Fire Away: A Farewell to Jack Layton, a great politician and an extraordinary man

Thursday, September 1, 2011

  • Canadians are forced to say goodbye to a fantastic man

    Canadians are forced to say goodbye to a fantastic man

Written by Stephanie Rennie

I remember sitting in the desk seats of Macdonald Hall in the first semester of my first year at the University of Guelph thinking that I was attending another typical Introduction to Political Science class. This course was a mere elective, one of many that I selected at random to fill my time table first year. What I didn’t realize then, was that on this very day, in this very classroom, I was about to meet one of the most memorable and powerful men in Canadian politics, Jack Layton.

Jack Layton came to speak to Professor Dauda’s humble class of a hundred students on a Friday afternoon. Though election season was near, Layton did not fill the hour by bashing the other parties or even promoting his own platform. Layton spoke to the students about their concerns, including education and tuition fees.

This is the type of man that Jack Layton was, putting people before politics and ensuring his politics help people.

The past weeks have been filled with devastation and grief since the passing of Jack Layton on Monday August 22nd. It is with great sorrow that I write this piece, but I feel as though it is the least I can do in remembering such an influential man.

It is easy to fall back on the old pessimistic phrase that life is unfair when speaking of the latest year in Jack Layton’s life. May 2nd 2011 was a historical day in Canadian politics as the New Democratic Party trampled over Bloc Quebecois and the Liberals to deservingly gain the title of the Official Opposition.

In the eight years that Layton held the title of Leader of the NDP, he successfully brought the party to historic heights. Winning a mere  twenty nine seats in the 2006 election, Layton conquered the hearts of Quebecers and young adults in the 2011 election to win the NDP a total of one hundred and two seats.

Such monumental success in Layton’s life as a politician came at a difficult time as his personal battle with cancer heightened. It is such a shame that during such a rewarding time, when he should have been able to bask in his accomplishments, that he was forced to suffer an unimaginable suffering.

Even in his final days, Jack Layton was selfless and caring as he wrote a final letter to Canadians full of guidance and wisdom. Through his hardships and struggle, it seems that he never altered his priorities of caring for his loved ones and all Canadians, even in the days when he needed cared for most.

The messages Layton wrote will remain in the hearts and minds of the entire nation as all Canadians were addressed in a unique and personal way. Every time I read the strength of each word within his letter, I break down to tears. I didn’t personally know Jack Layton, but I feel closely connected to the sense of loss that is being felt by a country that has lost a great politician and an extraordinary man.

There is much to learn from the life and passing of Jack Layton.

Much of Layton’s focus within the NDP was structured around providing care and aid for seniors, ensuring universal and quality healthcare in Canada, and a deep focus on equality for all.

Even those that are not NDP supporters have much to take from the wise words left by Jack Layton as he urges people to care for one another, for our country, and for this planet.

The echo of Jack Layton’s final address to Canadians continues to be heard throughout the nation. “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.”

Stephanie Rennie is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Fire Away publishes every other Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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