Jack Layton is dead.
There is very little doubt that the 2011 federal election killed him.
Yes… I know that it was his last duel with cancer that actually took his life from him, but do you honestly think that flying/driving/riding/walking around this vast country of ours didn’t wear him down so much that the cancer made easy prey of him in it’s last, great push?
Perhaps it’s morbid to speculate at this early juncture, but when it comes down to the brass tacks, I’ll stand by my statement.
Anyhow… the country has lost it’s last great politician, and we should all feel the worse for it.
Jack Layton had a podium presence that none of the other federal leaders could touch – he was bold, brash, sure of his convictions, and had no traces of the wishy-washy/flip-floppy attitudes of the Conservative and Liberal leaders… who’s stances changed as often as the wind changed speed or direction.
It’s no wonder at all that he was able to do what no other NDP leader had ever done before: take his Big Orange Surfboard and ride the wave right into the Official Opposition’s seats… even if he had to vacate his chair barely months later and leave the NDP in care of The Fates.
The reasons for this were simple and best explained in the diagram below:
As you see, Canadians who wanted an actual leader had no option other than to jump on that Big Orange Surfboard and leave the rest of the country to vote for policy… which is why Stephen Harper is Prime Minister.
We’re on the eve of a state funeral for the most popular of the federal leaders – even if you won’t see any foreign heads of state attending… but this is more than made up with the thousands of ordinary Canadians who will travel from all corners of the nation to pay their respects to a man who managed to capture the public desire for hope.
However, I really think that Canada as a whole should mourn Mr. Layton’s passing – not just the NDP party faithful that made The Orange Wave possible.
As I’ve said, Jack was the last politician in the truest sense – he was the barn storming type of politico from days of yore… the type that would shake hands, kiss babies, address the masses from atop the biggest stump you could find .
When he was dealing with the public, Mr. Layton had the bravado of Don Cherry and a silver tongue to rival Sean Connery (well… maybe not, but it was close).
In comparison, Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff spent most of their campaigns on the bus or in hotel back rooms pouring over statistics and telephone polling results so they could change their speeches at the last minute in hopes of sounding less like a deflating balloon.
I’m not a foolish romantic – I’m sure the Layton team also did their fair share of electorate research as they toured the cities/towns/provinces of this great land, but Jack kept up the same tone throughout the campaign.
It may have not led to an ultimate victory, but there’s no shame in second best – and Jack proved that when he took the stage at the end of election night and brandished his cane like a mighty sword.
I salute you, Mr. Layton.
May you rest in peace.