It was less than a year ago when I went to an NDP meeting in Ottawa. It was the first time I attended a political meeting of any party. I didn’t know what to expect; I found people very organized and friendly.
We all got together in a hall, and everything was going well until Jack Layton entered. It was this explosion of energy and excitement that abruptly filled the air. He began talking, and as time went by, I could see people transforming from ‘passive wanting’ to ‘ready to act to make it happen’ mood. He presented his plan which revolved around people, majority of people, those who struggle to make ends meet despite working hard. This was truly amazing. He had hydro bills handed by senior citizens in different cities where he had traveled by bus. People complained about the price of energy; they could not afford it. He talked about various challenges for ordinary Canadians, and how he was going to address them.
I was very impressed: no talk of tax cuts to a minority of Canadians but relief for the majority. And his personality; how he could move people into action. Ready to answer questions. Kind, polite but clear and to the point.
Over the last few weeks, I had been hoping that everything would be alright. That he would triumph again and come back. I wanted him, expected him to overcome this obstacle. Today, I heard that he is no longer with us. I am sad but also hurt; I know that it must have been very hard, too hard to continue, or he would have stayed on. I am hurt that he left us, but I also cannot imagine a more fruitful life. How much he did.
This sad event makes me wonder about the deep connection I have developed with this country, with the politics of Canada. Layton played a great role in this, I miss him, and I will continue to miss him. A man I met once but followed closely, a man I respected and trusted. In my experience, there are few of those around in politics. I am fortunate to have known one. May his soul rest in peace.