and burbles out something like the following:

“…Now that Libyans have been liberated and a new democracy is forming, it is time to advice the Syrian leader to step aside or await a similar fate to Mr. Ghadaffi…”

Squirrel soup soon to follow…

#77 syd on 08.22.11 at 4:31 pm

Thanks Garth for a nicely written tribute to Mr. Jack Layton. Its a huge loss for Canada.

#78 Patient in Vancouver on 08.22.11 at 4:33 pm

I am very saddened by the passing of Mr Layton. To me he represented hope, integrity and commitment to Canadians.

The NDP did not get my vote in the last election – that was cast for a minority government. Mr Layton, however, was one of the few leaders I thought capable of the collaboration and selflessness required to make a minority goverment work well.

With his passing I fear for Canada.

Thank you Mr Layton for your service. You earned the title of a truely great Canadian.

Rest in peace.

#79 Juan on 08.22.11 at 4:37 pm

#69 Thanks, I should’ve clarified the source in my comment.

His letter made me feel a lump in my throat, especially with the closing words, that’s why I posted them. And this is coming from a person who recently arrived to Canada and only got to know him from the past campaign. Just to repeat what almost everybody already said, he inspired respect.

#80 Imstupid on 08.22.11 at 4:53 pm

Let’s see what the sun writes after the smear campaign they wrote to try and discredit him. I never voted for him but I respected him, he was genuine. The Sun tried to manipulate our democratic system and that is a shame. Now they will cry for him. I say boycott tomorrows edition of the sun tell your friends etc.

For Jack

#81 Blacksheep on 08.22.11 at 4:56 pm

Well done Garth. Sad day for Canada. RIP Jack.

#82 Thetruth on 08.22.11 at 5:09 pm

Rename YVR … Jack Layton International Airport.

#83 Bill Gable on 08.22.11 at 5:21 pm

Losing Jack Layton is a huge loss for Canada.

My condolences, Mr. Turner, and to his other friends and supporters and fellow politicians.

Special wishes to Mrs. Chow and Mr. Layton’s Family.

#84 Adviser on 08.22.11 at 5:26 pm

RIP Jack,

You will be missed by many.

#85 JB on 08.22.11 at 5:28 pm

Well said Garth. This is a huge loss to all of Canada. Mr. Layton was one of the most inspiring politicians in Canadian history.

RIP Jack Layton, you will be dearly missed.

#86 Dan in Victoria on 08.22.11 at 6:06 pm

I like fighters, people who believe that they can make changes to help fellow Canadians.
I didn’t agree with everything he did.
When his party stunned everyone in the last election, I thought heres your chance Jack, make me believe.
I respected him for his tenacity, and his courage.
Rest in Peace Jack, Canada is a diffrent country without you.
Thanks for what you did for us.

#87 Peakoilist on 08.22.11 at 6:13 pm

I had the pleasure of meeting Jack and Olivia at a book fair a few years ago at Queen’s Park in Toronto. It was easy to approach him because he was friendly and we exchanged a few words and I wished him well. I will never forget that I was lucky to just bump into them as they strolled through the grounds that warm September day.
As soon I found out this morning and watching his pictures flashing across the TV screen, I was totally overcome by emotion, which totally surprised me at first. As I continued to wipe the tears from my eyes, i knew that it was because Jack was easy to get to know. He was just that kind of person that you can feel how genuine they are, even from a distance.
Bye Jack, it was great knowing you.

#88 Pete in Barrie on 08.22.11 at 6:13 pm

Thank you Garth for that impressive tribute. Sometimes I forget that you are a former politician and would know many of the old timers on the hill. I can honestly say for the first time in my 30 years of voting I went NDP this last election and it was primarily due to Jack’s impressive leadership and campaigning skills.

RIP Jack

#89 Watching the Liberal Party die is so good on 08.22.11 at 6:19 pm

Bon Jack and his band of weeping socialists are exactly whats wrong with this country. They have an endless supply of taxpayers money that they think is their right to throw around and make themselves feel good. Never forget that these Liberal-Socialists are the worst offenders when it comes to burying their snouts in the trough. Good riddance.

#90 Michelle on 08.22.11 at 6:30 pm

Thank you for that lovely tribute Garth.

Jack Layton typified all that was good about Canadian politics.

