It is rare for the death of a beloved public figure to inspire hope and grief in equal proportion. But this morning, the news of Jack Layton’s untimely passing and the farewell letter he left for Canadians has ignited a current of hope that may one day prove to be his lasting public contribution.
Last year, Canadians were inspired by Jack’s fierce grace and unyielding commitment to fighting for a better Canada as he faced his first battle with cancer and, later, a federal election while recovering from hip surgery.
Today, the news of Jack’s death and the release of his final words has touched the hearts of millions of people from different walks of life and political persuasions. His brave message of hope to Canadians is being posted across the internet on social networks and quoted around the world.
His final message to us — having gone immediately viral on Facebook — is a rallying cry to return to a principled government with strong social values in the tradition of Ghandi and Mandela: “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.”
In his life and in his passing, Jack Layton has challenged us all to imagine a Canada in which our national psyche is animated by the noblest of human aspirations — the values of fairness, compassion, reason, democracy and justice. If the millions of Canadians who are hearing his message and reflecting on his contribution to our society today are infused with even a fraction of his tenacious spirit and vision, Canada will be forever changed for the better.
Jack’s lifelong commitment to Canada, the depth of his passion for change, and his fighting spirit, along with his graceful acceptance that his personal battle was ending has shown Canadians what true leadership looks like. The challenge now is for each of us to carry on working to build a better Canada as Jack would have.
Julia Pope, president
Penticton NDP Constituency Association