“Jack Layton, a folksy and charismatic political leader who guided his party to become the dominant opposition group in Canada’s Parliament while battling severe health problems, died Monday of cancer. He was 61. Layton hobbled through the campaign earlier this year as he recovered from a broken hip and prostate cancer. Under his upbeat leadership the leftist New Democrats outpolled the Liberals and became the official opposition party for the first time in their 50-year history”, the media reported. Some say: “He and his party could change Canada and its history. He died soon.” The media added: “Only weeks ago, a gaunt Layton shocked Canadians when he held a news conference to announce he was fighting a second bout of cancer . Layton’s cheerful message, his strong performance in the debates, and his popularity in the French-speaking province of Quebec went over well with voters. He once was voted the politician Canadians would most want to have a beer with. He was a native of Montreal, and a photo of him wearing a Montreal Canadiens jersey and pouring a beer during the hockey playoffs went viral in Quebec. Canadians left flowers and cards at the eternal flame on Parliament Hill, where the flag on the peace tower was lowered to half-staff. Anne McGrath, Layton’s chief of staff, said the government will hold a state funeral for Layton in Toronto on Saturday. Layton announced in February 2010 that he had been battling prostate cancer but he continued a crowded schedule while getting treatment. He lost a considerable amount of weight and his voice was very weak when he said last month that his battle with prostate cancer was going well but that recent tests showed he had a new form of cancer . He not did elaborate on what type of cancer was discovered. Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said the public Layton and the private Layton were one and the same.”
In a touching letter written Saturday and released hours after his death, Layton called for a Canada that shares its benefits more fairly and asked Canadians to give his party a chance in the years to come . Here are excerpts of his last letter: “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. 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 … To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please dont be discouraged that my own journey hasnt 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 our parliamentary caucus: … 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 … To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canadas Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country … 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 … 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 worlds 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. Dont let them tell you it cant 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 well change the world “. Such a great letter; Such a great man. The world needs this kind of politicians. A Canadian blogger wrote: “Good man gone. Jack Layton performed a political miracle as leader of Canadas long-lagging New Democratic Party, but he couldnt beat cancer a second time. Good man gone. Layton came from a political family. He was the son of a former federal Progressive Conservative cabinet minister and the grandson of a prominent provincial politician in Quebec. He had said that although his father was a conservative, he truly cared about those less well off.” Canada lost a good man, a rare good politician.