My heart goes out to his wife and family.

#91 Moneta on 08.22.11 at 6:37 pm

His letter says a lot about how much he cared. He did not have to write it, yet he did.

Thank you for the letter Jack.

#92 vatoDETH on 08.22.11 at 6:56 pm

Rest in peace Jack Layton. You were a great man with incredible drive and charisma.

The loss of Jack actually brings a tear to my eye. You are an inspiration.

#93 ballingsford on 08.22.11 at 6:59 pm

Rest in Peace Jack. You have touched and helped more people than you would have ever known. My deepest sympathies for your family and everyone else who you have touched. You were a one of a kind special person who thought of others in need instead of yourself! I hope the history books reflects on the dedication of your life that you have given to this country and your letter inspires others to follow in your footsteps; selfishly.

Garth, thanks for the tribute to Jack! You too are a special person!

#94 JofC on 08.22.11 at 7:02 pm

Thanks for the post Garth
Although I didn’t support his politics I”ve always respected his passion for fighting for a fairer society for all Canadians something all parlimentarians could learn from.
May his final words to us all guide us forward
My condolences to Olivia and there children
May your smile shine upon us

#95 Nostradamus Le Mad Vlad on 08.22.11 at 7:09 pm

Good column and heading — “Adieu, Jack” and #58 Grim Weeper had the best line — “. . . he stood apart from countless lowly sheep in politics . . .”

Jack was not a sheeple. #67 Devore got it right as well — “We’re much closer than anyone cares to admit.”

As has been said before, we are all connected, no matter color – culture – religion – politics and the like.

#86 Dan in Victoria — “I like fighters, people who believe that they can make changes to help fellow Canadians.”

Well said, Dan.

#96 Coho on 08.22.11 at 7:10 pm

Garth, thank you for your touching posting today. I never knew or met the man. Didn’t need to in order to see his passion and sincerity in his intentions. It felt like he truly cared about this country and those which make it up, the common person, much more so than personal achievements for their sake only. Canada has lost a great advocate for its citizens.

It’s unfortunate but certainly seems to be the case all too often and one which I fully agree with and that is your observation that “Nothing gold can stay”.

#97 Cliff on 08.22.11 at 7:32 pm

Thank you Garth for these eloquent words. We have indeed lost a fine citizen this day.

#98 Dave on 08.22.11 at 7:36 pm

May he rest in peace and my condolences to his family.
Jack Layton – a Socialists . Is this good for Canada? This is exactly what’s wrong in this country.

#99 No Fun Vancouver on 08.22.11 at 7:41 pm

What an absolute shock for him. With all that excitement and opportunity he had waiting for him just to all be cut short. Its a lesson for us all to live in the moment and to live life to the fullest and not worry so much about one’s net worth!! Not sure why they have not mentioned what is secondary cancer was?

Perhaps, he message will live on and Canadians will maintain its tradition of compassion at the next election in face of the ever rising influence of the Conservatives.

#100 GB on 08.22.11 at 8:10 pm

Canada needed a man like Jack Layton. A true class act who wil be missed.

#101 Mountain Girl on 08.22.11 at 8:24 pm

Garth, thank you for the tribute to Mr. Layton. My condolences to his family and my great respects to his integrity and passion for our country.

#102 kitchener1 on 08.22.11 at 8:28 pm

RIP Jack

Truly a political icon like no other. Jack captured the spirt and engery of the youth vote like no other politican could.

So sad to see a great man gone, at age 61 no less.

His legacy will live on, his vision will continue and he will be talked about in poltical history books for decades to come.

#103 Seven Stars and Orion on 08.22.11 at 8:31 pm

re: The Honourable Jack Layton, the context may not be perfect, but this is how I feel:



#104 the Phantom on 08.22.11 at 8:33 pm

Short post tonight folks.

Rest in Peace Jack.
You fought the good fight whether it was in the House of Commons, on the campaign trail or the battle within; that solitary, personal battle you most recently waged to the bitter end. You, your eloquent tongue and your integrity will be sorely missed.

the Phantom

#105 Sheila on 08.22.11 at 8:43 pm

He came. He cared. He conquered.

‘Tis not too late to seek a better world.

Go softly into that dark night, but carry your big stick.

Good-night, Jack, and thank you.

