Jack Layton, Canadian Leader of the Opposition, Dead at 61

jack layton campaigning

On May 2, 2011, Jack Layton led the New Democratic Party to an unprecedented 103 seats in Parliament and became the first NDP Leader of the Opposition. Readers of the posts I link to below may note that many of them are critical of Jack; that's because the NDP was the natural home of the environmentalist treehugger type, but it was never quite green enough as Jack balanced the party's union base with its left-wing academic tendencies. It is a tough job, and Jack succeeded.

He had been fighting prostate cancer for a number of years and during the election seemed to have been in pretty good shape, but on July 25 took a "temporary leave of absence" to fight a new, unspecified cancer. He died from it this morning. The NDP platform in the last election certainly made the grade, as Jack promised a government that:

will make Canada an environmental leader on the world stage by honouring treaty obligations, incorporating strong environmental standards in trade agreements and ensuring Canadian companies operating abroad will be held to standards and practices that reduce their footprint and leave local ecosystems in good health.

He personally walked the walk too, outfitting his house with with solar panels, triple glazed windows, low flow toilets and high efficiency appliances, as shown by spouse (and member of Parliament) Olivia Chow.


He always rode a bike, shown here at the Gay Pride parade with wife Olivia Chow,

jack layton on bike 1987

Even before it was fashionable for politicians to do so, like back in 1987. In my previous careers I often worked with him and sometimes fought with him. Right now I wish I had not been so critical of him in these posts. He will be missed.

My son Hugh, who is deeply into politics, said it so much better in a tweet:

My love to Jack, Olivia, Mike and everyone who fights for justice and change when it would be easier to stay silent. Thank you.

UPDATE: Jack wrote a goodbye letter on Saturday. I don't cry often but did here.

Jack Layton Keeps Driving Voters to the Greens and Liberals
Canadian Government Falls; What Role Will Environment Play In Election?
David Suzuki Slams Greenwashing Politicians
In Canada, All Politics is Local

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