#106 Tim on 08.22.11 at 8:45 pm

Goodbye Jack,
it is sad that we have to lose a principled leader who worked for the interest of Canadians and are stuck with an opportunistic, undemocratic, leader who could care less about Canadians

#107 Roland on 08.22.11 at 8:45 pm

While my own politics are considerably to the left of Jack Layton’s, nevertheless I respect his work as a moderate social democrat, and his success in establishing the NDP as Official Opposition.

Politics is not only about ideas, but about character. And Layton had exceptional strength of character.

His death is a loss not only for his party, but for our country.

Thank you, Garth, for writing such an intelligent and gentlemanly tribute to the man.

#108 susan on 08.22.11 at 8:46 pm

Jack, Tommy Douglas is proud of you. I bet you two have a lot to talk about. Good speed and thanks for all you have done. Even my blue heart can appreciate your work and accomplishments.

Garth, beautiful tribute and as always from the truth of your heart.

#109 unbalanced on 08.22.11 at 8:52 pm

It is a sad day in Canadian history. Will always be remembered for the ” Man ” who never quit.

#110 OttawaMike on 08.22.11 at 8:53 pm

As I drove tonight to do my volunteer work for the senior’s co-op in my ‘hood, I lamented about poor Jack and how he would approve of the co-op and its operating concept of community involvement.

Even though I consider myself at the centre of the political spectrum and certainly no raving lefty. I am still left wondering where the social justice was for Layton.

There was a man from a privileged, educated background who really could have succeeded at almost anything he wanted. He chose public service and looked out for the ones who fell between the cracks of society.
But where was the good Karma for him as his life was cut short at a relatively young age by such a painful and nasty illness?
His story reinforces my theory that life is really just a random series of events.

#111 Your Mom on 08.22.11 at 8:55 pm

A man who took the moniker “Public Servant” seriously. The privilege and responsibility it is and not the trough it presents.


Condolences Olivia.

#112 Ayn Rand on 08.22.11 at 8:58 pm

My condolences to Jack’s Sister In Law today (former colleague, now Deputy Minister at the Ministry ofTransportation, Gov’t of Ont):

Carol, from my family to yours, so sorry for your loss.

Jack was our MP when we lived in Toronto and I had the privilege of voting for him several times. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jack when he was a city counsellor, a friendly cheerful encounter with each of us sitting (separately) on the grass outside the Eaton’s Centre having lunch.

When my grade 9 son Luke was running for student government this June, I stressed that same optimism that Jack displayed in the May election – to keep on trying; keep persevering for the common good because sometimes the odds just maybe in your favour. My son won (no one ran against him), which taught him a valuable lesson – always try your best efforts (never give up)

We will miss Jack.
Indeed a sad day – more so for the suddeness and shock of it.

Thanks Garth for the honourable tribute and the humanity – your beautiful words are always appreciated in this home.

This lady, Carol Layton, told me about the great man her father in law was, father of Jack Layton, former Mulrooney Cabinet Minister, Tory to boot.

And a wonderful lesson that humanity can transpose across party lines.


#113 Utopia on 08.22.11 at 9:05 pm

I have always had a great respect for Jack Layton though I often opposed his policies. He was a man unto himself and few in public life showed such tremendous courage, tenacity, humour and leadership skills as that very talented gentleman.

Jack will be sorely missed. By his family, his party and this country of ours. He electrified us during the election, was stinging in some of his rebukes to the others yet gentle with the many newcomers the NDP brought in. He took his party to heights never achieved before and was courageous in fighting an election despite the illness that still lingered.

A fond farewell to you Jack.

Our thoughts are with your family tonight.

#114 eviee1973 on 08.22.11 at 9:20 pm

The leader for the average Joe, down to earth, and personable. Deserving of a state funeral, yet the family deserves their privacy in their time of loss. My condolonces to the Layton family. One politician I will not forget.

#115 Joe on 08.22.11 at 9:20 pm

Like many others, I am surprised at the tears I shed today over the death of a politician that I never personally voted for. Yes, I voted for his party once or twice, but I don’t live in his riding. I think what makes me sad the most is that Jack reminds me much of my father, struggling for years to be successful and just starting to enjoy that success when fate steps in. It seems like Jack Layton was our best chance at perhaps taking back our country, uniting us and making it a much better place. I met him once – he was taking the subway. He saw us looking at him and came up and introduced himself. (Like an introduction was necessary!) Then we’d see him every year as he and Olivia marched in the Pride parade – not because it gained him political points, but because he believed in equality and justice for everyone. It’s a very sad day for all Canadians. Thank you VERY much for honoring him in your blog Garth.

#116 Soylent Green is People on 08.22.11 at 9:32 pm

hmmm, someone’s a Monday morning quarterback re the election. So today is what, make Jack Layton a hero day? Sorry for his passing but can’t get aboard the hero train.

#117 diana on 08.22.11 at 9:37 pm

Jack was a true leader, the kind that leads by example.
I’ve only shed a tear one other time for a public figure and today was the second time.
You’ll be sadly missed Jack, but, I’m sure you’re in a better place and your silent suffering is over. How courageous you were. My condolences to your family.

#118 ruraldude on 08.22.11 at 9:38 pm

With gold going up Re going down and the Dow going sideways reality smacks us in the face again. No matter how we perceive our future we are all mortal beings. Even though I disagreed with the late great Mr Jack Layton I respected him very much as a charismatic person and as a man deeply devoted to his convictions as to what is good for Canada.
The right needs a strong left to keep some perspective, and that was Jack.
Thanks for the detour Garth and for our fallen hero who slipped away at the pinnacle of his career RIP.

#119 Cowboy Pete on 08.22.11 at 10:04 pm

worn down from walking his talk

his empty boots cannot be easily filled

the nation is diminished

many hearts ache

#120 Deanne on 08.22.11 at 10:18 pm

Nice post – dare I say sweet. RIP Jack .

#121 Steady Eddie on 08.22.11 at 10:27 pm

Jack, thanks for your years of service. RIP.

#122 Cato on 08.22.11 at 10:35 pm

Canada lost a great statesman with the passing of Jack Layton. The country needed Jack to balance the extremism forming in both sides of the political spectrum, I fear his loss will result in a much more divided country. Canada is about to enter trying times, his loss will be felt more than we know. Though I could never share his political viewpoint I respect the man for his character and convictions. We need more like him.

#123 Live under your means on 08.22.11 at 10:38 pm

I was watching the National in bed this eve. and even Rex Murphy had good words to say about Jack Layton. I cried this morning when I heard about his passing. I didn’t vote for his party, but I respected Jack’s integrity, undying compassion for his causes and his always optomistic attitude. Thank you Garth for your tribute to Jack Layton.

My sincere condolensces to his wife, Olivia, and the rest of his family. He was a great Canadian and will sorely be missed.

#124 Led on 08.22.11 at 10:49 pm

I really admired Jack – he really cared for humanity, the little guy, and the guy with nothing on the street corner. He loved this country and the people in it..

#125 MKUltra on 08.22.11 at 11:12 pm

Heaven’s gain – is our loss.

#126 LB on 08.22.11 at 11:44 pm

Jack Layton had a consistent and better vision for Canada through his ideas and policies which benefited everyone, not just some.

A tremendous loss, but he leaves us having successfully established his party as the official Opposition, thereby giving us the opportunity to ensure that,going forward, this greater vision becomes reality.

#127 Albertared on 08.23.11 at 12:46 am

Who writes your eulogy says as much about you as the eulogy. Nice writing, good man, thanks for that.

#128 Mrs Loquacious on 08.23.11 at 12:48 am

Jack Layton was the first federal politician to have true, compelling charisma since Pierre Trudeau. To have his life cut short so soon is truly our nation’s loss. May his legacy and his hopeful optimism live on to inspire generations of young people to the cause of social justice. RIP Jack.

#129 nonplused on 08.23.11 at 12:52 am

I personally am very surprised Jack passed so quickly. Cancer kills, but in days? Leukemia, maybe. I hope they bring a Geiger counter to the autopsy to make sure some secret service wasn’t involved.

That said, I know in times of grief and in passing we are supposed to have good things to say about the departed, even our enemies. Even if you kill a guy in battle you say he died “valiantly” and was “a great warrior”. But in Jack’s case he was a union pandering, social engineering, busy-body no matter what.

But as much as I have always wanted to see the “Jacks” of the world gone from politics, I find this death suspicious, sad, and ill timed. I would have only hoped he got handed his jacket by the voters. If CSIS or the CIA handed him his papers for doing well in an election when it wasn’t planned by the powers that be, I will join the revolt.

Jack, if you have internet in the nether world, peace be with you despite our differences, and the timing of your departure was most unfortunate.

If there was any wrongdoing, I hope the wrong-doers join you shortly.

#130 cj on 08.23.11 at 1:29 am

Jack was an inspirational leader. He believed in Canada and he believed in us.

#131 hobbygirl on 08.23.11 at 3:21 am

Thanks so much Garth for taking the time to post on Jack.

I couldn’t agree with you more that Jack and his character contributed to his success, not from backroom boys and money. It is the highest ideal anyone in politics can achieve.

Regardless of political affiliation we all love our country and we need work together in the spirit of co-operation to make our land even better. As Jack suggests, there IS a way…

Thank you Jack for focusing on the basic ideals we all strive for. I and the rest of my fellow countrymen will miss you dearly – heaven is lucky to have you.

#132 maxx on 08.23.11 at 6:09 am

day is breaking majestically………..all the bright and beautiful colours of creation rolling across the horizon….and Jack is gone.

What a loss….for all of Canada….like the glimmer of hope that is daybreak… extinguished…..never to be forgotten.

Warmest wishes to your family Jack. RIP.

#133 Grimbot on 08.23.11 at 7:32 am

Jack Layton embodied qualities so rare in politics and life in general. A man of passion… of integrity… of principle… of energy… of optimism… of compassion…

#134 Willa on 08.23.11 at 8:12 am

Thanks for these kind words for Jack. What a loss. We are a country grieving.

#135 GenXer Wife on 08.23.11 at 8:50 am

A beautiful tribute Garth – thank-you. I read Jack’s open letter to Canadians yesterday with tears in my eyes and like many, I am not an NDP voter, but he had that special passion and charisma that would make me possibly have voted for him at some point.

He was a rare man, and cared so much for all that is Canada and especially for the vulnerable, the youth, our seniors, our environment – the outpouring from Canadians shows this clearly. He had a special message of hope for a better Canada and as someone with children, this resonated with me.

Canada has truly lost something special with his passing, however, I am confident that the torch will be picked up by his family and his party and many Canadians with enhanced strength in the months and years to come. And that is what i expect Jack would have wanted.

#136 Tom from Mississauga on 08.23.11 at 9:14 am

Greatest Federalist in my lifetime.

#137 waterloo Resident on 08.23.11 at 9:16 am

———— I’m sad, very sad. I liked Jack very much, he was my kind of guy, he had integrity, he was normal. —–

#138 David B on 08.23.11 at 11:32 am

Thank Mr. Turner for putting the thoughts of many to words .

#139 David B on 08.23.11 at 11:36 am

Thank you again Mr. Turner for putting the thoughts of many to words

#140 Lisa on 08.23.11 at 12:44 pm

That was a lovely tribute, Garth. Thanks.

Jack Layton was a rare breed and one of the finest politicans this country has ever known. I’ll miss him.

Many condolences to his wife, Olivia, his children and his little Bea.

#141 Young Old fart on 08.23.11 at 8:13 pm

As a capitalist, my views and beliefs differed greatly from those of Mr Layton.

But sticking to what you believe in, regardless of what it is, eventually earns respect. Mr Layton achieved a great deal and did it in a belief to better our country.

That gets my respect. RIP Mr Layton.

#142 TurnerNation on 08.23.11 at 8:37 pm

Most of the posts begin with: I didn’t agree with his policies, but…

Were there any of his policies floating around that would have say ruined your life as you know it or caused a huge increase in the Federal deficit (as we’ve seen in the past few years)?

And on that note, given the deficit have you noticed any tangible benefits in your life due to this debt? Like: Oh, sure we have masssive debt but it was worth it because we now have ______?

Anything? Or were we robbed?

At any rate it appears that Jack reached his goal (who’d have thought it possible, an NDP opposition leader!) and found it time to move on.

#143 TurnerNation on 08.24.11 at 12:02 am

Imagine Trudeau’s first words when he learns Jack is up there too: “Oh fuddleduddle they let them up here?” ;)